Eyewitness Testimony as a Reliable Source of Evidence Is eyewitness testimony regarding cognitive psychology reliable in the current legal system? Word Count: 3944 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Is testimony a reliable source of evidence in today's court system? Many jurors tend to pay close attention to eyewitness accounts, assuming that what they hear is exactly what happened. They ignore the psychology behind itremember an event. Our brain is a complex structure and it is difficult to take in all the stimuli around us.
We pay close attention to some aspects of a situation while completely ignoring others. It is advisable that experienced psychologists be present during a trial with witnesses as they are more aware of their mistakes. We store information in schemas, and as we acquire new knowledge it changes to fit those schemas. Leading psychologists such as Elizabeth Loftus, Neil Bartlett, and Yullie & Cutshall have conducted research to show how our memory can be altered by psychological factors such as leading questions, reconstructive memory, and a focus on guns.
This research paper contains a large number of experiments and studies aimed at illustrating the unreliability of our memory and whether courts should rely on eyewitness testimony as the primary source. Age and gender also serve as factors influencing eyewitness testimony. Through research and analysis, this article concludes that eyewitness testimony should not be superior to other real evidence presented, as our memory is the least reliable source.
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It is worth investigating the case further when eyewitness testimony is the only evidence available, as false testimony can lead to prosecution of an innocent person. Word count: 260 CONTENTS Summary …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… … . Page 2 Introduction ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. Page 4 Discussion… …… ……………………………………………………………………………………………. Page 7 Tricky questions………………………………………………………………………………………………………… Page 7 Anxiety and stress…… …… …………………………………………………………………………………………….. Page 9 Weapon Focus ………………… … …… ……………………………………………………………………………… page 11
Reconstructive memory …………………………………………………………………………………………………. Page 11 Confident testimony ………………………………………………………………………………………………………. Page 14 Age …………………………………………………………………………………………………………. …… Page 15 Genre……………………………………………………………………………………………………… . Page 16 Conclusion ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… Page 17 References …… …… … ……………………………………………………………………………………….... Page 19 INTRODUCTION The reliability of eyewitness testimony has often been questioned in cases of crime and violence, but the justice system seems to ignore its shortcomings. Numerous psychologists have conducted experiments and studies on this subject.
Witness testimony has a large psychological background that judges, attorneys and juries seem to ignore. Our ability to remember certain situations and events can be distorted depending on the time and place of the event or the time and place of witness testimony. Cognitive psychologists have studied this phenomenon extensively and found that eyewitness accounts can be linked to human schemas, reconstructive memory, and our ability to recall. The knowledge we acquire of the world is stored in our brain as an organized package of information called a schema.
The “Schema Theory” states that the knowledge we have already acquired throughout our lives has a major impact on what we remember. According to Cohen (1986), quoted in Gross (64), the human mind uses past experiences to deal with new experiences. Our behavior is guided by the schemas we have in our brain. The new experiences we are confronted with are not only "replicated" in our memory, but reconstructed to fit our schemas. Memory reconstruction is an active process and occurs throughout life (Gross, 64). Therefore, the way we perceive an event is heavily influenced by our past experiences.
Human memory is considered an unreliable source if we apply the idea of memory's reconstructive and interpretive nature to witness testimony. The likelihood that people will be wrongly accused increases when the importance of testimony in accident and criminal cases increases and the guilty are therefore not held accountable (Gross, 64). Many experiments conclude that legal professionals and judges base their decisions on and base their decisions on witness testimony, however researchers have examined situations in which innocent people have been accused.
As cited in Miller's article (2006), Gary Wells (1998) examined forty of these cases and, using DNA testing, determined that all forty convicted suspects were in fact innocent. In thirty-six of those cases, witnesses wrongly accused suspects. The human brain has a limited capacity to deal with incoming information, but we encounter a variety of stimuli such as sights, sounds and smells in every moment. However, as mentioned above, when we encounter stimuli that conflict with our schemas, we reconstruct our memory to fit our chemas. The human brain therefore focuses on some aspects of the situation while ignoring others to deal with the sensory barrage. This process of choosing stimuli is called selective attention. Eyewitnesses tend to gather information relevant to their interests and may overlook other important aspects of the event (Glassman, 5). It is difficult for witnesses, because of their memory reconstruction, to reconsider their initial understanding once they have stated the facts in a certain way or have already identified a person as the performer (e.g. likely to recognize the same person in later formations, even if that person is not the artist ). The jury relies heavily on eyewitness testimony and ignores the dangers of false memories (Engelhardt, n.d.). Given these findings, this thesis will examine "the extent to which witness testimony is reliable in the current justice system," focusing on the main factors affecting our memory and recall.
Cognitive psychology plays an important role in this investigation as it includes the idea of memory and schemas. DISCUSSION "An account by people of an event they witnessed" (eyewitness psychology) is commonly referred to as eyewitness testimony. Someone may be asked to recall the event they witnessed and describe what happened. The jury tends to view witness testimony as a reliable source of information and pay close attention to it, but the witness may have had difficulty remembering the event and the testimony may be inaccurate.
Research on testimonies conducted by several psychologists has found that many psychological factors can influence them, such as: B. Questions, fear and stress, weapons and reconstructive memory (Psychology of Eyewitness). Factors such as age and gender can also affect how people remember events. Influence of Psychological Factors on Witness Testimony Misleading Questions American psychologist Elizabeth Loftus advocated the application of cognitive psychology to the real world.
His experiments showed how misleading information could lead eyewitnesses to reconstruct their memories (Gross, 64). A leading question is a question that contains information previously unknown to the witness. In one of his studies with Palmer (Loftus and Palmer, 1974), as cited in the article Memory (Psychology), participants viewed a videotape showing a two-car crash. After watching the video, participants were given a quiz with the question changed for participant groups.
A question was asked: “What was the speed of the cars when they collided? ” For other participants, the verb “hit” was replaced with “crushed”, “collided”, “hit” or “contacted”. Although all participants viewed the same videotape, their speed ratings differed significantly depending on how the question was asked. When the verb "contacted" was used the estimated average speed was 32 mph, when the verb was "hit" it was 34 mph, 38 mph when it was "hit", 39 mph when it was "crashed" and 41 mph when it was there was a bang.
Loftus conducted a follow-up study a week later, asking participants if there was any broken glass on the videotape. Participants given the verb “crush” were twice as likely to “remember” broken glass than participants given the verb “hit”. Information that came long after the original event was incorporated into that event, commemorating the original in a different way. The introduction of false signals distorted the participants' memories (Memory (Psychology)).
The above study by Loftus & Palmer shows the power of tricky questions. An answer is determined by how the question is asked. The tendency to distort memory of an event when later exposed to misleading information about it is called the misinformation effect. The witness's memory may be affected by questions from the police, friends, or lawyers. Memory reconstruction can also occur when information about the case or crime arrives weeks or months later. This can change what the witness has to say on the stand (memory (psychology)).
The questions and information provided in court can cause the witness to remember the incident differently and the testimony to be inaccurate. Leading questions lead to the reconstruction of memory so that new information fits into our existing schemes. Leading questions therefore tend to render eyewitness testimony unreliable in the current legal system. It is important that lawyers know the consequences of these problems and therefore articulate their problems well. anxiety and stress
In addition to key questions, fear and stress should be a psychological factor that influences the testimonies. Some researchers have questioned whether focusing attention is a reason for poor recall of a violent incident. Clifford and Scott (1978), cited in the article Eyewitness Testimony Psychology, found that people who witnessed a highly violent incident seem to remember less than people who witnessed a nonviolent incident. They conducted a study in which they showed a group of participants a film of violent assaults.
The control group, who saw a less violent version of the film, remembered more of the forty points about the event than did the participants. The control group was not exposed to very stressful conditions compared to the participants. Although this may not have been a real-life situation, the participants' memory was impaired by fear. An increase in anxiety and autonomic arousal is caused by violent incidents, which in turn are detrimental to memory. On the other hand, a study by Yullie and Cutshall (1986) (as cited in the Eyewitness Testimony Psychology article) contradicts Clifford and Scott's findings.
The research compiled by Yullie and Cutshall was drawn from a real-life situation, which made their data more accurate. Researchers showed that subjects had accurate memories when witnessing a stressful event up close. The event was a shooting outside a gun store in Canada. The scene witnessed was of a criminal who stole guns and money from the gun shop, but ended up being shot six times and dying at the scene. Shortly after the shooting, police asked that thirteen people who were present at the time of the shooting and who had witnessed the shooting be interviewed.
Five months later, the same thirteen people were interviewed again. Turns out the recall was that accurate even five months after witnessing the event. The police's two misleading questions neither affected her memories nor altered her statements. However, a limitation of this study was that witnesses interviewed were at different distances from the scene and those closer experienced higher levels of stress, which in turn may have supported their ability to vividly recall the event (psychology of witness statements).
Through the two studies conducted on anxiety and memory, we can say that experiments conducted in laboratory conditions may not give the same results as in a real situation. Recall of a real-life situation is accurate even after a few months, and loaded questions have the same effect as in laboratory experiments (eg, Loftus & Palmer, 1974) (Eywitness Testimony Psychology). The above information provides assurance that the testimony of an eyewitness is not entirely in doubt, depending on the situation and the witness's role in the event.
There may be some situations where memory distortion occurs and other situations where it doesn't. Whether or not memory distortion or reconstruction occurs depends on the state of mind of the witness at the time of the event. The individual's emotional state can cloud their reason, judgment and perception; Therefore, it is necessary to be neutral and impartial when witnessing a crime scene. Gun Focus The study by Yullie and Cutshall (1986) also refers to 'gun focus' as a psychological factor influencing eyewitness testimony. When firearms are involved, the witness remembers less details about the perpetrator and more details about the gun (Psychology of Eyewitness Witness). An experiment performed by Johnson and Scott (1976) as described in Loftus et al. (56) cited illustrated this phenomenon. In the no-gun condition, participants in the adjoining room heard light conversation about an equipment failure, saw an accomplice enter the room with a grease pen, observed him utter a single line, and left. In the "weapons" state, participants heard heated conversation along with objects breaking, saw an accomplice enter the room with a bloodied letter opener, watched him utter a single line, and then left.
Participants in both conditions observed the subject for four seconds. It was found that 33% of participants in the bloody letter opener condition correctly identified the culprit and 49% of participants in the greasy pencil condition correctly identified the culprit. A reduced ability to remember the accomplice was associated with the presence of a weapon. The jury must determine whether or not weapons were involved in the crime. This is because the eyewitness is less likely to recognize the criminal, and an innocent person can be found guilty.
Our attention is often drawn to the gun and we ignore what else might be going on around us. Reconstructive Memory The reliability of witness testimony can still be debated through reconstructive memory. As mentioned earlier, reconstructive memory is another of the many psychological factors that influence witness testimony. Psychologist Neil Bartlett played a key role in linking reconstructive memory to eyewitness accounts, stating that "memories are subject to personal interpretation, dependent on our learned or cultural norms and values".
We have already established the fact that human memory changes according to the way we store information in our brain, it is not stored exactly as it seems; Different people interpret a situation differently and therefore store it in a way that makes sense to them. The brain stores information in schemas, but these schemas are capable of unconsciously distorting "unacceptable" and unknown knowledge to "fit" it with the already stored information or schemas we have, which in turn leads to unreliable eyewitness accounts ( Eyewitness Testimony Psychology). Bartlett's research on reconstructive memory concluded that "memory is an active process and is subject to individual interpretation or construction" (Eywitness Testimony Psychology). War of the Ghosts (Bartlett (1932) quoted in Eyewitness Testimony Psychology) was his most famous study, in which he tried to show that we try to connect what we remember to our existing schemas. In other words, our memory is not only an accurate record of what happened, but also what we make of it.
Bartlett mentioned that we often involuntarily modify our memories to make them more meaningful to us. In Bartlett's study, participants were told a story and had to retell it to someone else. The story was an American folk tale entitled "The War of the Spirits". When the participants were asked to tell the details of the story, each individual seemed to be telling it in his or her own way. As participants retold the story, it became shorter, cryptic ideas were rationalized or omitted, and details were changed to be more conventional or familiar.
Information about ghosts was omitted because it was difficult to explain, and participants kept bringing up the idea of “not going because I didn't tell my parents where I was going” because that circumstance was more familiar to them. Through the above study, Bartlett was able to conclude that our memory is skewed by the existing knowledge and schemas we have in the human brain. Hence, it seems that each individual reconstructs their memory according to their individual values and attitudes towards the world. This is a clear indication that our memories are far from reliable.
The way we see and remember things depends on our ethics, our culture, our beliefs and previous experiences. Also, through reconstructive memory, we make hasty generalizations based on information that we "think" might have happened based on the information we already have stored. We mold and assemble the incident according to our stereotypes and expectations. This can be further elaborated by a study by Allport and Postman (1947), cited in Jarvis & Russell (131), in which they presented participants with a photograph of an unkempt white man threatening an elegant black man with a razor.
When the participants were later instructed to recall the photo, they recalled an unkempt black man threatening an elegant white man with a razor. This fit with the American stereotypes of the time; The participants reconstructed their memories according to their expectations. We can say that reconstructive memory is another reason that makes eyewitness testimony unreliable; However, some psychologists believe that schema theory exaggerates the inaccuracy of memory. It cannot predict what and how people remember because we do not know what schemes are used.
Allport and Postman's study also references another way our cognitive system introduces error, namely through inference. Inference emphasizes how people tend to make assumptions beyond literal meaning. Many memory biases are part of this conclusion, in which what the eyewitness testified to is not what was perceived but a mere extension of it, resulting in an inaccurate recollection of the event or incident (Glassman, 440). Testimony Reliable testimony is another mistake that leads to innocent people going to jail.
When witnesses say with absolute confidence, "That's the guy who did this... I'll never forget that face," it's hard to argue with their conviction. Confidence is a powerful trait, and while people can make mistakes with their testimony, the way they testify carries a strong score in front of the jury. It becomes difficult to question your evidence and discredit your feelings after learning that the witness went through a horrific crime, especially when they are making their testimony with absolute certainty.
Juries generally believe them. A major flaw that Elizabeth Loftus points out is that judges often do not seek expert help to corroborate the errors in eyewitness testimony for the jury. It would be helpful to have some cognitive psychologists on the jury to point out the factors influencing eyewitness testimony; However, some judges will allow this while others will not. Juries unaware of eyewitness errors have a higher percentage of unfair verdicts than juries informed of the errors. Elizabeth Loftus went on to explain that a jury unaware of memory bias will tend to make their verdict based on their "gut feeling." Juries that ignore these shortcomings rely heavily on the witness and tend to neglect the balance that must exist between eyewitness testimony and physical scientific evidence. Loftus also pointed out that if a witness sees the accused repeatedly, even if they are innocent, they will be encoded in the victim's memory.
The victim can continuously see the suspect in photographs and line-ups throughout the investigation and trial. This can lead to the witness no longer being able to recognize the true perpetrator, especially if the act was only observed for a short time and the victim was unable to perceive all the surrounding stimuli. Therefore, if the witness testifies with absolute confidence that the "suspect" is the real criminal, it will be difficult for the jury to argue (Miller, 2006). Old
Psychological factors certainly play a major role in testimonies, but the characteristics of the witness are also important. The jury must also consider the age and sex of the witness. Certain investigations were conducted to determine the accuracy of a child's eyewitness account. it is far less accurate than adult testimony. Because children are not able to give concrete answers to questions that require explanation. Children have lower cognitive competence i. It is. Their information processing, problem solving, language and attention skills are underdeveloped.
Psychologists at the University of Southampton conducted research to analyze a child's ability to answer repeated questions during testimony. When a child makes a statement, they are afraid of being wrong, so repeated questions are not helpful when it comes to children's eyewitness testimonies, as the questions will confuse them and make them think their original story is not true. The child's first piece of information is always the best. The younger the child, the less precise the statement. Children often give false information due to their need for social recognition.
Karpel et al. (2001), as cited in Science Aid, conducted surveys related to age and testimony. His goal was to find out how reliable eyewitness testimonies are for older people. Young adults (17-25) and older adults (65-85) watched a robbery video. Then they were asked to recall what they saw on the video. The results of both age groups were compared and it was observed that the information given by the young people was more accurate and their statements were less likely to change when asked.
To ensure that the information provided by seniors is correct, it is advisable not to subject them to misleading questions as their memories are easily distorted. Furthermore, older adults do not remember the context and therefore need to be questioned carefully. As we have seen, age is another factor affecting eyewitness accounts and their reliability. It is important to know the age of the witness before proceeding with the case as psychologists may have little idea of how reliable the information provided can be (Science Aid).
Gender There is still no concrete evidence that men and women have a significant difference in identifying an offender. Research by Shapiro & Penrod (1986), as cited in Wells & Olson (280), found that females are more likely to make accurate identifications, but are also more likely to make false identifications, as they are more likely to try and "try" to identify . Because of this, men and women have equal ability to identify criminals and provide eyewitness testimony.
However, since male and female brains are slightly different, both sexes will pay more attention to the different characteristics of the incident, but the general identification ability of eyewitnesses is indistinguishable. CONCLUSION Through research we have found that eyewitness testimony can be quite fallible and that there are a number of factors that appear to affect our memory. It is important for the jury to be aware of these factors before reaching a verdict, and should not place undue reliance on factors such as trust and vivid descriptions of detail. If possible, it is advisable to find evidence other than eyewitness accounts. An important limitation of the research reviewed is that most of the studies that have been conducted regarding eyewitness testimony are laboratory studies. This prevents us from generalizing the collected data to the real world. One implication for future research would be to conduct more interviews with those who have witnessed crime and violence, rather than basing conclusions on laboratory studies. In addition, it may be useful to conduct research on various factors affecting eyewitness testimony (e.g., a study comparing the ability to recall events when the variables are age, gender, weapons, and misleading questions). The limitation presented does not change the fact that human memory is a very personal and comparative aspect and therefore cannot serve as a basis for important decisions. It is important to realize that memory changes over time and each subsequent attempt to recall the event is just another distorted interpretation of the event. Eyewitnesses may refute or support the general facts about the case, but the details and their testimony must not outweigh the evidence presented in court.
Studies have also shown that innocent people have been accused on the basis of eyewitness testimony, which explains the unreliability of this testimony. Our ability to remember an event is affected by the information provided after the event, the level of stress and anxiety we are in during the event also affects it, the presence of guns also distorts our memory , reconstructive memory is another psychological factor that makes witness testimony unreliable, our expectations, age and gender also play a role in testimony.
All of these factors need to be considered when the evidence presented is witness testimony. The reliability of eyewitness testimony in the current justice system is very low and needs to be analyzed in detail before any conclusions can be drawn. LITERATURE Engelhardt, L. (no year). "The Problem with Testimony". Now. Retrieved January 2, 2010 from http://agora. Stanford. edu/sjls/Issue%20One/fisher&tversky. html. Eyewitness Research Psychology. (2007). A Level Online Psychology Course and Resources Retrieved February 2, 2010 from http://www. simply psychology. pwp . over there. co. uk/eyewitness testimony. html Glassman, William E. (2000). Approaches to Psychology. Buckingham, England: Open UP. Gross, Richard D (1999). Major in Psychology. London: Hodder & Stoughton. Jarvis, M., & Russell, J. (2002). Key Ideas in Psychology. Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes. Loftus, E.F., Loftus, G.R., & Messo, J. (1987). Some facts about weapon focus. law and human behavior. Memory (Psychology) - MSN Encarta. (n.d.). Retrieved September 14, 2009 from http://encarta. msn. om/encyclopedia_761578303_5/Memory_(psychology). html Miller, Z. (2006, October 14). The accuracy of testimony and its shortcomings. Retrieved December 23, 2009 from http://ezinearticles. with/? The-Accuracy-of-Eye-Evidence-and-Its-Errors&id=328261 Scientific Help: Eyewitness Testimonies. (n.d.) Science Aid: High School, A Level and GCSE Science. Retrieved December 13, 2009 from http://scienceaid. co. uk/psychologie/cognition/eyewitness. html Wells, Gary L & Olson, Elizabeth A (2003). eyewitness. Ames, Iowa: State University of Iowa.
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Studies have shown that mistaken eyewitness testimony accounts for about half of all wrongful convictions. Researchers at Ohio State University examined hundreds of wrongful convictions and determined that roughly 52 percent of the errors resulted from eyewitness mistakes.Is eyewitness testimony too unreliable to trust? ›
Eyewitness testimony can be unreliable due to conditions at the scene of a crime, memory “contamination” and misrepresentation during trial. Eyewitness testimony can be an incredibly compelling form of evidence during criminal justice proceedings in Austin.Is an eyewitness account is an example of testimonial evidence? ›
Using eyewitnesses to identify a suspect as the perpetrator to the crime is a form of direct testimonial evidence that is used for forensic purposes. It is used to establish facts in a criminal investigation or prosecution.Is eyewitness testimony persuasive? ›
There is now a wealth of evidence, from research conducted over several decades, suggesting that eyewitness testimony is probably the most persuasive form of evidence presented in court, but in many cases, its accuracy is dubious.What are 3 factors that affect the reliability of an eyewitness? ›
- Memory reconstruction. ...
- Lineup issues. ...
- Visual characteristics. ...
- Anxiety and stress. ...
- Obtaining legal representation.
All the above- mentioned factors affecting eyewitness identification will now be further explored. There are four factors stated in MacLin and colleagues' 2001 study, which involve viewing conditions in the recognition of a face. These are: exposure time, delay, attention and arousal, and weapon focus.Why is eyewitness testimony convincing? ›
Why is the eyewitness testimony so powerful and convincing? Because people in general and jurors in particular believe that our memories stamp the facts of experiences on a permanent, non erasable tape, like a computer disk or videotape that is write-protected.What is a major problem with eyewitness testimony? ›
Inability of human memory to record like a video camera: Eyewitnesses to a crime are often later unable to recall important details, such as a complete physical description of the perpetrator, including hair color, height, weight, and age.Do police rely on eyewitness testimony? ›
When law enforcement officers in Los Angeles and throughout California, are looking to solve a crime, they often rely heavily on statements from eyewitnesses. Such testimony has been long held by judges, juries and prosecutors as some of the most solid evidence.What are the two key properties of eyewitness testimony? ›
Wells says eyewitness testimony has two key properties: one, it's often unreliable; and two, it is highly persuasive to jurors.
They often can't see things accurately when they are far away, or when they only had a few seconds to see a criminal event occurring. It can be difficult to provide a proper description of a person, including exactly what they looked like and any definitive features.
Despite a high rate of error (as many as 1 in 4 stranger eyewitness identifications are wrong), eyewitness identifications are considered some of the most powerful evidence against a suspect.How reliable is eyewitness testimony as a primary source in history? ›
In reality, however, eyewitnesses are notoriously unreliable, especially if a long period of time has elapsed since the event that is being recounted. It is not that witnesses deliberately lie (although some obviously do) but that over time and constant retelling, the testimony evolves in subtle but significant ways.What is the value of eyewitness testimony? ›
Despite enormous scientific rather technological advancements, “Eyewitness Testimony” is still considered an integral part of criminal justice system. Eyewitness testimony is based on human discernment, which is malleable and can be easily distorted without consciousness leading to erroneous identification.What factors make a witnesses reliable? ›
A credible witness is a witness who comes across as competent and worthy of belief. Their testimony is assumed to be more than likely true due to their experience, knowledge, training, and sense of honesty. The judge and jurors will use these factors to determine whether they believe the witness is credible.Should eyewitness testimony be admissible in court? ›
The testimony of a witness that he saw the accused commit or participate in the commission of the crime for which the accused is being tried shall be admissible in evidence in a criminal prosecution in any trial court ordained and established under article III of the Constitution of the United States.What factors should help determine a witness reliability? ›
Second, to assess whether an identification is reliable, judges were instructed to examine the following five factors: (1) the opportunity of the witness to view the criminal at the time of the crime; (2) the witness' degree of attention; (3) the accuracy of the witness' prior description of the criminal; (4) the level ...How can we make eyewitness testimony more reliable? ›
Ensure that police put in writing why a suspect is believed to be guilty of a specific crime before placing him or her in a lineup. Use a lineup with several people instead of what is known as a showup only featuring a single suspect. Avoid repetition of a lineup with the same suspect and same eyewitness.What are the 3 forms of eyewitness identification? ›
There are three primary forms of eyewitness identification: lineup, showup, and photographic identification. These typically are used in combination with one another and with scientific identifications.Which statement about eyewitness testimony is the most accurate? ›
What is the most accurate statement about eyewitness testimony? Witnesses who are "absolutely certain" in their identification are no more likely to be accurate than those who are only "fairly sure."
Eyewitness testimony is considered one of the most convincing evidence presented to jurors and has historically been considered the gold standard , .How many wrongful convictions can you get from eyewitness testimony? ›
Several recent high-profile stories show you just how badly things can go when mistakes happen. We read statistics like this: Eyewitness misidentifications are known to have played a role in 70 percent of the 349 wrongful convictions which were overturned based on DNA evidence.Who determines whether the witness's testimony is credible? ›
The judge or jury must determine in every case with respect to every witness whether the witness is credible in his or her testimony. This determination also applies to the victim in a stalking or harassment case. Credibility is critical to both the prosecution and defense in a criminal case.What factors affect the effectiveness of an expert witness's testimony? ›
- Knowledge. This is likely the most obvious and expected factor of the four listed. ...
- Trustworthiness. ...
- Confidence. ...
Eyewitness testimony is critically important to the justice system. Indeed, it is necessary in all criminal trials to reconstruct facts from past events, and eyewitnesses are commonly very important to this effort.Is eyewitness testimony the leading cause of wrongful convictions? ›
Mistaken Identifications are the Leading Factor In Wrongful Convictions. Mistaken eyewitness identifications contributed to approximately 69% of the more than 375 wrongful convictions in the United States overturned by post-conviction DNA evidence.How reliable is eyewitness testimony quizlet? ›
Eyewitnesses overall are not that accurate. Contrary to what many people believe, eyewitnesses are not that reliable. You go back in and can reconstruct your memories. Memories are not films or tape recorders, one goes back to piece stuff together.How can the validity and reliability of eyewitness testimony be improved? ›
Ensure that police put in writing why a suspect is believed to be guilty of a specific crime before placing him or her in a lineup. Use a lineup with several people instead of what is known as a showup only featuring a single suspect. Avoid repetition of a lineup with the same suspect and same eyewitness.How often is eyewitness testimony inaccurate? ›
One of the main causes of wrongful convictions is eyewitness misidentifications. Despite a high rate of error (as many as 1 in 4 stranger eyewitness identifications are wrong), eyewitness identifications are considered some of the most powerful evidence against a suspect.Why might eyewitness testimony not be accurate? ›
Moreover, since each person interprets the events in terms of his own world view, different eyewitnesses observing the same event may have different interpretations and different memories. To put it succinctly: "We do not see what we sense. We see what we think we sense.
6 factors that tell police if a witness is credible
- Youth. ...
- Old Age. ...
- Intelligence. ...
- Mental State. ...
- Relationship to People Involved. ...
- Background Characteristics.