Are eyewitnesses credible?

In a New York criminal trial, both the state and the defense may call witnesses. In many criminal cases, some of the most compelling evidence comes from eyewitness testimony. However, not all witness testimony is reliable. There are some reasons that eyewitnesses may not be credible in court.

What are some reasons that an eyewitness may not be credible?

There are several reasons that eyewitness testimony may not be credible, including:

Time delays – A criminal trial typically occurs a significant period of time after the event. Memories can fade over time.
Bias – Sometimes, a witness may have a reason that they want the defendant to be found guilty. Their opinion can create bias in their testimony. It’s important to point out these biases as part of the criminal defense.
Ability to observe – A witness may not have a great point of view in order to experience an event. There may be obstructions to their vision or hearing, for example. An impact to the ability to observe an event may make eyewitness testimony unreliable.
Inattention – Events can happen quickly. Someone may be paying attention to other things and miss critical details. Even if a person is in proximity to where events occur, if their attention is diverted, they may not have helpful information to offer.
Influence – Undue influence can impact witness testimony. A person may face pressure from an interested party in order to change their testimony or refuse to cooperate. The inappropriate influence may make it impossible to receive credible testimony from the witness.

Evaluating the credibility of witnesses

Attorneys understand reasons that eyewitness testimony may not be credible, and they could investigate witnesses and prepare your defense. The defense might point out how testimony is unreliable. Questioning the credibility of eyewitness testimony is one important part of preparing a defense against criminal charges.