Resuming 6 Things that Can Impact the Reliability of Eye Witness Testimony (Pt. 1), here, we will continue our discussion regarding some of the specific factors that can negatively affect the accuracy of eye witness testimony in criminal cases.
More Factors that Can Affect the Accuracy of Eye Witness Testimony
Transference is the act of transferring one’s emotions, ideas or perceptions onto another individual. In terms of eye witness testimony, this can end up meaning that witnesses end up transferring their experience onto someone whom they may have seen on a previous occasion, thereby causing them to wrongfully identify a person as the suspect in a crime.
For example, it’s not uncommon for eye witness testimony to mistakenly identify someone as a suspect because the witness may have seen that suspect on some other occasion prior to the crime.
4. Information obtained after the incident
When eye witness testimony is given, the assumption is that we are hearing the version of events exactly as they happened in the perspective of a particular witness. This, however, is not always the case, as it is very possible that information that witnesses end up hearing or obtaining after the crime or incident ends up making its way into their story and version of events.
For instance, let’s say that an eye witness allegedly saw a suspect in a liquor store robbery enter the store. Then, days later, the eye witness ends up hearing that the suspect fled the scene on a motorcycle. It’s quite possible that hearing this piece of information may end up changing the eye witness testimony so that now the witness claims to have heard the motorcycle departing from the scene of the robbery.
This fact about eye witness testimony can be very troubling, especially if it’s been some time since an alleged crime occurred and witnesses have been exposed to all sorts of information (including from news reports, police, alleged victims, etc.). In these cases, it will be essential to carefully review the initial eye witness testimony and statements given to police and see how (or whether) these statements may have changed over time.
Be sure to look for the upcoming conclusion to this blog series!
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