Additional Factors That Can Affect the Accuracy of Eye Witness Testimony
5. The presence of a weapon or multiple suspects
When eye witnesses to crimes may have been personally involved in the incident (maybe because they were victims of the criminal activity), the reliability of their eye witness testimony can be seriously compromised if or when:
- A weapon was used in the course of committing the crime – Whether this weapon is a knife, gun or other deadly weapon, the mere presence of a weapon can intensify witnesses’ stress and impact the accuracy of their memories.
- More than one suspect perpetrated the crime – Trying to remember the faces, heights and other physical features of suspects is far more difficult when there are two or more people who have allegedly committed a crime.
6. The nature of the memory itself
The way that the human memory works can also be problematic when it comes to accurate eye witness testimony. This is because (among other things) our memories:
- Are inherently personal – This means that, no matter what, our memories of a situation can never be totally objective. They will always be colored by our points of view and our beliefs, making our memories (and eye witness testimony) inherently subjective.
- Can distort our perceptions – Studies have shown that our memories can have systematic biases when it comes to remembering specific details, including those related to size, color, speed, etc.For instance, while it’s been proven that people tend to remember colors more vividly, it’s also been demonstrated that people tend to overestimate slower speeds and underestimate faster ones when they are asked to recall them. This means that the details of events can be far different in the retelling of them through eye witness testimony.
- Can be biased based on how memories are retrieved – The questions people are asked when they are giving eye witness testimony can impact how those memories are retrieved and retold and, as a result, how reliable or accurate they may be.
- Can change with continual retelling – As people continue to recount eye witness testimony, the retelling over time can result in their memories or stories starting to evolve (like, for instance, by filling in missing details over time).
Colorado Springs Criminal Defense Lawyers at Kohn Law Firm
Have you or a loved one been charged with a misdemeanor or felony crime? If so, the Colorado Springs criminal defense lawyers at Kohn Law Firm are ready to aggressively defend your rights and help you bring your case to a successful resolution. At Kohn Law Firm, we are here to help you:
- Navigate the complexities of an intricate criminal justice system
- Minimize the negative impacts on you and your family
- Ultimately help you protect your freedom and future.
To learn more about how we can help you, set up a free initial consultation with us by calling us at (719) 328-9555 or by emailing us using the contact form at the top of this page.
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