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Witness testimony can lead to wrongful convictions 

On Behalf of | Dec 21, 2021 | New Mexico State Criminal Appeals

When bringing their case to the courts, the prosecution will rely upon numerous forms of evidence. Testimony from witnesses is among the most compelling forms of evidence they have at hand. A convincing account from witnesses at the scene can stack the odds against the accused. 

Frequently, witnesses get it right and offer a truthful account that brings justice to all parties. Nonetheless, witnesses are only human and they are prone to prejudice and plain human error. In fact, research suggests that unreliable witness testimony plays a significant role in wrongful convictions. Outlined below are some key reasons why witnesses occasionally get it wrong. 

A person’s senses are limited

Witnesses tend to be caught off guard by the commission of a crime. Also, criminal offenses are frequently completed within a matter of seconds. This gives witnesses a limited time to really process what has happened. As a result, there may be a lot of blanks to fill in and the memory does not always get this right. Furthermore, rarely do crimes happen in a perfectly lit environment that is free from distractions. A lack of lighting or clear visual access to the offender could result in an inability to identify the perpetrator accurately. 

The human memory is not perfect

Criminal trials rarely come to fruition within a short period of time. It might take months, even years, for both the prosecution and defense to fully establish their case. During this time, witnesses may be subjected to outside influences and their memories could become distorted. The truth is that the ability of humans to recall events in the past is not always as efficient as first anticipated.  

If you feel that you have been wronged by the criminal justice system, there may be a route of appeal open to you if a witness in your case recants, if new witnesses are found or there are other causes that make your conviction questionable. Find out more today.