The development of DNA technology has forever changed criminal cases. DNA evidence can now be analyzed and provide solid proof of whether or not someone was involved in an alleged crime.
One thing that this has highlighted is how unfair the justice system can be without DNA evidence. Hundreds of people who had been convicted at trial have since been cleared by DNA evidence, showing that they never should have spent time behind bars at all. And, in most of these cases, it’s the result of inaccurate witness testimony.
Why are witnesses wrong?
Per the Innocence Project, there have been 375 exonerations since the first one in 1989. Witness misidentification, such a critical mistake, was found to be a contributing reason in 69% of these false convictions. It may not have been the only reason, but it was very clear that witnesses were getting things wrong and that this was swaying the jury.
Witnesses make these mistakes for many reasons. They may be biased against the defendant. They may not have actually had a clear view. They may be influenced by outside information, such as comments on social media or local news stories.
In fact, it has been found that bringing up memories can effectively re-write those memories. It could be that the witness honestly believes they remember something that is wrong. They may have created that memory by talking about the case so often, thinking about what occurred and combining it with theories, photos, videos, news stories or even other testimonies.
For all of these reasons and more, it’s very important to understand your legal defense options when facing charges.