If you face felony charges, one thing the prosecution team may try and do is get eyewitness evidence. They will look for people who are willing to say they saw you. They may say they saw you carrying out the crime. Or they may say they saw you in the area around the time the incident took place.
Eyewitness error can have disastrous consequences
Eyewitnesses have played a significant role in putting people behind bars. Yet, not all the people they helped convict were guilty. As one recent example shows, eyewitnesses often get it wrong. In this case, six eyewitnesses got it wrong, and as a result, the judge sentenced an innocent man to life in prison. The man served seven years before DNA evidence, and someone else’s confession to the murder enabled his release.
Do eyewitnesses lie on purpose?
There may be some eyewitnesses who are willing to lie, perhaps because they are trying to pin the blame on you for something they did. However, most believe they are telling the truth when they say they saw you. In other words, they get it wrong. It is a costly mistake to make.
How police implement lineups matters
Georgia is one of the states that has changed how they carry out lineups to reduce errors. Changes include:
- Ensuring the people used in a line up look similar to the suspect
- Using lineups that might not even have the suspect in
- Ensuring those running the line up do not give inadvertent non-verbal clues
- Asking eyewitnesses how certain they are of their identification
Questioning how police ran a lineup and challenging eyewitness reliability are both options for defending against felony charges.