Why Eyewitness Testimony Is Valued In a Court of Law

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When a prosecution or defense is looking for a form of evidence that proves their case beyond a reasonable doubt, there will be all manner of formats and categories that are looked over in detail.

 

From scientific evidence with DNA testing, DUI admissions and crime scene samples to intercepted communications, documentation, statements on the record from the defendant and other parties, there is a myriad of subjects that can become admissible in a court of law.

 

What will be held up as one of the most important facets of evidence is that of eyewitness testimony. Considered direct evidence that is beyond circumstantial, this is an element that is heavily relied upon to convince a judge or jury that the events they described actually took place.

 

Here we will detail why this form of evidence is so strongly valued in the legal profession.

Corroborated Against Evidence

 

Eyewitness testimony is rarely made in isolation from other facts of a case. In the event of a murder, a robbery or an assault charge, there will either be a number of eyewitnesses, scientific evidence or other types that can be regarded as circumstantial that fit a narrative of the prosecution or defense.

 

Attorneys will strive to source an eyewitness who has likely given a statement to law enforcement on the scene of the alleged crime in real time. Whether they fit their argument or not, there will be a need to validate or throw into question the legitimacy and standing of this individual.

Human Nature To Believe Testimony

 

There is a strong psychological element at play when we talk about the validity of eyewitness testimony. From the perspective of a psychologist who examines human behavior from a broader point of view, there is an intangible quality to a citizen that takes an oath and proceeds to outline what they saw as it pertains to the case. It is only human nature for members of a jury to believe an eyewitness that can be proven was in a position to see the crime play out before their own eyes.

Problems and Concerns

 

Whilst there is incredible value to an eyewitness to a case as they take the stand to make their official statement, there have been cases where such testimony has led to false convictions and exonerations. Cold cases in hindsight have proven to weigh this testimony too heavily in favor of one side or the other as later DNA evidence would end up contradicting the verdict handed down to the defendant.

 

This becomes a matter for a judge or jury to make an assessment on the eyewitness’s character and credibility.