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3 Factors That Influence Eyewitness Accounts

On Behalf of | Feb 24, 2016 | Criminal Defense, Drug Charge, Firm News, Legal Blog, Legal System

Eyewitness identification is widely recognized as a cause of wrongful convictions in the U.S. and, according to a policy review by The Justice Project, accounts for “more wrongful convictions than all other causes combined.” While eyewitness identification is critical in Michigan theft cases, its credibility is suspect. With the help of a Lansing criminal attorney, you can learn how to defend yourself against misidentification.

3 Factors That Influence Eyewitness Accounts

Not all eyewitness accounts share equal credibility. In fact, multiple factors can play a role in leading to misidentification. Some of these are environmental, while others are due to natural psychological phenomena.

  • Poor Sighting: thefts often occur under poor lighting conditions and at lightning speed. Because of this, it can be difficult for a victim to notice a culprit’s actions. The speed and time of a theft can lead to unreliable eyewitness accounts, especially if the theft occurred at night under poor lighting conditions.
  • Poor Judgment: studies show that when presented with a lineup of possible culprits, a witness is more likely to pick a person who looks like the culprit, even when the culprit is not actually present. This can lead to misidentification and the conviction of an innocent person.
  • Overconfidence: a witness’s level of certainty that he or she correctly identified a culprit can be influenced by factors unrelated to his or her memory of the culprit, after his or her selection takes place. This means that a person can become more confident in his or her selection, through unintentional cues or suggestion, even after identifying a possibly innocent person as culprit.

These factors, among others, make eyewitness accounts suspect. Because of natural psychological phenomena and environmental factors, the credibility of an eyewitness account can often be called into question. If you’ve been charged with a theft in Michigan, contact an experienced Lansing criminal attorney for help today.

Alternative Forms of Evidence: Fingerprints and DNA

Rather than rely on eyewitness accounts, a prosecutor may consider alternate forms of evidence. These can include:

  • DNA evidence — evidence that a suspect was at the scene of the crime
  • Fingerprints — evidence the a suspect came into contact with objects at the place of theft

DNA and fingerprints can provide alternative forms of evidence in a prospector’s case. However, like eyewitness accounts, even DNA and fingerprint evidence can be called into question. If a theft occurred in a workplace or home, for example, where a suspect frequently visited, so-called incriminating evidence might be present for a perfectly commonplace reason, one that is unrelated to the crime.

How Lansing Criminal Attorney DeBruin Can Help You In Michigan Eyewitness Credibility Cases

If you’ve been charged with a theft in Michigan and have reason to believe your case rests on eyewitness credibility, contact DeBruin Law today. Our experienced Lansing criminal defense attorneys will review the eyewitness accounts and fight to defend you against criminal allegations. Some thefts happen so quickly and in such poor lighting that almost anyone could be charged with conducting them. To ensure that you receive fair treatment under the law, contact DeBruin Law at 517-324-4303 today.