John Wesley Hall

Are these types of evidence really reliable?

Courts rely on solid evidence to convict a person of a crime. Yet sometimes, it’s difficult to extract proof of the crime from the evidence at hand. Other times, evidence that seems to point in one direction is altogether misleading. This can unfortunately lead to wrongful convictions.

While some pieces of evidence may be dependable enough to convict you, certain evidence can sometimes be dubious and not as reliable as you may think.

Breath tests

Recently, breath tests have come under fire for putting innocent people in jail after producing false positive results. From basic roadside preliminary breath tests to breathalyzers administered at police stations, there are a number of factors that can trigger inaccurate results.

Many of the problems surrounding breath tests have to do with the machines themselves. Software or programming issues can cause the results to read higher than they actually are. Operator error can also skew breath test evidence.

Eyewitness testimony

While eyewitness testimonies can be helpful for prosecutors to put pieces of a case together, they aren’t necessarily always reliable. Human memory is easy to distort, influence or contaminate, especially in traumatic or overwhelming situations.

Factors that can affect a person’s eyewitness testimony include weather, time of day and inherent or learned bias.

Video footage

Just as with eyewitness testimony, video footage isn’t always as dependable as it may seem. Although it records events exactly as they happen, it is the interpretation of the events on screen that can sometimes be unreliable.

Video footage can sometimes be fuzzy or blurry. And someone’s prejudiced interpretation of an unclear image could be one of many things can lead to an unfair sentence.

DNA tests

A DNA match might register as an automatic guilty charge. However, while it’s true that DNA testing has improved a court’s ability to convict people, that doesn’t mean it’s a faultless system.

DNA test results are prone to tampering and contamination. In some cases, it’s even possible to plant DNA at the scene of a crime. Just because investigators find your DNA at the scene of a crime doesn’t necessarily mean you are guilty.

Fight back against the evidence

Don’t lose hope when you’re facing criminal charges. Not only is it possible to fight any evidence against you, but it can be worth it when your liberty and future are at stake.

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