When you have to go to court and fight an Arkansas criminal charge, you may feel heightened anxiety if there are eyewitnesses who are planning to provide their accounts or testify against you. Your anxiousness in this situation may have merit. Mistaken eyewitness identifications are now the leading cause of wrongful convictions in the United States.
According to the Innocence Project, DNA evidence has resulted in the overturning of more than 375 criminal convictions across the United States. Eyewitness misidentifications played a role in 69% of them.
Reviewing the accuracy of eyewitness identifications
Many judges and juries find eyewitness accounts to be among the most convincing and compelling types of evidence out there. Yet, many eyewitness accounts are far from accurate. Sometimes, this is simply because eyewitness accounts rely on memories, and memories are susceptible to distortion over time. Other times, they are the result of law enforcement lineups where the party administering the lineup gives the witness unintentional cues that indicate a certain person was responsible for a criminal act.
Improving the accuracy of eyewitness identifications
Some law enforcement agencies are making efforts to improve the accuracy of eyewitness accounts by making sure those who administer a lineup have no idea who the suspected guilty party is. Many are also encouraging those running the lineups to tell witnesses that the suspect may or may not be present in the lineup at all. Others yet are asking their eyewitness to express just how confident they are when fingering a particular individual.
Eyewitness identifications may mean the difference between you having to go to jail or prison or continuing on with life as you know it. Thus, improving the accuracy of eyewitness identifications is critical for law enforcement agencies nationwide.