Skip to content

Eyewitness identification is incredibly convincing to a jury. If a witness testifies that they saw the defendant commit the crime, there is a high probability that the jury will believe them. But should they? Numerous problems with eyewitness testimony call into question the reliability of eyewitness identifications. 

Here are some of the problems

  1. Psychologists have found that memories are not exact replicas of what happened; rather, memories are reconstructions of what happened. The brain does not work like a video recorder.
  2. Witnesses experience extreme stress at the crime scene and during the identification process, which could alter the accuracy of their identification.
  3. When weapons are present, witnesses often focus on the weapon more than the perpetrator, weakening their memory of what the person looked like.
  4. Cross-racial identification occurs often but is prone to inaccuracy. 
  5. Police and prosecutorial agencies sometimes use suggestive eyewitness identification procedures. 
  6. Perpetrators are known to use disguises.
  7. If the perpetrator lacks distinctive characteristics like tattoos or extreme height, it makes accurate identification difficult.