When a credible eyewitness identifies someone during a criminal investigation, Louisiana prosecutors may claim to have a strong case. However, things could fall apart for the prosecutor when the case moves to trial. Eyewitness testimony is not always credible, and witnesses sometimes make mistakes. Once the witness’s credibility collapses, the defendant could receive a not guilty verdict.
Troubles with eyewitness testimony
An apparent drawback to eyewitness testimony centers on people simply making mistakes. Although someone believes they saw a particular person commit a violent or property crime, they did not see the person they thought they saw. They saw someone in a green jacket and black hat, but someone else in the neighborhood could be dressed the same way. A subsequent arrest could involve the wrong suspect and a mistaken witness.
Other troubles with eyewitness testimony could include someone being too far away from the other person to make a credible identification. The weather or reduced lighting may cause the same. And then there are more ominous reasons for troubled eyewitness testimony.
Violations of a suspect’s rights
Sometimes, a witness might outright lie about what they saw. There are several reasons why a witness might lie. There could be personal animosity towards the accused, or the witness want to deflect blame from themselves. A criminal defense strategy could uncover conflicting statements or compelling evidence that a witness made false statements, a crime in itself.
Equally highly problematic would be police misconduct. Law enforcement officials might guide, sway, or even coerce witnesses to make false statements. Such behavior would be illegal and violate the defendant’s constitutional rights. Unfortunately, the desire to close a case could lead officials to take the wrong path. Hopefully, the truth will come out in court.