You may have been charged with a violent crime and there are eyewitnesses coming forward against you and willing to testify in court. As a result, you feel there’s nothing you can do but accept the charges and pay fines or go to jail for your actions.
You shouldn’t back away from defending your case. Eyewitness testimony, although it’s used frequently, isn’t always reliable. There are many causes for eyewitnesses to absorb false information – much of it having to do with how human brains work. Here’s what you should know:
Eyewitness memory is flexible
People’s memories don’t work exactly how they think it does. Often people believe memories work like snapshots or video recordings, but it’s much less likely.
“Memory is malleable” – in other words, it can alter based on someone’s experiences, biases or suggestions. Memory is especially susceptible to altering from unconscious memories. Because of this, eyewitness stories may be just a work of fiction – and may include details unrelated or added later.
Memories hide traumatic events
Do you recall the last time you were in a traumatic event? Probably not well – and that’s because the mind has a great countermeasure when people are traumatized. It protects itself by hiding memories. People who are near violent or dangerous events without a doubt experience some kind of trauma themselves. This stress response can make an eyewitness unreliable.
If you’re being charged with a violent crime and there are eyewitnesses claiming actions against you, then you may need to reach out for legal help when building a defense.