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What is inattentional blindness?

On Behalf of | Oct 23, 2022 | Criminal Defense

If you are facing prosecution due to eyewitness evidence, one thing to know about is inattentional blindness.

Understanding it could throw enough doubt on an eyewitness version of events for a court to lack the certainty it needs to convict you.

It means not seeing what is in front of you

Look straight ahead. What can you see? Unless you are in an empty white room, the chances are there are hundreds of things in your field of vision. Now close your eyes. Could you list every last thing you saw?

You might think you can. For example, you are in your kitchen and saw the dishwasher, cup, coffee pot and dirty dishes. Did you notice that tiny black speck on the handle of the scrubbing brush? What about the bottle of washing-up liquid? If so, could you tell with accuracy how full the bottle is? Did you actually look at the bottle?  Or are you just saying it was there because you know it always is? 

It is impossible to take in everything in our field of vision. It’s too much. Hence our brains focus on what they consider important and ignore what they think is not. 

Let’s say the eyewitness did see you, and they thought you looked shifty, so that is what their brain focused on. What about the true guilty party who snuck past you in the background? If the witness was intently focused on you, they might have missed them altogether.

Eyewitnesses may feel certain it was you, but that does not mean they are correct. Getting legal help to explain why could help you avoid prosecution.