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1 serious concern about older eyewitnesses in a criminal case

On Behalf of | Feb 2, 2022 | Criminal Defense

The state needs evidence if they expect to successfully prosecute someone for a criminal offense. Sometimes, there is security camera footage that connects a person to a crime. Other times, there might need physical evidence, such as fingerprints or DNA left behind.

In some cases, the police will find a witness who is able to explain what happened or identify the suspect. Despite the amount of faith that the average person places in eyewitness testimony, it is generally a somewhat unreliable form of evidence. Human memory is easily manipulated and altered. Many successful criminal defenses or appeals have challenged the inaccurate claims made by eyewitnesses.

If the only eyewitness for a criminal case is someone over the age of 65, there is a serious issue that could affect the usefulness and accuracy of their testimony.

Age reduces how well people see

Although it is hard for some people to admit it, age often comes with a drop in visual acuity. Even those who have excellent vision during their youth and early professional life may require corrective lenses after the age of 50. Their vision will continue to decline as they continue to age.

That alone can cause problems, as an individual may not have had a clear view of the crime or the person involved. In fact, they may not be able to clearly see the person that they identify as the alleged criminal.

Even if an adult wears glasses, there could be issues with their vision. The cost of replacing corrective lenses may mean that older adults are wearing glasses that no longer fully correct their vision. Some older adults will refuse to wear glasses despite needing them due to personal vanity. Whether someone wears glasses or not, if they are older, their vision may impact their ability to serve as a reliable eyewitness for a criminal case. 

Building a defense requires a careful analysis of evidence

If the state has brought criminal charges against you, your chances of defending yourself are best when you prepare ahead of time. Knowing the evidence against you and how it might affect court proceedings can help you decide the best strategy to defend yourself.

Raising questions about the accuracy of an eyewitness’s identification of a suspect could be enough to create a reasonable doubt about your involvement in the crime. Planning a successful criminal defense strategy will require an understanding of successful prior strategies and the science that affects the accuracy of different kinds of evidence.

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