Eyewitness testimony is a type of information used in both criminal and civil cases that many people would like to think is accurate, but the truth is that it can be the most unreliable evidence used in any trial. There are several reasons for this situation, including the amount of time it takes to actually get a case into court for a trial in North Carolina.
One of the first issues with eyewitness testimony is fading memories of what actually happened, and this can be compounded when there are multiple eyewitnesses from opposing sides. In fact, competing eyewitness testimony can be a very effective criminal defense in some cases. The application basically depends on fervent memory of what actually occurred, and the time it takes to get a case to court for cross-examination can contribute to the accuracy of mental recall.
Personal agenda and perjury
Eyewitnesses who have no connection to a case other than viewing it happen often have no personal reason to perjure themselves on the stand. However, there are many instances where an eyewitness not only observed what occurred but had prior knowledge of issues leading up to the event. Some witnesses in prosecution would like to see a defendant suffer based on personal disposition, which can contribute to the argument presented by a criminal defendant or a civil respondent. This can apply in auto accident cases just as in a criminal trial.
The best component of defending against eyewitness testimony is often the ability to question the witness on the stand. While some testimony can be particularly damaging in a preponderance proof situation, there can be weaknesses in testimony when evaluated at the reasonable doubt burden of proof standard. Any inconsistency in eyewitness testimony might result in case dismissal in a criminal case.