In the minds of most laypersons, the most devastating thing that can occur to a defendant in a criminal trial, who has pled not guilty, is to have an eyewitness state that she or he was indeed the perpetrator of the crime. Lay people think of eyewitness identification as highly accurate and reliable. Studies of juries have shown that it is the single most important factor responsible for convicting a defendant. However, as you shall see in this chapter, eyewitness errors are the cause, in many cases of wrongful convictions. In many recent cases, in which convicted defendants were later exonerated on the basis of DNA evidence, it was found that one or more eyewitnesses falsely identified the innocent person. Experimental psychology has demonstrated for many years that eyewitness identification is not as accurate as lay people would believe because of the witnesses’ problems in retrieving accurate memory of events.
KeywordsCrime Scene Emotional Memory Criminal Trial Trauma Memory Eyewitness Identification
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