One of the biggest issues with the criminal justice system is that it’s dangerous to trust witnesses. They may think they know what happened, they may believe they know what they saw, and they may offer a testimony to the jury that is incredibly compelling. However, they may also be very, very wrong.
Studies have found that eyewitnesses are hardly reliable. For instance, some reports claim that around 350 people have been cleared of serious convictions thanks to the rise of DNA evidence. Some of them had been behind bars for years. Many were serving long-term sentences. They had all been convicted in court, but DNA proved their innocence when technology caught up or when new evidence came to light.
That’s frightening enough on its own, thinking about how the court can get things so very wrong and lock people away, perhaps for life. What makes it worse, though, is that most of the cases involved misidentification by at least one eyewitness. In some cases, more than one eyewitness misidentified the person involved. Overall, reports said this happened in about 70% of the roughly 350 overturned cases.
The justice system is supposed to err on the side of letting innocent people go free, avoiding false convictions even if that means some guilty individuals also avoid conviction. It’s clear from these reports and the DNA evidence, however, that many people do not actually enjoy this type of justice. Witnesses make mistakes and put them behind bars.
No matter what type of charges you’re facing, it is very important to understand all of your legal defense options.