Eyewitnesses can play a crucial role in helping a court to prosecute someone for a crime. Yet they also get it wrong from time to time.
That can have some serious consequences for the person wrongly convicted. People have been executed because of it or spent years in prison. Some are still there today.
If you are not a United States citizen, it could have massive consequences even if the crime is not something serious enough to warrant such a severe sentence.
It could see you thrown out of the country
Each year, prosecutors ask courts to deport people convicted of certain crimes or a series of crimes. In effect, they are saying they don’t believe the U.S. benefits by allowing this person to stay, and what’s more, it could suffer if they do.
That would be a harsh judgment to make about you, especially if you did not commit the crime in the first place. In some cases, deporting you could turn out to be a death sentence, as returning to your home country might mean certain death.
Hence challenging an eyewitness is crucial.
Here are some ways your legal team might do that:
- Question the eyewitness’ view of the event: Do they have good eyesight? Was the lighting clear? Did they just get a glimpse or watch you for a long time?
- Point out that memory is imperfect: Our memories can change. People can put ideas in our heads that make us think we remember seeing something we didn’t. Did anyone influence the eyewitness to believe they saw you?
Challenging an eyewitness might seem daunting, but it could be crucial when so much is at stake.