There is often a great disparity between what people think they saw and what really occurred. Emotions, nerves, biases and many other extenuating circumstances all play a profound role in dictating how we perceive sights, tastes, sounds, etc. This is not just a phenomenon that causes interesting dilemmas in everyday observations; as our criminal defense attorneys know, this issue often exposes itself in criminal trials, when the prosecution calls a witness who claims to have seen the crime or scenes relevant to the crime in question.
Often, what the witness claims to have seen did not actually take place, or what they claim to have heard was never actually said; frequently, video footage and audio recordings actually refute “eyewitness” testimony.
Does that mean that the mistaken witnesses are maliciously lying? Not necessarily, but it doesn’t have to. You see, there doesn’t have to be malice in order for a witness to be detrimental to the justice system.
Whenever there is reason to question the validity of testimony by a prosecution’s witness in a criminal trial, there is an advantage for the legal defense team. Remember, in our justice system, the defendant does not need to prove his or her innocence – the prosecution needs to prove guilt, and when one of their called witnesses is deemed unreliable, their case may be judged faulty, too.