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Can eyewitness testimony be challenged?

The wide use of dramatic scenes involving eyewitnesses in crime dramas on the big screen, on television and on streaming programs justifiably leads a good number of people to believe that this type of testimony is vital, perhaps even incontrovertible. The reality is that in criminal proceedings in Virginia and across the country, eyewitness testimony most definitely can be challenged.

Reliability of eyewitnesses

A common misconception associated with criminal defense and other aspects of the justice system is that eyewitness accounts are highly reliable. A common question running through a person’s mind is “how could an eyewitness not have an accurate description of what occurred in front of them?” The stark reality is that eyewitness testimony is not the most reliable of evidence. Simply put, people do not always accurately take in what has occurred in front of them for a myriad of reasons.

Challenging eyewitness testimony

Based to a large measure on the unreliability of eyewitness testimony on many occasions, this type of evidence absolutely can be challenged during criminal proceedings. In fact, in many criminal trials, challenges to testimony presented by eyewitnesses is a major part of those proceedings.

Criminal defense attorneys typically utilize the opportunity to cross examine to challenge the accuracy, credibility and reliability of an eyewitness. The same holds true for the prosecuting attorney faced cross examining a witness for the defense.

If you face criminal charges in Virginia, including ones arising out of allegations from an eyewitness, you place yourself in the best position to protect your legal rights by retaining the services of a skilled, experience and tenacious defense lawyer. You can begin to ascertain how to mount the most viable defense by scheduling an initial consultation with one.