Securing a New Jersey criminal conviction typically involves presenting compelling evidence at the trial to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In many cases, eyewitness testimony could be enough to sway a jury. However, eyewitness testimony is not always credible, and some defendants may counter the troubled testimony effectively.
Eyewitness evidence problems
Eyewitness testimony may reflect what the witness believes they saw, but the account could be entirely inaccurate. A person could claim the defendant is the person they saw near a crime scene, but they might have seen someone wearing the same clothes and physical build. However, the person they identified is not the individual who committed the crime.
Other factors could lead to problematic eyewitness testimony. The witness might be too far away to make a proper visual identification, or the area was too dark to see anything clearly. The witnesses’ eyesight may be too poor to make a positive identification. Still, a prosecutor could move forward, hoping to get a conviction.
Under criminal law, the bar for a guilty verdict is beyond a reasonable doubt. When the eyewitness loses their credibility, or there are inconsistencies or other problems with their testimony, reasonable doubts might exist. Sometimes, an eyewitness may outright lie, and the holes in their testimony might become evident at trial.
The police could coerce someone to make false statements. Such false testimony would violate the defendant’s rights, and those who orchestrated it may face legal troubles. Eyewitnesses who lie might also be charged with criminal offenses for their statements.
Convictions based on false testimony may happen. However, the convicted defendant could file an appeal. The conviction could be overturned if the appeal reveals problems with the evidence and eyewitness testimony.