Many North Carolina criminal cases are made when an eyewitness comes forward to claim they saw the entire crime. While this is perceived by most of the public as direct proof of guilt, scientists also study how reliable eyewitness testimony can be and if the mind can be manipulated by other factors without the witness knowing it. If you are facing accusations of committing a crime, this becomes relevant to your case.

According to the Association for Psychological Science, eyewitness testimony can often be unreliable. Many believe that the mind functions as a video camera and records events exactly as they happened and as they were seen. Science suggests that memory can evolve, and biases are introduced to minimize or overlook some experiences while exaggerating others, as memory is malleable and likely to change.

Instead of functioning as a video camera, the memory will record certain stories based on individual experiences. Sometimes those stories are completely fictional or uncannily accurate and most times they are a mix of the two. Eyewitness testimony is subject to memory biases or distortions that are not even noticeable to the witness. This means that memory can be highly accurate or highly inaccurate, which is why it is so important to have scientific or objective evidence to back up any claims made by an eyewitness.

The past shows that the only thing more convincing than eyewitness testimony is a signed confession by the person committed of the crime, but the memory guides choices by giving a certain sense of identity. Although eyewitnesses can often be convincing, this does not mean that they are always accurate, and many people are exonerated every day because new scientific evidence is tested that provides the testimony false.

This is for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as legal advice.