There are multiple ways for a prosecutor in Connecticut to build a case against someone accused of a criminal offense. For decades, prosecutors and law enforcement professionals alike have treated eyewitness testimony as the gold standard for state evidence.
If police locate someone who witnessed an alleged criminal offense, that person’s word might be the only evidence they have to assist in the prosecution of a suspect. If you are the suspect in the case and the state claims to have an eyewitness who can place you at the scene of the crime or identify you from a lineup, you might feel as though you will have no chance to defend yourself.
However, research has shown that eyewitness testimony is far from as reliable as prosecutors wish that it was.
Prosecutors and police can influence what a witness remembers
Practicing what someone will say during court proceedings can be a way to help someone overcome their nerves and make sure that they touch on all the most important details. Unfortunately, that kind of practice can also result in coaching, where prosecutors or law enforcement alter the perspective of the witness by making repeated suggestions.
Identifying you in a lineup isn’t that conclusive either
In theory, someone who witnesses a crime should be able to visually identify the person that they believe committed the criminal act. Having a suspect stand in a lineup with multiple other people provides a sort of test that seems to validate the accuracy of a witness’ identification.
Even if someone picked you out of the lineup, that doesn’t necessarily mean they saw you at the scene of a crime. They may not have recognized anyone in the lineup and instead followed nonverbal cues or hints from the officers performing the lineup.
Knowing that there’s an eyewitness willing to testify against you can seem frightening, but it does not eliminate your right to defend yourself against criminal allegations. Reviewing statements made by the witness, other forms of evidence and even the historical performance of the police department and prosecutor could help you develop a strategy that shows the witness isn’t as reliable as the state would like the jury to believe.