The Role of Eyewitness Testimony and the Weapon Effect in a Criminal Investigation

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Eyewitness testimony plays a crucial role in criminal investigations. Thus, it is important to know how to eliminate factors that can negatively impact eyewitnesses’ recall ability. The result of eyewitness misidentification can lead to numerous inaccurate and wrongful convictions. One study suggests that more than 75,000 people a year become criminal defendants on the basis of eyewitness identifications (Schechel, O'Toole, Easterly, & Loftus, 2006, p.178). Another study has shown that approximately 100 people who were convicted have been exonerated by forensic evidence. Moreover, 75% of these people were known to be victims of mistaken identification. The known DNA exoneration cases are just a fragment of the innocent people who have been convicted based on mistaken eyewitness identification evidence (Wells & Olson, 2003). Eyewitness testimonies are also valued unique factors they can bring to criminal investigations. Nevertheless, an eyewitness testimony can also raise several factors that threaten its credibility, especially for those who haven’t had prior training in assessing witness reliability. It has been suggested, for instance, that jurors only have their common sense as their guides when their witnesses have strenuous claims (Schechel et al., 2006, p.178). In the event that a crime scene does not contain relics of DNA or other forensic evidence, eyewitness identification plays a pivotal role in criminal investigation. Biometric evidence like DNA is rarely available for murders, robberies, drive-by shootings, and other common crimes, forcing reliance on eyewitness identification evidence. When biometric identification isn’t possible, we must solely depend on eyewitness testimony. Eyewitness testimony can help depict th... ... middle of paper ... ... from http://www.psychology.iastate.edu/~glwells/Wells_articles_pdf/Eyewitness_Testimony_Ann_Rev.pdf Wells, G. L., & Quinlivan, D. S. (2009, February). Suggestive eyewitness identification procedures and the supreme court’s reliability test in light of eyewitness science: 30 years later. Medline. Retrieved April 08, 2011, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18302010 Wells, G., Small, M., Penrod, S., Malpass, R. S., Fulero, S. M., & Brimacombe, C. (1998, November 6). Eyewitness identification procedures: Recommendations for lineups and photospreads. Law and Human Behavior. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/pss/1394446 Zaragoza, M. S., Belli, R. F., & Payment, K. E. (2009). Misinformation Effects and the Suggestibility of Eyewitness Memory. Zaragoza Publications. Retrieved April 08, 2011, from http://www.personal.kent.edu/~mzaragoz/publications.html

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