Why is eyewitness testimony important to an investigator?

Expert Answers
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are at least two reasons for which eyewitness testimony is important to investigators.  One has to do with the process of investigation while the other has to do with winning the case in court.

Eyewitness testimony can be important during the process of investigation.  It can be important because it can provide important information to the investigators.  A person who can describe a suspect can be important in allowing the police to know what sort of person to look for.  A person who can give a license plate number can also help in a similar way.  An eyewitness account can help investigators to understand why the crime scene looks as it does.  All of these things can help with the investigative process.

Once the case gets to court, eyewitnesses can be very important.  Even though eyewitness testimony is not necessarily reliable, juries tend to think that it is reliable.  They are likely to be much more convinced by the testimony of a good eyewitness than by more physical, but circumstantial, evidence.  Thus, having an eyewitness who comes across as credible and believable while on the stand is a very good way to improve one’s chances of getting a conviction.

For these reasons, eyewitness testimony can be very important.

mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are reasons why eyewitness testimony is important to a prosecutor. Eyewitness testimony often is very valuable to jurors—they tend to listen closely to this testimony and often feel it is very reliable. As a result, eyewitness testimony may impact a decision that a jury makes, and may assist a prosecutor in securing a conviction in the case.

Investigators need clues and information to figure out what happened when a crime occurred. Eyewitnesses may provide information that will be very helpful for a prosecutor. If a person can give a license plate number, a description of a vehicle or of a criminal, or describe what they saw happen in detail, it becomes easier for investigators to reconstruct what actually happened in a given situation. This information also may help the police apprehend a criminal. With this information, a prosecutor will be able to begin to put together a case against a person who has been accused of a crime.