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James N. Papirmeister, P.C.

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Eyewitness testimony can be the heart of a criminal case

When a Maryland resident is facing criminal allegations, it can be quite disheartening. However, defendants should take some solace in the fact that the threshold that the prosecution must meet to prove the case is as high as it gets in law: "beyond a reasonable doubt."

With such a high threshold to meet, most prosecutors will leave no stone unturned when it comes to collecting evidence for a criminal case, particularly if the case is going to trial. The evidence in a criminal case could consist of physical items, financial records or surveillance videos, but, in most cases, the heart of the case is eyewitness testimony.

Most of our readers are familiar with what happens when a witness gives testimony at a criminal trial because we have all seen these scenarios depicted in television shows and movies. And, while these depictions are rarely 100 percent accurate, they can give a good idea of the procedure involved. First, the witness is called to the witness stand, and then they are sworn under oath to testify truthfully.

While the baseline belief is that a witness will indeed tell the truth when testifying, that doesn't mean that the testimony isn't biased or clouded by memory lapses. In most cases, the prosecutor will try to "stick to the facts" and lay out the alleged sequence of events. However, when the criminal defense gets a chance to cross-examine a witness, any alleged biases can be exposed to the jury. In this manner, a criminal defendant can point out the deficiencies in the witness's testimony.

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