If an eyewitness account played a significant role in you facing criminal charges, it is important to remember you still have a chance to contest their account – usually, in court.
People often assume that if someone is willing to swear in front of a judge that they saw you doing something, then they must be telling the truth. However, this is not always the case. Even if it were, it is sometimes possible to make the court or the eyewitness themself doubt the veracity of their story. Consider this:
Some people lie on purpose
An eyewitness might take the stand to testify against you to protect themselves or others. Or, they might lie to get back at you for something you did earlier. For example, you helped the authorities to prosecute one of their family, or they believe you sold drugs on their patch.
Many are simply mistaken
While we are all unique individuals, there are plenty of others who look like us, some remarkably so. You need to look at how clearly they saw you. Consider if there was good lighting or if it was dark or shadowy. Consider how close they were and how long they believe they saw you for. Seeing someone up close in broad daylight for 10 minutes is very different from catching a glimpse of someone on an unlit street at night for a second.
On top of that, memory is not as accurate as people think. Our memories are malleable and we can end up believing something we did not.
Challenging an eyewitness account will be challenging but it might be crucial to defending against criminal charges. Getting legal help increases your chance of success.