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What happens if evidence in a criminal case is misinterpreted?

On Behalf of | Apr 9, 2024 | Criminal Defense

The outcome of a criminal case often depends on the evidence presented by both sides, so it’s critical that all evidence is based on fact. Yet, there are certain types of evidence that is subject to interpretation. If evidence is ever misinterpreted, it can have a major impact on the case in question. This might negatively affect a defendant because of a heightened risk of a wrongful conviction.

Evaluating evidence, including any that’s subjected to interpretation, is part of building a defense strategy. Understanding the ins and outs of this type of situation can help defendants as they work on their defense.

Various types of evidence can be misinterpreted

One serious consequence of misinterpreting evidence is that innocent individuals can be convicted of a crime. Certain types of evidence, including digital data, witness statements and forensic evidence have a higher probability of being incorrectly interpreted. For example, a jury may misunderstand the meaning behind a witness’ testimony, which could affect their verdict for the case.

Complex witness testimony misinterpretation

Relying on expert witnesses to interpret complex evidence introduces another layer of potential misinterpretation. Experts are not infallible. Their biases, errors in methodology or simple human error can lead to misleading testimony. When courts heavily rely on these experts, the risk of misinterpretation escalates. Ensuring the credibility and reliability of expert testimony is crucial to prevent such misinterpretations.

Misinterpretation can be hard to correct

Misinterpretation of evidence affects the trial phase and can complicate the appeal process. Once evidence is misunderstood or misrepresented in court, correcting this error on appeal can be a monumental task. Appeals courts often defer to the trial court’s findings, particularly regarding the interpretation of evidence. As a result, an initial misinterpretation can be challenging to overturn on an appeal, but it’s sometimes possible if the circumstances are right.

Because evidence in criminal cases is so complex, defendants should ensure they have a legal representative who can evaluate evidence and assist with building a defense strategy. This should include addressing anything that might introduce reasonable doubt into the prosecution’s claims.