Legal Question in Criminal Law in New York

Can misinformed witnesses get you convicted of a crime?

Let's say I was riding my bike in a park and accidentally dropped my water bottle; a jogger runs by, and presumes that I intentionally littered. I stop to pick up and throw my bottle in the trash, but the jogger is already gone. He calls the police about someone littering in the park (unbeknownst to me yet). Later, I go to my friend's house and jokingly say that I littered in the park this morning. However, he takes this seriously and goes to the police. Two independent witnesses testify against me in the court of law, one with what he saw, and one with what he heard. In this situation, would there be any significant probability that I would be found guilty of littering?

The question isn't specifically about littering - insert a serious crime like assault for instance. Could misinformed witnesses actually convict you of a crime you didn't commit?

Asked on 9/02/12, 11:45 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Philip Katz Fink & Katz, PLLC

You cannot expect a good answer to a hypothetical that doesn't have anything to do with the hypothetical crime. The bottom line with respect to serious offenses is that if the police or DA's office hears from two convincing independent witnesses who both corroborate the same set of facts, you will likely be prosecuted, and whether you will be convicted or not will come down to the evidence, the strength of the witnesses' testimony at trial, the skill of the prosecutor, and the skill of your lawyer.

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Answered on 9/03/12, 7:42 am

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