Can children provide reliable eyewitness testimony?.docx -...

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ASSESSMENT 1Griffith UniversityCourse: CCJ10 Assessment: Can children provide reliable eyewitness testimony?Required Words: 2000Actual Word Length: 1923Mark Value: 40%
2There has nationally and internationally been considerable interest among medical,psychological and legal fields in the status of children’s evidence and memory and whether itcan be applied and used in the criminal justice system. The capability for children to give aprecise account of past events has been thoroughly investigated, if they can be accurate andtrusted accounts. Although children can in fact be an informative witness, the standard of theevidence that could possibly be provided may be influenced by a number of factors such as age,culture, and developmental stages (Natali, Marucci, & Mastroberardino, 2012). This paper willaddress the issues with children not being creditable eyewitnesses and will focus on first howthe developing brain influences memory, second how false memory is created and finally whatdifficulties and how difficulties can jeopardise the reliability of an eyewitness. This paper willargue that children are in fact not capable of giving a reliable eyewitness testimony. Theevidence explored includes studies which have investigated the accuracy and consistency of achild’s memory. First it is important to define a child, young child, older child, adolescent and adult in terms oflegal responsibility in the eyes of Australian law. White considers “persons below the age ofeighteen are generally considered children”, however “the standard age for criminalresponsibility in all Australian jurisdictions is ten years of age” (White, 2007). Even though achild is legally seen as a person who is younger than 18 years, the law states that a child at 10years can be criminally responsible for their actions and found guilty of a crime. Eyewitnesstestimonies can be crucially important to a case, as they may deliver information about the case
3at hand. A witness is someone who has information or evidence which is their account of eventsthat took place, which may then be used in a case that is heard in court (Allsop, 25 October2017). However, an eyewitness is not always a reliable nor an accurate source of information asthis essay will explore. Certain aged children are not seen as competent in most Australian Jurisdictions to give swornevidence. If a child is under the age of 14, who is seen as a minor, the judge determines if thechild understands the nature of the oath before they can proceed. If it is understood that thechild can comprehend it, the child’s evidence is admitted in the same as an adult’s evidence isand the evidence must be documented. However, if the judge initially considers that the childdoes not understand the nature of the oath, the judge then will assess the child further todetermine if they are at all capable of understand their responsibility and proceed with thequestions, if not, the evidence then becomes excluded (Lavarch, 1995).

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