Boston Criminal Defense Attorney Describes Basic Identification Procedures
Are the criminal charges against you based, even in part, on a witness having identified you as the person who committed the crime? If so, an experienced Boston criminal defense attorney will review the identification procedure used by the police and, if possible, challenge the identification on constitutional grounds.
Constitutional restrictions on identification procedures
Pre-trial identification procedures must conform to constitutional requirements. Under the Due Process Clause, identification procedures may not be unduly suggestive. In addition, the Sixth Amendment provides that a defendant has the right to have his lawyer present during any in-person identification procedures, once adversary proceedings have begun.
Commonly used identification procedures
The photo array
Police officers commonly use two different kinds of photo displays for identification purposes. In the first, the police will have the witness look through a book or books of arrest photographs (“mug shots”). In the second, they use a format similar to line-up, in which several similar-looking photos are arranged in front of the witness.
In this identification procedure, five or six individuals are asked to sit or stand next to each other while the witness tries to identify the suspect from behind a one-way mirror.
The show-up is considered the most suggestive identification procedure, and typically is used when the police have made an arrest, usually fairly soon after the crime, and are trying to decide whether to continue to hold the suspect. This procedure works like a line-up, except that only one suspect is presented to the witness for identification purposes.
If there is a question about the reliability of the witness identification procedures used in your case, contact our experienced Boston criminal defense attorneys today. You can reach us by calling 617-492-0055 or by submitting our online contact form.
- Secretary Betsy DeVos: Slowly Remaking Title IX Investigations - August 2, 2018
- The Shooting of Kathryn Steinle - January 2, 2018
- Massachusetts House Passes Major Criminal Justice Bill - December 7, 2017