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3 More constitutional rights for ID and Lineups

Contact Attorney Jason Chan

Attorney Jason Chan

267 North Beacon Street, Suite 3
Boston MA 01235


Phone: 781-343-1DUI (781-343-1384)
Fax: 617-226-7986

The right to counsel: If you have been formally charged or formal criminal proceedings have been commenced against you, then you have an absolute right to have your counsel present at any pre-trial confrontation procedure such as a line-up (where you are called with others for the witness to identify the one who committed the crime) and a show-up (where you are only called and the witness is asked to determine if you are the one who committed the crime, etc.). It is important to note that you do not have this right to counsel when the witness views a still photograph or video of you for identification purposes. However if you are just rounded up for a line-up, you do not have the right to have your counsel present at any of these procedures. (picture of mug shot taken by Jack Zalium

mug shotSuggestive procedures: You may be able to exclude any identification procedure against you for being unnecessarily suggestive as to be deeply unfair to you. What makes an identification procedure unduly suggestive? Lets say you are suspected of robbery and are lined up with other men several inches shorter than you. You are the only one wearing a jacket similar to one described that the robber used during the robbery. After the victim/witness is unable to positively identify anyone as the robber, the police then dismiss everyone but you.

The victim/witness is still unsure if it was you that they saw commit the robbery. So several days later the police put on a second line-up with new individuals except for you (you being the only repeater from the previous line-up). Accordingly the court would rule that using you twice in separate line-ups would be unduly suggestive for the witness/victim to identify you as the robber because the police made it almost certain that the witness would identify you as the robber. If the victim were to identify you in the second line-up as the robber, the court would have to throw that evidence out.

Unreasonable search and seizure: The only area where this seems to come up is when the police take a blood sample from you. However this area is rarely litigated and is therefore not worth going into great detail about. Needless to say it is very rare for this argument to be used effectively in any pretrial identification procedure.

Those are your rights that you have during any pretrial identification procedure that takes place. Should you find yourself in such a situation, it is important to know these rights. If you feel that the police have done something wrong to you during any of this identification procedure, it is important that you retain counsel or at least speak to an attorney to get their opinion on it. It is important to protect you rights and knowing them is the first step.


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