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Your Rights During 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

There are many ways in which the police in Massachusetts can get an identification of a suspect to link them to a crime. These methods consist of lineups, fingerprints, blood samples, voice prints, photographs, etc. Lets say you are called in for a line up or any of the other identification procedures just named. Do you have any rights during this process, and if so what are they? (Wanted picture taken by Deflam

wanted picture There are 4 plausible constitutional objections that you may be able to make to one of these procedures and to have them not used against you. I say may because nothing is certain and all these objections are dependent upon a judge. These 4 objections ( or if you like, rights that you have that can prevent some of these identification procedures being used against you) are 1) the privilege against self-incrimination

2) that it constitutes and unreasonable search and seizure in violation of the 4th amendment 3) that you do not have a lawyer present and the use of such a procedure violated your 6th amendment right to counsel 4) the procedure was so suggestive that it violated your rights to due process. Now I know there are a few legalise terms in these objections that one could spend hours on trying to explain in full detail. I will do my best to give you the short and easy to understand version of your rights in these situations.

The privilege against self-incrimination: Generally the use of physical indentifiaction procedures (fingerprints, blood samples, voice prints, etc.) will not violate or trigger your right against self-incrimination. According to cases contesting this issue, the courts have said that your 5th amendment right against self-incrimination ( the right not to testify, etc.) only applies to testimony or communicative evidence. Basically it only applies to anything that you vocally convey about the crime, your innocence, or your guilt.

It is important to note that your 5th amendment right against self-incrimination does not apply to line-ups where you are forced to say a word or phrase that the victim/witness supposedly heard the perpetrator. Also if you refuse to cooperate for any of these procedures, the court can order you to participate in them. The Privlege against self incrimination could be the most important right that is protected.  However, there are 3 other constitutional violations that are important when discussing ID procedures.  Those other 3 constiutional rights will be discussed in the next blog post.  


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