Identifications and the Right to Counsel
In this chapter we begin our three-chapter unit on identification evidence, which generally consists of witness statements about who committed a crime. A victim or other witness can identify a perpetrator in court (saying, in front of the jury, something like, “That’s the one who did it”), and police often ask witnesses to identify suspects out of court. Out-of-court identification procedures include lineups—at which several similar-looking persons are presented to a witness in the hope that the witness will identify the correct person—as well as less elaborate presentations which are essentially lineups with only one suspect, about whom the witness says “yes” or “no.” Further, police can show photos to witnesses, a process much quicker than in-person identification.
This chapter concerns when a suspect has the right to have counsel present during an identification procedure.