Administration of Justice 104:  Unit 9
Identification Procedures & Preparing the Case for Court

Unit Objectives: At the completion of this unit the student will:
  • Define and differentiate between lineup, show-up, and photographic lineup.

  • Explain Fourth Amendment rights applicable to identification procedures.

  • Explain Fifth Amendment rights applicable to identification procedures.

  • Explain Sixth Amendment rights applicable to identification procedures.

  • Explain the due process guarantees that apply to identification procedures.

  • Describe how the prosecutor evaluates a case when deciding if it should be filed.

  • List what precautions must be taken to insure that physical evidence will be admissible in court.

  • Explain the process for subpoenaing witnesses.

  • Identify the proper dress and demeanor of a peace officer in court.

  • Describe what contacts an officer should have with lawyers, witnesses, and jurors.

  • Explain how an officer should deal with the media.

Unit Overview:

Chapter Fifteen Summary

The police frequently use three procedures to help by witnesses identify criminals: lineups, show-up, and photographic lineups. Lineups involve showing the witness a group of possible suspects. Photographic lineups provide a selection of pictures of possible suspects for the witness to choose from. Showups are done by showing one suspect to the witness. 

The Fourth Amendment prohibits stopping people without cause unless they consent. To detain someone for a show up in the field there must be at least a reasonable suspicion that this person committed a crime. Suspects may only be transported to a police station for identification purposes and there is probable cause to arrest them. 

The Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination does not apply to identification procedures. The suspect may not refuse to participate in a lineup for show-up. He or she can be required to speak, stand in a particular pose, and wear appropriate clothing. 

Suspects can invoke the Sixth Amendment right to counsel during lineups and showups held after they have been arraigned or indicted. They have the right to have an attorney present, but the attorney only participates as an observer.

Due process requires identification procedures to be fundamentally fair. Anything the police do that suggest which person in the lineup or photographic lineup is the suspect violates due process. There should be enough people who are similar in appearance in the lineup to force the witness to demonstrate his or her memory and ability to observe. The police must not attempt to focus the viewer’s attention on any one individual or coach the witness; no one should be allowed to do so, not even other victims and witnesses from the same crime.

Showups are judged on the totality of the circumstances. Identifications are usually admissible if the witness had a good opportunity to observe the crime and could give a good description of the suspect. There does not have to be an emergency to justify the failure to conduct a full lineup.

Introduction of testimony a trial regarding identification procedures that violate the right to counsel is grounds for automatic reversal of the conviction. Other mistakes are judged by the Harmless Error Rule. The Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment gives the defense the right to cross-examine witnesses who testify about lineups, Showups, and photographic lineups.

Chapter fifteen key terms

Due process, lineup, photograph lineup, lineup, Showup

Chapter Sixteen Summary 

Officers must carefully review the facts of the case prior to presenting it to the prosecutor for filing. They must be sure that there is evidence to establish probable cause for each element of the crime. The same is true when preparing for the trial-prosecutor must consider the best way to use the available evidence to establish and every element of the offenses beyond a reasonable doubt. Witnesses must be available to establish the chain of custody for each item of physical evidence. The evidentiary value of each item must be analyzed at the considering all available information including the results of any laboratory tests that were performed.

All physical evidence must be reviewed and the chain of custody must be established for each item. Evidentiary value must also be determined after reviewing all relevant information including the results of forensic laboratory test that were conducted. Information must be maintained on potential witnesses. It is important to know “what the witness is competent to testify about and where the witness can be located. It may also be necessary to interview the witness a guy in to test his or her memory if there has been a long delay between occurrences of the crime and the trial.

Officers must be neat and well groomed in court. Good grammar and vocabulary are important. Testimony must be in line which the jurors can understand and not laced with police jargon. Overt hostility toward the defendant is unprofessional and may cause the jurors to become protective of the defendant. Once a case has been filed there should be no direct communication between the police and the defense attorney or the defendant unless the prosecution has authorized it. Requests for discovery and other information must be channeled through the prosecutor.

Victims and witnesses should be afforded every professional courtesy. Subpoenaing them for court hearings should be restricted as much as possible in order to avoid causing an inconvenience. They should be kept informed of the progress of the case in the role in all court proceedings.

Officers must be cautious to avoid contact with jurors. While jurors must be treated courteously, they should not be given any opportunity to hear out-of-court conversations related to the case. Any requests they have for additional information must be given to the judge-direct communications with the police are prohibited during trial.

The First Amendment gives the media the right to cover criminal trials, but the Sixth Amendment gives the defendant the right to an impartial jury. Prejudicial pretrial publicity must be avoided. Accurate descriptions of the crimes may be released to the media, but sensationalism may cause a mistrial. Any evidence that has a high potential for suppression because of the methods used to obtain it (Miranda violations, search and seizure problems, etc.) should not be disclosed. Any information to be released to the media should be funneled through press relations officers who are trained to deal with these situations.

Reading Assignment:

Criminal Evidence  Chapters 15 , Identification Procedures & 16 Preparing the Case for Court.

Web Assignment:

No web assignment

Writing Assignment
Post responses to the class instructor to the following questions:
  1. Define lineup, and explain the constitutional rights that apply.
  2. Define a showup, and explain each applicable constitutional right.
  3. Define photographic lineup, and explain what constitutional rights apply.
  4. Assume that a person viewed an improperly conducted lineup. Will that person be allowed to testify? To make an in-court identification of the suspect? Explain.
  5. Describe how an officer should evaluate the facts in a case prior to taking it to the prosecutor for filing.
  6. What facts are necessary to establish the chain of custody for physical evidence? Explain.
  7. Explain what can be done to help the witness prepare for trial.
  8. Should the media have access to everything in the police department’s files about the investigation of a crime? Explain.



Last Revision: August 2001
Copyright 1997 © DB, Rio Hondo College.
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