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Eyewitness Identification: Constitutional Aspects

Search And Seizure, Self-incrimination, Due Process, Rights To Counsel And Confrontation, Process For Determining Admissibility

The classic eyewitness identification takes place in court, with the witness pointing to the defendant and stating "That's the perpetrator." Such identifications are usually preceded by outof-court identifications, using one of three procedures: (1) lineups, in which a witness is asked to pick a suspect out of a line of people; (2) showups, in which a witness is shown just one suspect and asked whether that suspect was involved in the incident at issue; or (3) photo arrays, in which a witness is asked to pick a suspect's photo out of an array of photos. Constitutional challenges to those procedures have focused on four provisions: the Fourth Amendment's prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures; the Fifth Amendment's prohibition of compelled self-incriminating testimony; the injunction in both the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments that government not deprive persons of life or liberty without due process of law; and the Sixth Amendment's guarantee of assistance of counsel and the right to confront witnesses. Each of these challenges are discussed below. Also discussed are two other issues: the process for determining whether an identification procedure was unconstitutional and the admissibility of identifications that are the "fruit" of a constitutional violation.


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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationCrime and Criminal Law