What Is a Line-Up and Show Up?
In a perfect world, a law enforcement officer locates a reliable eye-witness to a crime and the eye-witness testifies at trial. Of course, we don't operate in a perfect world, but police officers still spend a good deal of time trying to locate witnesses when a crime has occurred. Once a potential witness is located, however, the witness must identify the perpetrator. To accomplish this, law enforcement officers frequently use a line-up or show-up.
A line-up can be conducted in person or by using a photo array. If done in person, a line-up involves presenting a series of people (typically six) who have similar physical characteristics to the suspect. The witness is hidden behind a two-way mirror so the individuals in the line-up cannot see the witness but the witness can see them. Among the group is the actual suspect. The witness is then asked to pick out the suspect from the line-up. When a photo array is used a law enforcement officer presents a set of photos (again, usually six) to the witness. The individuals in the photos should all have similar characteristics. The witness is then asked if the suspect is among the photos.
A show-up involves presenting just a single suspect to the witness to see if the witness can identify the suspect. This method is usually only used while in the field. For example, if a mugging just occurred and the police believe they caught the perpetrator close to the scene they might bring the witness to where the suspect was apprehended and ask the witness if the suspect is indeed the perpetrator.
Both line-ups and show ups are problematic when used as evidence in court. Both are extremely vulnerable to suggestion on the part of the law enforcement officer. An officer may communicate who the identity of the true suspect is to the witness during a line-up. Sometimes this is done on purpose while in other cases it is done without the officer even realizing he or she is doing it. Because witnesses tend to be nervous and confused anyway, even a subtle suggestion from a law enforcement officer can cause a witness to make an identification that is far from reliable. A show-up is even more susceptible to suggestion. In a show-up the officer is all but telling the witness that the individual in question is the perpetrator. All the witness needs to do is confirm that fact.
Witness identification is notoriously unreliable. If you are facing criminal charges and a line-up or show up was conducted during the investigation of your case, click here for a consultation with an experienced New York criminal defense attorney to discuss your defense.
You have rights and should use them. You are entitled to have an attorney present and represent you throughout the proceedings to even the playing field; however, you must exercise your right to counsel by telling the prosecutor or police officer that you do not want to answer any questions until you have an attorney with you. If you do not ask, they will not get one and they will keep questioning you until they get something. Protect all of your Constitutional rights.
Please check our representative case page and testimonials & referrals page to see specific information regarding past cases and what our clients and other attorneys have to say about our legal services. Please feel free to contact The Law Offices of Adam Thompson, P.C. for more information about our experience in any legal area anytime at 855-497-2326.
Arrested? Hurt in Accident?
Get Help 24/7
- Am I Allowed to Represent Myself in My New York DWI Case? Why Should I Hire an Attorney?
- Can I Do a Treatment Program in New York City?
- Can I Use Mouthwash to Avoid DWI in New York City?
- Can the Police Search Your Home Without a Warrant in New York?
- Do You Know Your Rights?
- Do You Need a Lawyer before You're Charged?
- DWI Stop -- How Do I Respond When Asked If I Have Been Drinking?
- Free Report: Who will be on the Jury for my Criminal Jury Trial in New York?
- Free Report: Are You Eligible for Drug Court in New York?
- Free Report: Constructive Possession in New York - What It Is and Why It Matters
- Holiday DWI Checkpoints in New York
- How Can I Get Evidence Thrown Out or Suppressed in New York?
- How Can You Defend Someone You Know Is Guilty?
- How Long Can I Go to Jail for Selling Drugs in New York?
- How Much Will a DWI Lawyer Cost in New York City?
- How Often Do Medical Errors Occur?
- If a Police Officer Asks You to Take a Field Sobriety Test What Should You Do?
- I Was Caught Smuggling Drugs – Will I Go to Federal Prison?
- I Was Notified of a Probation Violation Hearing in New York. Do I Need an Attorney?
- My Lawyer Told Me to Refuse the Chemical Test in New York, Is that Right?
- New York Construction Sites Accidents: Fatalities and Safety Violations [Infographic]
- Penalties for Alcohol and Drug-Related Driving Violations in New York [infographic]
- Should I Take a Breathalyzer Test in New York?
- Should I Talk to the Police or Prosecutor after I am Arrested in New York or New Jersey?
- The Crime of Rape in the State of New York
- Top Five Mistakes Defendants Make in a New York DWI Case
- Types of Medical Errors
- What Are Pre-Trial Hearings?
- What Are the Penalties for Possession or Sale of Marijuana in New York?
- What Are the Possible Defenses to a DWI Charge?
- What Are the Possible Defenses to New York Sex Crimes Charges?
- What Are the Possible Defenses to the Sale of Drugs in New York?
- What Are the Possible Penalties for Drug Possession in New York?
- What Are the Possible Penalties for DWI in New York?
- What Behavior and Patterns the Police Look for When Searching Out Intoxicated Drivers
- What If the Police Didn't Read Me My Rights before Arresting Me for DWI in New York?
- What Is a Line-Up and Show Up?
- What Is a Misdemeanor DWI in New York City?
- What Is an Arraignment In New York?
- What Is an Illegal Search in New York?
- What Is a Search and Seizure in New York?
- What Is a Sentence Enhancement in New York?
- What Is a Wrongful Death Case?
- What Is Boating While Intoxicated in New York?
- What Is Constructive Possession?
- What Is the HGN Test?
- What Is the Officer Looking For When the Officer Asks Me to Follow a Pen Light?
- What Is the Punishment for Possession of Cocaine in New York City?
- What Is the Punishment for Possession of Oxycodone in New York City?
- What Takes Place at a Criminal Trial?
- Who Will Be on the Jury for My Criminal Jury Trial in New York?
- Will I Be Drug Tested in Court in New York?