Investigative Police Lineup Amendments
A new law amending the procedures for investigative police lineups went into effect in Illinois this year. Mistaken identifications in police lineups are common contributors to wrongful convictions, and it is hoped that the recent amendments will significantly cut down on instances of prejudiced identifications.
Elements of a Lineup
In a typical police lineup, a suspect is placed among other people, acting as fillers, who are not suspected of committing the crime. The eyewitness is then asked to identify the offender. Live lineups most often use five or six people, while photo lineups are usually made up of six or more photos.
There are two types of lineups: simultaneous and sequential. In a simultaneous lineup, the eyewitness views all of the people or photos at the same time. In a sequential lineup, the people or photographs are presented to the witness one at a time.
Amendments to Lineup Procedures
The recent amendments to Illinois’s lineup laws introduce new requirements for lineups in the state. The new law requires that:
- Lineups be run by independent administrators when possible;
- If it is not possible for an independent administrator to perform the lineup, then officers must use a method in which they are unable to see which photos or individuals the witness is viewing until the actual lineup is over;
- Before a lineup is conducted, the eyewitness must be instructed that he or she should not assume that the lineup administrator knows which person is the suspect;
- The suspected perpetrator cannot be substantially different in appearance from the others in the lineup (the fillers), based on previous descriptions by the eyewitness of the perpetrator, or based on other factors;
- The lineup be videotaped when practical;
- The lineup administrator obtain and document any statements made by the eyewitness during the lineup as to the offender’s identity;
- In order to protect the identities of the eyewitness and the law enforcement officers used as fillers from being disclosed, the State’s Attorney must petition the court for a protective order upon disclosure of the photos or recordings to the counsel of the accused;
- Any electronic recording made during a lineup will be confidential and exempt from public inspection and copying; and
- Any recording must not be transmitted to any person except as necessary to comply with the lineup procedures.
Undergoing an investigatory lineup is an important part of any criminal case where eyewitness accounts are used. If you have been charged with a crime and are required to take part in a lineup, it is extremely important that you have an experienced criminal defense attorney present who can help protect you from prejudiced identifications. If you have been arrested or charged with a criminal offense, please contact the skilled Naperville criminal defense attorneys at our firm for a free consultation.