Getting a fair outcome

What Is an Identification Parade, and When Should You Hesitate to Participate?

An identification parade is a line of people who look alike, one of whom is a suspect in a crime. The victim looks at the parade to pick out the person they think is the suspect. These identification parades have been very helpful and are recognised as essential in many court cases. If you are asked to participate in an identification parade, either because you're a suspect or because the police think you look similar enough that they want you to be one of the others in the room, you don't have to say yes. These parades are voluntary, even if you're a suspect. However, you can participate if you want; take certain precautions first, like speaking with your lawyer.

If You're a Suspect

The identification parade could be your ticket to freedom or your downfall. If you did commit the crime, the victim will most likely pick you out of the line of people, the result of the parade will be admissible in court, and you could face conviction and sentencing. If you're not guilty but have reason to suspect the parade wouldn't go in your favor (e.g., the actual suspect looks a lot like you and you're worried that the victim would point to you), you can refuse, and you can ask to speak to your lawyer.

On the other hand, if you are not guilty and know that the victim will realise you're not the suspect when they see the line of people, still, speak with a lawyer before participating. You want to be sure you have an actual good chance of not being identified and are not just being overconfident.

If You're Not a Suspect

If you're not the suspect and have been asked if you'd be willing to participate in an identification parade as one of the similar characters, you can if you want. Is there a risk that the victim will point to you instead of the suspect? Yes, there always is, even though that's not that common (and police should be aware that this can happen so that you're not grabbed and thrown in jail automatically). Still, you might want to have proof of where you were at the time of the crime, just in case.

What to Do if You Want to Participate

A brief talk with your criminal lawyer is always advisable before participating in an identification parade. You want to be sure you're not ruining your chances of acquittal, and at the same time, you want to be sure you're not making yourself look guilty by refusing.

About Me

Getting a fair outcome

When my friends make lawyer jokes, I just shake my head. Lawyers help our clients to get fair and equitable outcomes in and out of court and there is nothing more Australian than a fair go. With large and small clients coming in with new problems each day, I never quite know what the new day will bring, but that's the great thing about being a lawyer. Legal practise is always changing, always challenging and always rewarding. The one thing that stays the same no matter what the case details is that our focus is on getting the best outcome for our client.