Area of Law – Evidence

An Article about ID parade in criminal case

ID (identification) parade in a criminal case
An identification parade is a process of getting a number of people in line and seeing if a witness can identify a potential accused from amongst them. It can be powerful evidence both for and against an accused.

We are often rung by our clients about whether they should agree to be in an ID parade. We are also often rung by the Police if a client says that they do want to participate in an id parade.

Our experience is that when our clients consent, the Police generally do not organize them anyway. Part of the reason is that they often find it difficult to convince a group of similar looking people, to go and stand around in a Police Station.

It would often be our advice to consent to an id parade. There is no fixed rule either way for a potential accused.

But make sure you talk to us first, as each situation has to be looked at and dealt with on an individual basis.

Some case law on identification parades is:

Evidence of refusal to participate in an identification parade
The judge gave detailed reasons for his ruling to allow the Crown to adduce evidence of the applicant’s refusal to participate in an identification parade. They included reference to the decision of the Court of Criminal Appeal in R. v. Clune; the decision of the Canadian Supreme Court in Marcoux and Solomon v. The Queen; and the decision of the New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal in McCarthy and Ryan v. R. Based upon those authorities, his Honour concluded that it is usually a proper exercise of judicial discretion to allow such evidence to be adduced – not as indicating guilt but as explaining why the Crown did not use an identification parade – and that, because the practice of holding identification parades is now well known within the community, the Crown should ordinarily be permitted to adduce evidence of refusal to participate without waiting until the accused raises some issue about such a parade. His Honour also considered that where such evidence is allowed to be given, the judge should give a direction as soon as the evidence is given, and if necessary again in the summing up, to make it clear to the jury that the accused had a fundamental right to decline to participate in an identification parade and that his exercise of that right must not lead to any conclusion by the jury that he is guilty. Consistent with the ruling, his Honour gave just such directions both at the time of the tender of the evidence and in the course of the charge.

R v Davies [2005] VSCA

Evidence as to the compilation of the video identification parade
This is admissible because it may be that the technique of the standard form of identification parade is now so well known that a jury needs little if any additional information in order to assess the results of an identification parade in a particular case. General knowledge of the technique, coupled with appropriate directions as to any shortcomings, may be all that is required. But, that is not the case with video identification parades. Without explanation, and therefore evidence as to what a video identification parade entails, there would be few members of a jury with a complete if any understanding of the process.


Date: 01/09/2009