If you are a suspect in a Garda investigation, identification of you by witnesses or the victim may be an important aspect of the prosecution case against you. There are a number of different methods by which identification may be made.
Fingerprint evidence may be used as evidence against you at your trial and it is not necessary for a police officer to caution you when you have voluntarily agreed to have your fingerprints taken.
A Garda who has received a description of a suspect may show photographs to a potential witness. However, the Garda must place the photograph amongst a series of at least 12 photographs and not just one or two.
If that witness later identifies you in an identification parade, the trial judge must point out to the jury that the witness's evidence may be coloured by the fact that he or she has already seen a photograph of you.
Evidence obtained as a result of an informal identification may be used at the trial (for example, where a witness points you out on the street) and it is not absolutely necessary that a formal identification parade be held to identify you. However, in some particular cases, a judge may decide that a formal identification parade should have been held.
The trial judge will warn the jury that it is dangerous to convict on visual identification evidence alone and will point out the difference in credibility between informal and formal identification procedures.
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.