Wade Hearing Law & Legal Definition

Wade hearing refers to a pretrial hearing process applied in criminal laws. This principle is used by a principle to question the validity of an identification process in which s/he was identified as a culprit. This principle is used to determine if the identification of a defendant is tainted. This principle of wade hearing was developed by the U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Wade, 388 U.S. 218 (U.S. 1967), where the court discussed the admissibility of expert testimony concerning factors affecting the reliability of eyewitness identification. In this case the court observed that:

1. putting defendants in a lineup and having them wear certain items and utter words used in the crime is not compelled self incrimination because it is not testimonial evidence; and

2. lineups are a “critical stage” of the prosecution and defendants are entitled to have counsel present.

In this case, the court suggested that the pretrial confrontation might not be a "critical stage" if other methods were developed to assure against the risk of irreparable mistaken identification.