Voice Identification


• Indiana has recognized the validity of voice identifications.

Matthews v. State, 518 N.E.2d 807, 808 (Ind. 1988)(citing Barnes v. State, 266 N.E.2d 617, 618 (Ind. 1971), reh’g denied)

Chambers v. State, 422 N.E.2d 1198, 1201 (Ind. 1981)(citing Barnes v. State, 266 N.E.2d 617, 618 (Ind. 1971), reh’g denied))

See Harris v. State, 373 N.E.2d 149, 150 (Ind. 1978)(“Use of voice identification of an offender is permitted in criminal cases.”)


• Any doubt regarding the credibility of a voice identification generally goes to the weight of the evidence and not its admissibility.

Davis v. State, 598 N.E.2d 1041, 1050 (Ind. 1992), reh’g denied, cert. denied, 510 U.S. 948 (1993)(citing Ashley v. State, 493 N.E.2d 768, 774 (Ind. 1986))

Parrish v. State, 515 N.E.2d 516, 520 (Ind. 1987)(citing Ashley v. State, 493 N.E.2d 768, 774 (Ind. 1986))

• For more information about the admissibility of voice identification evidence, please review Admissibility.

Suggestivity in voice identifications: Subject of what is said

• [T]he victim testified that she was not sure whether she was told by police that the voice on the tape was a suspect, but that she could have assumed as much. The conversation on the tape was that of a police officer questioning a person about a rape other than the one in issue here. ... The fact that the tape here was a conversation dealing with rape does not alone make the tape unnecessarily suggestive. In view of all the circumstances and evidence on this issue, we find that there was no unnecessary suggestivity in this voice identification procedure.

Harris v. State, 373 N.E.2d 149, 150 (Ind. 1978)

Suggestivity in voice identifications: Voice identification lineups

• [The defendant] claims the trial court erred in permitting testimony regarding voice identification. He claims that the voice identification was too suggestive, in that [the defendant’s] voice was distinctive from each of the other five speakers because it was softer. He further points out that the other participants had difficulty in reading the prepared text. He claims no effort was made to obtain participants with similar voice characteristics other than the fact they were all black and of approximately the same age. We do not perceive that any of these factors are sufficient to invalidate the voice identification lineup.

Matthews v. State, 518 N.E.2d 807, 808 (Ind. 1988)

• Defendant further argues that the identification of his voice by [the witness] should have been suppressed since the voice identification procedure utilized was unnecessarily suggestive. His contention seems based on the fact that [the witness] asked that Defendant repeat certain phrases while none of the others in the lineup were required to repeat the phrases. We find no merit to this contention, however. [The witness] asked that subject No. 2 repeat the phrases after she had heard all of them make the same statements. The police did not request Defendant to speak more than the others nor did they instruct [the witness] to hear Defendant a second time. This was done by her to clarify her identification. There was no showing that this lineup was impermissibly suggestive in any manner.

Wagner v. State, 474 N.E.2d 476, 485 (Ind. 1985)(emphasis added)


• Identification of the perpetrator of an offense through recognition of voice is not insufficient as a matter of law. Appellate opinions do reveal[,] however[,] a heightened judicial concern in dealing with convictions based upon it which often takes the form of a close look at independent corroborating evidence.

Bane v. State, 424 N.E.2d 1000, 1002 (Ind. 1981)

Evans v. State, 542 N.E.2d 546, 548 (Ind. 1989)(citing Bane v. State, 424 N.E.2d 1000, 1002 (Ind. 1981))

• Nevertheless, there is no rule requiring buttressing corroborative identification evidence and voice identification has been treated as independently sufficient.

Bane v. State, 424 N.E.2d 1000, 1002 (Ind. 1981)(citing Zollatz v. State, 412 N.E.2d 1200, 1201-02 (Ind. 1980))

Voice identification evidence as direct evidence

• We hold that voice identification evidence that places the defendant at the crime scene at the precise time and place of the crime’s commission is direct evidence. It is an identification of the defendant as the perpetrator of the crime based on the use of the witness’ personal senses, even if the sense involved is hearing, not sight.

Jackson v. State, 758 N.E.2d 1030, 1036 (Ind. Ct. App. 2001)