DEFINITION of ‘Perp Walk’
A slang term that describes the practice sometimes employed by law enforcement authorities, notably in the U.S., of parading an arrested suspect in public, with members of the media usually in attendance. Short for “perpetrator walk,” the alleged suspect is usually a white-collar or high-profile criminal. The perp walk often takes place either shortly after the suspect is first arrested at his or her residence or workplace, or when the suspect is on the way to court for an arraignment.
BREAKING DOWN ‘Perp Walk’
Defenders of the perp walk contend that it is meant to assert that no individual – regardless of their office or reputation – is above the law. Critics contend that the perp walk is a tactic employed by ambitious attorneys to bolster their public image, and serves little purpose apart from publicly humiliating the defendant. Another criticism is that the use of the term “perp” itself denies the defendant the presumption of innocence, which is one of the most basic tenets of the law.