Do you have to identify yourself to authorities immediately upon request?

I know this has been discussed before, but given all the changes to the legal system since 9/11, does a person in a public place breaking no laws have to identify himself immediately to a police officer? Does a person have the right to ask why he is being asked for identification? See link:

Now this officer was clearly over the top, but did the citizen have the right to ask why he needs to present ID?

I await an answer also. I’ve been told, but no cite, that if stopped you are required to provide your name, and if driving, produce a DL and perhaps insurance papers depending on your state.

I’m also told that providing an ID, such as DL could be to your benefit because they may be able to detain you until your ID can be verified.

ACLU is suing East Lansing MI over this issue: ACLU Suit

I had seen a document on their website explaining what was required when detained, but can’t seem to locate it now.

For help in further research, one term you may need is “Stop and Identify statutes”.

As that Wikipedia link references, the SCOTUS recently ruled that laws requiring you to identify yourself to authorities do not violate the consitution. However, if there is no law (usually at the state level) then I would assume you wouldn’t have to do so.
This is certainly a touchy subject right now, and a police officer might dissagree with you about whether or not there is such a law on the books, and they usually win, at least at first.

If you’re stopped by the police and asked to identify yourself, how much information do you need to provide?
Your name and address is the standard answer.
Do you have to spell your name?
Do you have to spell your address?
How about your ZIP code?

It depends upon jurisdiction, of course.

Some states have codified their stop and identify procedures, and these can include simply giving your name, giving your name and address, or even showing identification. I do not believe that every state has established a statutory right to stop and identify, but it won’t be long in this post-9/11 climate before it’s a federally mandated requirement. :frowning:

A police officer is not going to assert that there is a stop and identify statute unless the state has one. What an officer in a state without one might do is insist that you do so anyway, under the inherent police powers of the state. Then, the question would be whether such an exercise of power violates the Constitution (a question not yet squarely considered, although the Court has been all around it, between such cases as Terry and Hiibel. Obviously, the power to compel implies the power to punish the lack of compliance, which is where the right of the state competes with the right of the person to be left the hell alone. :smiley:

A few years ago, one of my tenants was riding a bike (he had no driver’s lic.) very near here, within in a block, when a cop stopped him and asked for I.D. He didn’t have any, but he told the cop his name and pointed to where he lived. The cop didn’t buy it and told him the law required him to carry I.D. Oddly the cop let him put the bike on my property and then took him to the cop shop to ascertain his identity. Nothing was ever said about any charges, or suspicions, other than not carrying I.D.
When they let him go he had to walk several miles home. He asked me about it later and I’d never heard of such a law. I tried to find out, but came up dry.
Now this guy is kind of scraggly looking and he’s not very bright, but I found this strange.
As far as I know, Washington state has no such law on the books. They do issue non-driver I.D., but I know of no requirement to apply for it.

And there is a difference between IDing yourself “My Name is Bob Smith” and surrendering/showing your ID: (wiki)*Writing for the Court in Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of Nevada, Justice Kennedy stated:

“As we understand it, the statute does not require a suspect to give the officer a driver's license or any other document. Provided that the suspect either states his name or communicates it to the officer by other means—a choice, we assume, that the suspect may make—the statute is satisfied and no violation occurs.” *

The OP’s profile indicates that he lives in Ohio. State law there requires you to give your name, address, and date of birth if you are suspected of committing or witnessing a crime.

Just to be clear, there’s an important distinction here between whether the police have a right to stop anyone at random and ask for identification, and whether you are required to identify yourself if you are suspected of a crime. In general, you’re not required to identify yourself in the first case. However, if the police have probable cause or reasonable suspicion to stop you (what the courts call a “Terry stop” ), it’s well established that they are entitled to ask you to identify yourself. The court also recently ruled in in Hiibel v Nevada that failure to identify yourself during a lawful stop is sufficient grounds to be arrested and prosecuted. Here’s what they said, in part:

As DS mentions, many states have passed “stop and identify” laws that expand the requirements for you to identify yourself to the police and outline what information you can be required to furnish. (Wikipedia cites at least 24 states with such laws in effect, and there may be more. In those states, the general principle I outlined above for the first case doesn’t necessarily apply.

My layman’s advice, for what it’s worth, is that when an officer is asking you for identification, he has already established in his own mind that he has met the criteria for a Terry stop.

I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice, your mileage may vary, and all other disclaimers apply.

The same subject is being discussed in a simultaneous thread .

That’s not correct. If the police have a right to stop you, they have a right to ask you to identify yourself. If you refuse, they can arrest you for refusing to do so. See my citations in the other thread, or read the Supreme Court’s opinion in Hiibel v Nevada.

What constitutes a legal stop is also well defined by the SCOTUS 1968 decision in Terry v Ohio.

Threads merged.

Gfactor, General Questions Moderator

Why would there be a need for stop-and-identify statutes, then? The case you cite is regarding the use of one of these laws:

Absent the law requiring one to indentify oneself to an officer, what charge would there be for refusing? DSYoungEsq points out that such a requirement may be inferred from other police-officer powers, but not every juristiction has even that. I interpret the ruling as allowing these laws on the books, not inserting a blanket power without legislation.

None. I didn’t intend to imply that. In states without a specific law, I don’t think you would be charged. In some states it might fall under obstruction of justice or even vagrancy laws, and some states have laws against providing false identification.

Correct me if I am wrong, but if you refuse to identify yourself, the police can detain you until they do (assuming they meet the Terry requirements).

Follow along the thought process.

We know that the police have the right to stop you in certain circumstances and ask you to identify yourself (Terry). We know that it is not a violation of the constitution to arrest you for failure to identify yourself (Hiibel). So the only question left is, can a police officer arrest you in the absence of a specific law stating that you must show identification? The answer, of course, is that the officer must have some other law that he believes you have broken, but that could be as simple as obstruction of justice, depending upon what the state court for that state will consider a valid interpretation. But there is no issue of federal constitutionality involved, because Hiibel made that clear. (Indeed, it should be noted that the arrest in Hiibel was not for failure to produce identification, but for obstruction of justice, the obstruction being failure to comply with the stop and identify statute)

Now, partly in response to DrDeth, it would, I think, be a mistake to read into Hiibel a reluctance to extend the ruling to a state with a stop and identify statute that required production of some identification card. Nothing about the production of such card would make your action in responding to the request any more potentially incriminating, unless the state had a law mandating identification and penalizing failur to obtain same. And, of course, in a state that required production of an ID card, if you did not have such a card, you could always state that fact, and then it would be up to the state to decide what the procedure would be in such circumstances for verifying identity, including, presumably, a statutory penalty for lying about lack of a state-issued identification card.

But, AFAIK, no state has such a requirement. I think we would have heard about it if any state started requiring “papers” just to walk down the sidewalk. I also am of the opinion that such an idea would never be tolerated in this country, but I’ve been wrong before.

Now, we cannot conclude from this decision that Dempsey would have been convicted of obstruction merely for refusing to offer identification and walking away. However, the fact that it could be used as part of the determination that he had used or threatened to use an “obstacle” to obstruct the lawful efforts of a peace officer in the execution of his duties does not bode well for refusing to present identification in Colorado.

my emphasis
This doesn’t look like a statute requiring carrying of ID.

Yes, but the very statute you cited (#2) states “identification if available.” Who determines this? It seems that I can walk through Colorado without my wallet and I’m golden, but if I carry ID I have to show it upon demand. Kinda contradictory, if you ask me. What if I define “available” as “in my hand at the time,” and therefore anything in my wallet is “unavailable.” I can’t see the law being that discriminatory. Bums are safe but regular people aren’t.

Besides which it’s clearly unconstitutional.