Stop and identify statutes
The authority to detain on reasonable suspicion was established in Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968), and does not depend on the existence of a law that specifically authorizes such a detention, so that authority exists in all jurisdictions in the United States. The name disclosure was considered by the U.S. Supreme Court in Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of Nevada, 542 U.S. 177 (2004), which held that the name disclosure did not violate the Fourth Amendment prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures. The Hiibel Court also held that, because Hiibel had no reasonable belief that his name would be used to incriminate him, the name disclosure did not violate the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination; however, the Court left open the possibility that Fifth Amendment right might apply in situations where there was a reasonable belief that giving a name could be incriminating. The Court accepted the Nevada supreme court's interpretation of the Nevada statute that a detained person could satisfy the Nevada law by simply stating his name. The Court did not rule on whether particular identification cards could be required, though it did mention one state's law requiring "credible and reliable" identification had been struck down for vagueness.
In the United States, interactions between police and citizens fall into three general categories: consensual ("contact" or "conversation"), detention (often called a Terry stop, after Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968)), or arrest. "Stop and identify" laws pertain to detentions.
Different obligations apply to drivers of motor vehicles, who generally are required by state vehicle codes to present a driver’s license to police upon request.
At any time, police may approach a person and ask questions. The objective may simply be a friendly conversation; however, the police also may suspect involvement in a crime, but lack "specific and articulable facts" that would justify a detention or arrest, and hope to obtain these facts from the questioning. The person approached is not required to identify himself or answer any other questions, and may leave at any time. Police are not usually required to tell a person that he is free to decline to answer questions and go about his business; however, a person can usually determine whether the interaction is consensual by asking, "Am I free to go?"
A person is detained when circumstances are such that a reasonable person would believe he is not free to leave.
Police may briefly detain a person if they have reasonable suspicion that the person has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime. Many state laws explicitly grant this authority; in Terry v. Ohio, the U.S. Supreme Court established it in all jurisdictions, regardless of explicit mention in state or local laws. Police may conduct a limited search for weapons (known as a "frisk") if they reasonably suspect that the person to be detained may be armed and dangerous.
Police may question a person detained in a Terry stop, but in general, the detainee is not required to answer. However, many states have "stop and identify" laws that explicitly require a person detained under the conditions of Terry to identify himself to police, and in some cases, provide additional information.
Before Hiibel, it was unresolved whether a detainee could be arrested and prosecuted for refusing to disclose his name. Authority on this issue was split among the federal circuit courts of appeal, and the U.S. Supreme Court twice expressly refused to address the question. In Hiibel, the Court held, in a 5–4 decision, that a Nevada "stop and identify" law did not violate the United States Constitution. The Court’s opinion implied that a detainee was not required to produce written identification, but could satisfy the requirement merely by stating his name. Some "stop and identify" laws do not require that a detainee identify himself, but allow refusal to do so to be considered along with other factors in determining whether there is probable cause to arrest. In some states, providing a false name is an offense.
As of February 2011, the Supreme Court has not addressed the validity of requirements that a detainee provide information other than his name.
A detention requires only that police have reasonable suspicion that a person is involved in criminal activity. However, to make an arrest, an officer must have probable cause to believe that the person has committed a crime. Some states require police to inform the person of the intent to make the arrest and the cause for the arrest. But it is not always obvious when a detention becomes an arrest. After making an arrest, police may search a person, his or her belongings, and his or her immediate surroundings.
Whether an arrested person must identify himself may depend on the jurisdiction in which the arrest occurs. If a person is under arrest and police wish to question him, they are required to inform the person of his Fifth-Amendment right to remain silent by giving a Miranda warning. However, Miranda does not apply to biographical data necessary to complete booking. It is not clear whether a "stop and identify" law could compel giving one’s name after being arrested, although some states have laws that specifically require an arrested person to give his name and other biographical information, and some state courts have held that refusal to give one’s name constitutes obstructing a public officer. As a practical matter, an arrested person who refused to give his name would have little chance of obtaining a prompt release.
Obligation to identify
|States with "stop and identify" laws|
|Alabama||Ala. Code §15-5-30|
|Arizona||Ari. Rev. Stat. Tit. 13, §2412 (enacted 2005)|
|Arkansas||Ark. Code Ann. §5-71-213(a)(1) (loitering)|
|Colorado||Colo. Rev. Stat. §16-3-103(1)|
|Delaware||Del. Code Ann., Tit. 11, §§1902, 1321(6)|
|Florida||Fla. Stat. §901.151 (Stop and Frisk Law); §856.021(2) (loitering and prowling)|
|Georgia||Ga. Code Ann. §16-11-36(b) (loitering)|
|Illinois||Ill. Comp. Stat., ch. 725, §5/107-14|
|Indiana||Indiana Code §34-28-5-3.5|
|Kansas||Kan. Stat. Ann. §22-2402(1)|
|Louisiana||La. Code Crim. Proc. Ann., Art. 215.1(A); La. Rev. Stat. 14:108(B)(1)(c)|
|Missouri||Mo. Rev. Stat. §84.710(2)|
|Montana||Mont. Code Ann. §46-5-401|
|Nebraska||Neb. Rev. Stat. §29-829|
|Nevada||Nev. Rev. Stat. §171.123|
|New Hampshire||N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §594:2, §644:6|
|New Mexico||N.M. Stat. Ann. §30-22-3|
|New York||N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law §140.50|
|North Dakota||N.D. Cent. Code §29-29-21 (PDF)|
|Ohio||Ohio Rev. Code §2921.29 (enacted 2006)|
|Rhode Island||R.I. Gen. Laws §12-7-1|
|Texas||Texas Penal Code §38.02(a)(b)|
|Utah||Utah Code Ann. §77-7-15|
|Vermont||Vt. Stat. Ann., Tit. 24, §1983|
|Wisconsin||Wis. Stat. §968.24|
As of February 2011, there is no U.S. federal law requiring that an individual identify himself during a Terry stop, but Hiibel held that states may enact such laws, provided the law requires the officer to have reasonable and articulable suspicion of criminal involvement, and 25 states have done so. The opinion in Hiibel implied that persons detained by police in jurisdictions with constitutional "stop and identify" laws listed are obligated to identify themselves, and that persons detained in other jurisdictions are not. The issue may not be that simple, however, for several reasons:
- The wording of "stop and identify" laws varies considerably from state to state.
- Noncompliance with a "stop and identify" law that does not explicitly impose a penalty may constitute violation of another law, such as one to the effect of "resisting, obstructing, or delaying a peace officer".
- State courts have made varying interpretations of both "stop and identify" and "obstructing" laws.
Variations in "stop and identify" laws
- Five states’ laws (Arizona, Indiana, Louisiana, Nevada, and Ohio) explicitly impose an obligation to provide identifying information.
- Fourteen states grant police authority to ask questions, with varying wording, but do not explicitly impose an obligation to respond:
- In Montana, police "may request" identifying information;
- In 12 states (Alabama, Delaware, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Utah, Wisconsin), police "may demand" identifying information;
- In Colorado, police "may require" identifying information of a person.
- Identifying information varies, but typically includes
- Name, address, and an explanation of the person’s actions;
- In some cases it also includes the person’s intended destination, the person’s date of birth (Indiana and Ohio), or written identification if available (Colorado).
- Arizona’s law, apparently written specifically to codify the holding in Hiibel, requires a person’s "true full name".
- Nevada’s law, which requires a person to "identify himself or herself", apparently requires only that the person state his or her name.
- Texas’s law requires a person to provide their name, residence address and date of birth if lawfully arrested and asked by police. (A detained person or witness of a crime is not required to provide any identifying information, however it is a crime for a detained person or witness to give a false name.)
- In five states (Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island), failure to identify oneself is one factor to be considered in a decision to arrest. In all but Rhode Island, the consideration arises in the context of loitering or prowling.
- Seven states (Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, New Mexico, Ohio, and Vermont) explicitly impose a criminal penalty for noncompliance with the obligation to identify oneself.
- Virginia makes it a nonjailable misdemeanor to refuse to identify oneself to a conservator of the peace when one is at the scene of a breach of the peace witnessed by that conservator.
As of February 2011, the validity of a law requiring that a person detained provide anything more than stating his or her name has not come before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Interaction with other laws
In states whose "stop and identify laws" do not directly impose penalties, a lawful arrest must be for violation of some other law, such as one to the effect of "resisting, obstructing, or delaying a peace officer". For example, the Nevada "stop and identify" law challenged in Hiibel did not impose a penalty on a person who refused to comply, but the Justice Court of Union Township, Nevada, determined that Hiibel’s refusal to identify himself constituted a violation of Nevada’s "obstructing" law. A similar conclusion regarding the interaction between Utah’s "stop and identify" and "obstructing" laws was reached in Oliver v. Woods (10th Cir. 2000).
Interpretation by courts
"Stop and identify" laws in different states that appear to be nearly identical may be different in effect because of interpretations by state courts. For example, California’s "stop and identify" law, Penal Code §647(e) had wording similar to the Nevada law upheld in Hiibel, but a California appellate court, in People v. Solomon (1973), 33 Cal.App.3d 429 construed the law to require "credible and reliable" identification that carries a "reasonable assurance" of its authenticity. Using this construction, the U.S. Supreme Court held the law to be void for vagueness in Kolender v. Lawson, 461 U.S. 352 (1983).
Some courts have recognized a distinction authorizing police to demand identifying information and specifically imposing an obligation of a suspect to respond. Other courts have apparently interpreted demand to impose an obligation on the detainee to comply.
Wording and interpretation by state courts of "obstructing" laws also varies; for example, New York’s "obstructing" law apparently requires physical rather than simply verbal obstruction; likewise, a violation of the Colorado "obstructing" law appears to require use or threat of use of physical force. However, the Colorado Supreme Court held in Dempsey v. People, No. 04SC362 (2005) (PDF) that refusing to provide identification was an element in the "totality of the circumstances" that could constitute obstructing an officer, even when actual physical interference was not employed. Utah’s "obstructing" law does not require a physical act, but merely a failure to follow a "lawful order . . . necessary to effect the . . . detention"; a divided court in Oliver v. Woods concluded that failure to present identification constituted a violation of that law.
It is not universally agreed that, absent a "stop and identify law", there is no obligation for a detainee to identify himself. For example, as the U.S. Supreme Court noted in Hiibel, California’s "stop and identify" statute was voided in Kolender v. Lawson. But in People v. Long, decided four years after Kolender, a California appellate court found no constitutional impropriety in a police officer’s demand for written identification from a detainee. The issue before the Long court was a request for suppression of evidence uncovered in a search of the defendant’s wallet, so the issue of refusal to present identification was not directly addressed; however some cite Long in maintaining that refusal to present written identification constitutes obstructing an officer. Others disagree, and maintain that persons detained by police in California cannot be compelled to identify themselves.
Some courts, e.g., State v. Flynn (Wis. 1979) and People v. Loudermilk (Calif. 1987) have held that police may perform a search for written identification if a suspect refuses to provide it; a later California decision, People v. Garcia (2006) strongly disagreed.
Recommendations of legal-aid organizations
Some legal organizations, such as the National Lawyers Guild and the ACLU of Northern California, recommend to either remain silent or to identify oneself whether or not a jurisdiction has a "stop and identify" law:
- And in any state, police do not always follow the law, and refusing to give your name may make them suspicious and lead to your arrest, so use your judgment. If you fear that your name may be incriminating, you can claim the right to remain silent, and if you are arrested, this may help you later. Giving a false name could be a crime.
In a more recent pamphlet, the ACLU of Northern California elaborated on this further, recommending that a person detained by police should:
- . . . give your name and the information on your drivers’ license. If you don’t, you may be arrested, even though the arrest may be illegal.
- Brown v. Texas
- Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of Nevada
- Kolender v. Lawson
- Miranda v. Arizona
- Terry stop
- Terry v. Ohio
- United States Constitution
- List of national identity card policies by country for policies in other countries
- Although police and police officer are used throughout this article, most "stop and identify" laws use the term peace officer (or sometimes law enforcement officer). In general, peace officers are state civil employees charged with preserving the public peace and granted the authority to do so. Peace officers normally include police, sheriffs and their deputies, marshals, and often many other persons; those included vary among the states.
- In upholding Hiibel's conviction, the Court noted,
- In this case petitioner’s refusal to disclose his name was not based on any articulated real and appreciable fear that his name would be used to incriminate him.... As best we can tell, petitioner refused to identify himself only because he thought his name was none of the officer’s business. — 542 U.S. at 190
- Still, a case may arise where there is a substantial allegation that furnishing identity at the time of a stop would have given the police a link in the chain of evidence needed to convict the individual of a separate offense. In that case, the court can then consider whether the privilege applies, and, if the Fifth Amendment has been violated, what remedy must follow. We need not resolve those questions here. — 542 U.S. at 191
- Writing for the Court in Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of Nevada, Justice Kennedy stated,
- Here the Nevada statute is narrower and more precise. The statute in Kolender had been interpreted to require a suspect to give the officer "credible and reliable" identification. In contrast, the Nevada Supreme Court has interpreted NRS §171.123(3) to require only that a suspect disclose his name. — 542 U.S. at 184–185
- As we understand it, the statute does not require a suspect to give the officer a drivers 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. — 542 U.S. at 185
- The suspect is not required to provide private details about his background, but merely to state his name to an officer when reasonable suspicion exists. — 118 Nev. 868 at 875
- Writing for the Court in Terry v. Ohio, Chief Justice Warren stated,
- And in justifying the particular intrusion the police officer must be able to point to specific and articulable facts which, taken together with rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warrant that intrusion. — 392 U.S. at 21
- Writing for the Court in Florida v. Royer 460 U.S. 491 (1983), Justice White stated,
- The person approached, however, need not answer any question put to him; indeed, he may decline to listen to the questions at all and may go on his way. — 460 U.S. at 497–498
- Writing for the Court in United States v. Mendenhall, 446 U.S. 544 (1980) Justice Stewart stated,
- Our conclusion that no seizure occurred is not affected by the fact that the respondent was not expressly told by the agents that she was free to decline to cooperate with their inquiry, for the voluntariness of her responses does not depend upon her having been so informed. — 446 U.S. at 555
- The ACLU publication Know Your Rights When Encountering Law Enforcement states,
- You can say, "I do not want to talk to you" and walk away calmly. Or, if you do not feel comfortable doing that, you can ask if you are free to go. If the answer is yes, you can consider just walking away. Do not run from the officer. If the officer says you are not under arrest, but you are not free to go, then you are being detained.
- If the encounter is consensual, a person approached need not actually leave to terminate the encounter, but may simply ignore police. In Michigan v. Chesternut, 486 U.S. 567 (1988), Justice Blackmun explained the Court’s holding that Chesternut had not been detained, stating that the police conduct "would not have communicated to a reasonable person that he was not at liberty to ignore the police presence and go about his business." — 486 U.S. at 569
- Writing for the Court in United States v. Mendenhall, 446 U.S. 544 (1980) Justice Stewart stated:
- We conclude that a person has been "seized" within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment only if, in view of all of the circumstances surrounding the incident, a reasonable person would have believed that he was not free to leave. — 446 U.S. at 554
- In a concurring opinion in Terry v. Ohio, Justice White stated that a person detained can be questioned but is "not obliged to answer, answers may not be compelled, and refusal to answer furnishes no basis for an arrest." This opinion, in turn, was cited in many later cases, including Berkemer v. McCarty, 468 U.S. 420 (1984).
- In describing the split authority among the federal appellate court circuits in Hiibel v. Dist. Ct., the Nevada Supreme Court stated:
- In Oliver v. Woods, [209 F.3d 1179, 1190 (10th Cir. 2000)] the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Utah statute that requires individuals to produce identification to an officer during an investigatory stop. However, in Carey v. Nevada Gaming Control Board [279 F.3d 873, 881 (9th Cir. 2002)], the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that NRS 171.123(3) violates the Fourth Amendment because " ‘the serious intrusion on personal security outweighs the mere possibility that identification [might] provide a link leading to arrest.’ "
- In Hiibel v. Dist. Ct., the Nevada Supreme Court noted that the U.S. Supreme Court declined to address the issue of identification in Brown v. Texas, 443 U.S. 47 (1979), at 53 n.3 ("We need not decide whether an individual may be punished for refusing to identify himself in the context of a lawful investigatory stop which satisfies Fourth Amendment requirements."); and Kolender v. Lawson, 461 U.S. 352 (1983), 361–62 n.10 (holding that a California statute was unconstitutional on vagueness grounds, but refusing to consider whether the statute violated the Fourth Amendment).
- Texas does not require a detainee to identify himself unless he has been lawfully arrested, but does make it a crime to provide a false name. Texas Penal Code § 38.02 reads, in relevant part,
- (b) A person commits an offense if he intentionally gives a false or fictitious name, residence address, or date of birth to a peace officer who has:
- (1) lawfully arrested the person;
- (2) lawfully detained the person; or
- (3) requested the information from a person that the peace officer has good cause to believe is a witness to a criminal offense.
- (b) A person commits an offense if he intentionally gives a false or fictitious name, residence address, or date of birth to a peace officer who has:
- California Penal Code § 841, states, in relevant part,
- The person making the arrest must inform the person to be arrested of the intention to arrest him, of the cause of the arrest, and the authority to make it . . .
- In Pennsylvania v. Muniz, 496 U.S. 582 (1990), the Court cited the Brief for United States as Amicus Curiae 12 quoting United States v. Horton, 873 F.2d 180, 181, n. 2 [CA8 1989]),
- the questions fall within a "routine booking question" exception which exempts from Miranda's coverage questions to secure the "'biographical data necessary to complete booking or pretrial services.'" — 496 U.S. at 601–602
- The Fifth Amendment prohibits only communication that is testimonial, incriminating, and compelled; see United States v. Hubbell, 530 U.S. 27 (2000), at 34–38. Hiibel held that, in the circumstances of the case, a person’s name is not incriminating, and consequently is not protected by the Fifth-Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. — 530 U.S. at 34–38
- Texas Penal Code, Title 8, §38.02(a), reads
- A person commits an offense if he intentionally refuses to give his name, residence address, or date of birth to a peace officer who has lawfully arrested the person and requested the information.
- In People v. Quiroga (1993) 16 Cal.App.4th 961, the Court held that refusal to disclose one’s identity following a felony arrest constituted obstructing an officer:
- These statutory provisions lead to the conclusion that a refusal to disclose personal identification following arrest for a misdemeanor or infraction cannot constitute a violation of [California] Penal Code section 148. . . . Section 148 can reasonably be construed as applying to nondisclosure of identity following arrest for felonies, but not minor offenses, if this exception applies to the provisions cited above dealing with arrests for minor offenses. — 16 Cal.App.4th 961, 970
- In Burkes v. State (Fla. 2d DCA 1998), Case No. 97-00552, the Court, in affirming the appellant’s conviction for violation of § 843.02, Florida Statutes, "Resisting officer without violence to his or her person", stated:
- The most compelling argument we discern for answering this question in the affirmative is that the right to remain silent means just that and has no exceptions. We, nevertheless, conclude that after an individual has been lawfully arrested, he must provide his name or otherwise identify himself when asked by law enforcement officers.
- The Hiibel Court held, "The principles of Terry permit a State to require a suspect to disclose his name in the course of a Terry stop." — 542 U.S. at 187
- The opinion in Hiibel included a list of 21 states with "stop and identify" laws. For some reason, the Indiana and Texas laws were not included in the list; the Arizona and Ohio laws have been enacted since Hiibel was decided.
- "Constitutional" means that the law requires the officer to have reasonable and articulable suspicion of criminal involvement. See Hiibel.
- Writing for the Court in Hiibel, Justice Kennedy stated, "the source of the legal obligation [to identify oneself] arises from Nevada state law". — 542 U.S. at 187
- In Hiibel, Justice Kennedy stated, "In other States, a suspect may decline to identify himself without penalty.″ — 542 U.S. at 183
- The opinion noted that Hiibel was asked to provide identification, which the Court understood as a request to produce a driver’s license or some other form of written identification, 11 different times; however, it did not indicate that Hiibel was ever asked simply to identify himself.
- NRS §199.280 provides a penalty for a person who "willfully resists, delays or obstructs a public officer in discharging or attempting to discharge any legal duty of his office"
- California's stop-and-identify law in Penal Code §647(e) was repealed several years after 1983 and the sub-sections re-lettered, so the current Penal Code §647(e) is what used to be Penal Code §647(f). Also, do not confuse Penal Code §647(e) with Penal Code §647e.
- (voided in Kolender v. Lawson), read, in relevant part,
- Every person who commits any of the following acts is guilty of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor: . . . (e) who loiters or wanders upon the streets or from place to place without apparent reason or business and who refuses to identify himself and to account for his presence when requested by any peace officer so to do, if the surrounding circumstances are such as to indicate to a reasonable man that the public safety demands such identification.
- In voiding California Penal Code §647(e) in Kolender v. Lawson, Justice O’Connor, writing for the Court, noted that
- Section 647(e), as presently drafted and as construed by the state courts, contains no standard for determining what a suspect has to do in order to satisfy the requirement to provide a "credible and reliable" identification. As such, the statute vests virtually complete discretion in the hands of the police to determine whether the suspect has satisfied the statute. — 461 U.S. at 358
- Writing for the Court in People v. Love, 318 Ill.App.3d 534 (2000), Justice O’Brien stated,
- The State next argues that the officer’s order was a justifiable means of compelling defendant to state his name pursuant to section 107-14, which provides that an officer making a Terry stop may "demand the name and address of the person and an explanation of his actions." 725 ILCS 5/107-14 (West 1992). However, while section 107-14 states that an officer may "demand" the defendant’s name, it does not provide that the officer may compel a response. Further, the United States Supreme Court has stated in the context of a Terry stop: "[T]he officer may ask the detainee a moderate number of questions to determine his identity and to try to obtain information confirming or dispelling the officer’s suspicions. But the detainee is not obliged to respond." (Emphasis added.) Berkemer v. McCarty, 468 U.S. 420, 438, 82 L. Ed. 2d 317, 334, 104 S. Ct. 3138, 3150 (1984).
- In Cady v. Sheahan (7th Cir. 2006), the Court stated,
- In Hiibel, the Supreme Court held that states are permitted to statutorily authorize the demand for identification during a Terry stop, and to require compliance with such demand. 542 U.S. at 188, 124 S.Ct. 2451. Cady’s identity was relevant to the purpose of the stop and the officers did not exceed the scope of the stop by requesting identification. [footnotes omitted]
- Writing for the Court in Oliver v. Woods, 209 F.3d 1179 (10th Cir. 2000), Judge Brorby stated,
- Section 76-8-305 does not require the use of force; mere refusal to perform any act required by a lawful order necessary to effect the detention is sufficient to constitute a violation of § 76-8-305. Moreover, an individual who merely refuses to refrain from performing any act that would impede the arrest or detention violates this section. . . . Thus, Officer Woods gave a lawful order when he told Mr. Oliver to present identification and to remain in the parking lot while he conducted the investigation. By refusing to present identification, Mr. Oliver refused to perform an act required by lawful order, necessary to effect the detention.
- New Yorks "obstructing" law, NY Consolidated Laws Penal (PEN) §195.05, reads, in relevant part,
- A person is guilty of obstructing governmental administration when he intentionally obstructs, impairs or perverts the administration of law or other governmental function, or prevents or attempts to prevent a public servant from performing an official function, by means of intimidation, physical force or interference, or by means of any independently unlawful act
- In People v. Offen, 408 N.Y.S.2d 914, 96 Misc.2d 147 (1978), Judge Hertz stated,
- An essential element of the crime of obstructing governmental administration, to be charged in an information, must be an act of either (1) intimidation or (2) physical force or interference or (3) an independently unlawful act.
- Plainly, ignoring an officer’s request for identification is not a crime, nor does that act supply any such element. Though it is clear that such conduct risks pursuit and arrest, no crime has been charged here. — 96 Misc.2d at 150
- See When Do You Have to Give Your Name at the RNC Protests? under External links for an analysis of New York’s "stop and identify" and "obstructing" laws by Just Law Collective lawyer Katya Komisaruk.
- Colorado’s "obstructing" law, Colorado Revised Statutes §18-8-104(1), reads, in relevant part,
- A person commits obstructing a peace officer . . . when by using or threatening to use violence, force, physical interference, or an obstacle, such person knowingly obstructs, impairs, or hinders the enforcement of the penal law or the preservation of the peace by a peace officer, acting under color of his or her official authority.
- Utah’s "obstructing" law, Utah Code §76-8-305, reads as follows:
- Interference with arresting officer.
- A person is guilty of a class B misdemeanor if he has knowledge, or by the exercise of reasonable care should have knowledge, that a peace officer is seeking to effect a lawful arrest or detention of that person or another and interferes with the arrest or detention by:
- (1) use of force or any weapon;
- (2) the arrested person’s refusal to perform any act required by lawful order:
- (a) necessary to effect the arrest or detention; and
- (b) made by a peace officer involved in the arrest or detention; or
- (3) the arrested person’s or another person’s refusal to refrain from performing any act that would impede the arrest or detention.
- In People v. Long (1987) 189 Cal.App.3d 77, Judge Agliano wrote,
- The voluntary display of identification is a routine experience for most of us. Measured against the obvious and substantial need for police recording the identity of a person suspected of having committed a crime, we find reasonable the minimal intrusion involved here in requiring the production of identification. In addition, defendant’s oral statement of his name was suspect when he insisted he had no identification while appearing to carry a wallet and, in addition, he seemed intoxicated.
- Shortly after Hiibel was decided, the Alameda County (California) District Attorney's Office provided a case analysis (PDF) in the 2004 edition of Point of View maintaining that refusal to identify oneself and provide written identification (if available) constitutes a violation of Penal Code §148(a)(1), resisting, delaying, or obstructing an officer.
- The California Peace Officers Legal Sourcebook ("CPOLS"; written by the office of the California Attorney General) maintains that failure to identify oneself does not constitute a violation of California Penal Code §148(a)(1), resisting, delaying, or obstructing a peace officer:
- Unlike Nevada and 20 other states, California does not have a statute mandating that a detainee identify himself, and that obligation cannot be read into Penal Code Section 148. (Rev. 1/08, p. 2.14a)
- In State v. Flynn (1979) 92 Wis.2d 427 [285 N.W.2d 710, 718], cert. den. 449 U.S. 846, the Wisconsin Supreme Court held that the Terry limitation of a search "to an intrusion reasonably designed to discover guns, knives, clubs, or other hidden instruments for the assault of the police officer." (392 U.S. at 29) was limited to the specific circumstances of Terry. Chief Justice Beilfuss wrote,
- It is clear from the language itself that the court’s holding in Terry was limited to the precise situation before it. The court did not say that the sole justification for any search on less than probable cause is the protection of the police officer and others, but that that was the sole justification of the search in the situation then before it. The situation before us is significantly different.
- In People v. Loudermilk (1987) 195 Cal.App.3d 996, Judge Low stated,
- Neither case [Kolender v. Lawson or Brown v. Texas] could be interpreted to prevent a police officer from demanding that a Terry suspect produce proof of identification. Further, nothing in those or other cases cited by defendant prevents an officer from seizing a wallet found during a lawful patdown search after that suspect has lied to the officer that he had no identification. — 195 Cal.App.3d at 1003
- We must emphasize that we do not hold that a suspect may be detained and searched merely because he either refused to identify himself or refused to produce proof of identification. Nor do we hold that each time an officer conducts a Terry stop he may immediately conduct a search for identification. The rule we announce does not provide officers with unfettered discretion and does not open citizens to harassment. — 195 Cal.App.3d at 1004
- In People v. Garcia (2006) 145 Cal.App.4th 782, Judge Yegan, noting State v. Flynn (Wis. 1979) and State v. Wilcox (N.J. 1981), stated,
- We need not look to other jurisdictions to decide this case. We would have to indulge in legal legerdemain to justify a patdown search for identification. In fact, it would require a rewriting of Terry v. Ohio, supra, which we could not and would not undertake even if we were so inclined. Here, the record is devoid of any concern that appellant was armed and dangerous. The sole reason for the patdown was to gather evidence of identification.
- A fair reading of Terry v. Ohio, and its reference to the lower court opinion in State v. Terry show that the "frisk" allowable upon a proper showing was " ‘. . . only a "frisk" for a dangerous weapon. It by no means authorizes a search for contraband, evidentiary material, or anything else in the absence of reasonable grounds to arrest. Such a search is controlled by requirements of the Fourth Amendment, and probable cause is essential.’ " (Terry v. Ohio, supra, 392 U.S. at p. 16, fn. 12 [20 L. Ed. 2d at p. 903, fn. 12.) Our own Supreme Court has unanimously so held. (People v. Lawler (1973) 9 Cal.3d 156, 161 [pat-down search "only" for weapons].) If stare decisis means anything (and it does) and if the word only means only (and it does), the trial court was required to grant this suppression motion as a matter of law. (Auto Equity Sales, Inc. v. Superior Court (1962) 57 Cal.2d 450.) — 145 Cal.App.4th at 788
- "Know Your Rights! What to Do if Questioned by Police, FBI, Customs Agents or Immigration Officers" (pdf). National Lawyers Guild, S.F. Bay Area Chapter; ACLU of Northern California; American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. August 2004. Retrieved 2012-02-07.
- "Your Rights and the Police". ACLU of Northern California. Retrieved 2012-02-07.
- ACLU "Bust Card" What To Do If You’re Stopped By The Police
- ACLU Know Your Rights When Encountering Law Enforcement
- 10 Rules for Dealing with Police from FlexYourRights.org, a 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit organization.
- California Codes
- Colorado Revised Statutes
- Nevada Revised Statutes
- New York Legislature Source for New York State Laws
- Stop-and-Identify Laws from Police Chief magazine
- Suspects Who Refuse to Identify Themselves from Police Chief magazine
- The Identity Project: Hiibel
- When Do You Have to Give Your Name at the RNC Protests? An analysis of New York's "stop and identify" law.