Stop and identify statutes
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States (colored red) in which Stop and Identify statutes are in effect as of February 20th, 2013.
“Stop and identify” statutes are statutory laws in the United States that authorize police to legally obtain the identification of someone whom they reasonably suspect has committed a crime. If there is no reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed, is being committed, or is about to be committed, an individual is not required to provide identification, even in “Stop and ID” states. In Utah v. Strieff (2016), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the officer’s stop of Strieff and demand for identification was unlawful under Utah state law, but that the evidence collected pursuant to the stop was admissible due to the determination that Strieff was subject to a pre-existing arrest warrant. Therefore, the pre-existing warrant “attenuated” the unlawful stop-and-identify.
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and requires any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause. Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968) established that it is constitutionally permissible for police to temporarily detain a person based on reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed, and to conduct a search for weapons based on a reasonable belief that the person is armed. The question whether it is constitutionally permissible for the police to demand that a detainee provide his or her name 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 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 law requiring “credible and reliable” identification had been struck down for vagueness.
1 Police–citizen encounters
1.2 Reasonable Suspicion
2 Obligation to identify
2.1 Variations in “stop and identify” laws
2.2 Interaction with other laws
2.3 Interpretation by courts
2.4 Recommendations of legal-aid organizations
3 Other countries
4 See also
6 External links
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 that 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 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, however some states such as Arizona have specifically codified that a detained person is not required to provide any information aside from their full name.
Main article: Arrest
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.