Skip to comments.Withholding Identity From a Law Officer: Your Right or Not?
Posted on 03/23/2004 6:10:30 AM PST by wallcrawlr
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Do you have to tell the police your name? Depending on how the Supreme Court rules in a case before it Monday, the answer could be the difference between arrest and freedom.
The court took up the appeal of a Nevada cattle rancher who was arrested after he told a deputy that he had done nothing wrong and didn't have to reveal his name or show an ID during an encounter on a rural highway four years ago. Larry Hiibel, 59, was prosecuted under a state statute that requires people to identify themselves to the police if stopped "under circumstances which reasonably indicate that the person has committed, is committing or is about to commit a crime."
The case will clarify police powers in the post-Sept. 11 era, determining whether officials can demand to see identification whenever they deem it necessary.
Nevada Senior Deputy Attorney General Conrad Hafen told the justices that "identifying yourself is a neutral act" that helps police in their investigations and doesn't -- by itself -- incriminate anyone.
But if that is allowed, several justices asked, what will be next? A fingerprint? Telephone number? E-mail address?
"The government could require name tags, color codes," Hiibel's attorney, Robert Dolan, told the court.
At the heart of the case is an intersection of the Fourth Amendment, which protects people from unreasonable searches, and the Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. Hiibel claims both of those rights were violated.
Justice Antonin Scalia, however, expressed doubts. He said officers faced with suspicious people need authority to get the facts. "I cannot imagine any responsible citizen would have objected to giving the name," Scalia said.
Justices are revisiting their 1968 decision that said police may briefly detain someone on reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing, without the stronger standard of probable cause, to get more information. Nevada argues that during such brief detentions, known as Terry stops after the 1968 ruling, people should be required to answer questions about their identities.
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor pointed out that the court has never given police the authority to demand someone's identification without probable cause that they have done something wrong. But she also acknowledged that police might want to run someone's name through computers to check for a criminal history.
Hiibel was approached by a deputy in May 2000 next to a pickup truck parked off a road near Winnemucca, Nev. The officer, called to the scene because of a complaint about arguing between Hiibel and his daughter, asked Hiibel 11 times for his identification or his name. He refused, at one point saying, "If you've got something, take me to jail."
Hiibel was convicted of a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest. He was fined $250.
(Excerpt) Read more at startribune.com ...
The courts are too busy inventing new "rights" (e.g., abortion and gay sex) to protect the ones we already have.
You may exercise your privacy only at the expense of babies' lives, not at the expense of the authority of the State.
But a name really isn't identification - too easy to give them someone elses. So do we have to provide a drivers license? Those are pretty easy to fake - especially if you use an out-of-state one the officer wouldn't be familiar with. So I guess we have to give any officer who wants it our fingerprint? That would i.d. us - with a national fingerprint database of course.
NO! They charged him with resisting arrest according to the article. That makes even less sense. Unfortunately the courts, particularly the "conservitive" judges never find a police state action that they can't accept.
That's irrelevant to whether he was obligated to identify himself.
I would have locked the guy up too.
On what charge?
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