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Do I have to show ID to a cop for no reason?

So if a cop just walkes up to me and demands identification and I am not doing anything, do I have to give it to him or her? I know this issue was going to the supreme court, does anyone know if it has been resolved by now? If so, please post an answer, or a link to a news article or something. It would be great to clear this up.
You know how it is, half of the lawyers out there claim that you don't have to provide ID, the other half say you do. Everyone has been citing obscure little clauses to support their side. The supreme court was working on this, or so I heard in a previous indymedia article. So do you or don't you have to provide ID at random times? If I am walking downtown, whistling to myself on the way to the grocery store, and a policeman comes running up and says "Hey kid! Give me some identification right now!" do I have to do it or not? I mean, realisitically, I probably do, since a cop told me I had to and cops are the law. But legally, in theory, do I or don't I?
Thanks to anyone who knows and could post an answer!

Nope 21.Mar.2004 20:39


You do not have to provide identification.

If you have commit an infraction of any level, however, the cop can take you into custody to confirm your identity. Having identification is the easiest way to avoid this.

It is not an additional offense if you do not provide identification, unless you are driving.

my understanding 21.Mar.2004 21:43


My understanding is that you are required to identify yourself, but you are not required to provide a legal ID card. If you are arrested, then the police will try to confirm your identification and if you gave them a false name in the first place, things can go badly.

Thanks, but 21.Mar.2004 22:06


But does anyone know which case I am referring to? It was on Indymedia some time in the past few weeks, it was about some guy who got the cops called on him for allegedly beating his teenage daughter, although it turned out they were just yelling at each other, as parents and kids are prone to do. The cop tackled the guy, and when it turned out they couldn't charge him for domestic abuse, since that part was just a misunderstanding, they charged him with failure to identify, and he took it to court, and it wound up in the US supreme court. Supposedly, the results were supposed to have been decided some time in the last few days. Does anyone know about this?

// 21.Mar.2004 22:09


You are NOT required to give ID. You are NOT required to identify yourself.

You are NOT required to carry ID. (except while driving a car)

If you are being hassled, ask the officer if you are being detained or arrested. If the answer is no, then you have no obligation whatsoever to talk to police in any regard and you certainly do not have to identify yourself. If you are being detained or arrested, then you are required to give your identity and address/ph#. After that you do not have to answer a single question.

Remember, the police are not your friends. They are legally allowed to lie to you. Never trust them.

Many times police have used peoples comments against them. DO not talk to police.

Thanks again 21.Mar.2004 22:17


Thanks for the info, it is good stuff to know. But I would really like to know what the outcome of that supreme court case was.

Coming Up 21.Mar.2004 22:33

decline to reveal

from the March 22, 2004 edition -  http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0322/p02s01-usju.html

If police ask who you are, do you have to say?
The Supreme Court weighs a Nevada law that requires suspects identify themselves when requested by police.

By Warren Richey | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

WASHINGTON - The American tradition of liberty is such that citizens generally do not have to justify their existence by producing government-issued identity papers whenever ordered to do so. This is why moves to establish a national identity card have never gotten off the ground.

But what happens when a police officer believes you might be involved in a crime and asks your name as part of the investigation? Do you have to answer?

That is the question before the US Supreme Court Monday, as the justices consider whether a Nevada law requiring suspects to identify themselves whenever requested by police violates constitutional protections of privacy and freedom from self-incrimination. The case is significant because it gives the court a chance to more closely define how deeply law-enforcement officials may intrude into private lives.

If the court establishes a bright-line rule barring police from forcing such disclosures, it will highlight a new focus by the justices on individual liberty. If, on the other hand, the court upholds the Nevada law, it could prompt other states and the federal government to adopt similar tactics amid heightened concern about possible terrorist activities within the US.

The case arises at a time when it has become virtually impossible to board a commercial airliner for a domestic US flight without first producing some form of government-issued ID.

Under Nevada law, a citizen must reveal his or her name to a police officer who has reasonable suspicion that the person might be involved in a crime. Even if the suspect is innocent, the mere act of refusing to identify oneself is - itself - a crime.

Analysts say the law creates a legal irony. If the police officer possessed enough evidence to place the suspect under arrest, the suspect would be given a Miranda warning that he or she had the right to remain silent. But if the police officer possessed only reasonable suspicion - not the higher standard of probable cause needed to justify an arrest - a suspect could be arrested and convicted merely for refusing to identify himself.

"Why should a criminal have more rights than an innocent person?" asks Harriet Cummings, a Nevada public defender who is part of the team challenging the law.

The issue stems from the case of Larry Hiibel, who in May 2000 was arrested and convicted of hindering a police investigation solely because he refused to identify himself to a deputy sheriff.

The incident took place at a roadside in Humboldt County, Nev. A concerned citizen called the sheriff's department to report a man striking a female passenger in a pickup truck. When police arrived, the sheriff's deputy found Mr. Hiibel standing outside the truck with his minor daughter sitting inside.

Based on the earlier tip, the deputy had reasonable suspicion to believe Hiibel was involved in striking the girl. To further his investigation, the deputy asked Hiibel his name. Hiibel refused to answer, saying he didn't believe he had done anything wrong.

Eleven times the deputy asked Hiibel for his name. After the 11th refusal, the deputy placed Hiibel under arrest for resisting a police officer. Hiibel was convicted of violating Nevada's disclosure law. A state appeals court and a divided Nevada Supreme Court upheld his conviction.

In urging the US Supreme Court to overturn his conviction, Hiibel and his lawyers argue that police are free to ask a suspect any questions they want, but the suspect does not have to answer.

A law that can send someone to jail for refusing to speak violates both Fourth Amendment privacy protections and Fifth Amendment guarantees against being compelled to make incriminating statements, they say. "It is inimical to a free society that mere silence can lead to imprisonment," writes James Logan, a Nevada public defender and one of Hiibel's lawyers, in his brief to the court.

The Nevada Attorney General's Office counters that the state's interest in investigating crimes outweighs Hiibel's interest in keeping his identity private. "A person does not have a Fourth Amendment right to refuse to identify himself when detained on reasonable suspicion," says Conrad Hafen, senior deputy attorney general, in his brief. Asking someone's name is a minimal intrusion, Mr. Hafen says. Rather than forcing a suspect to make incriminating statements, repeating one's name does not provide evidence of a crime but merely assists an investigation, he says.

"Though the name may link the person to an outstanding warrant, it does not compel the person to inform the officer that he has an outstanding warrant," Hafen says. "A person's name is more like a fingerprint, voice exemplar, or handwriting analysis. It is used by law enforcement to identify the person."

Experts in electronic privacy disagree. "A name is now no longer a simple identifier: it is the key to a vast, cross-referenced system of public and private databases, which lay bare the most intimate features of an individual's life," says Marc Rotenberg, in a friend-of-the-court brief filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

The US Supreme Court in prior cases has upheld pat-down and vehicle searches by police operating on reasonable suspicion. Supporters of the Nevada law say the act of asking and revealing one's name is far less intrusive than being frisked.

One resource 21.Mar.2004 22:38

Little Wing

You might find this resource helpful in your search: FindLaw.com

You do not have to 22.Mar.2004 08:59

carry or show ID

unless you are driving a car. Be aware, though, that some Portland police officers think they can take you in for an ID check even though state law prohibits arrests for violations. Violations (such as jaywalking, failure to obey traffic laws when on a bicycle, etc.) are not crimes and are not punishable by imprisonment or subject to arrest. The only time they can legally take you in for an ID issue is if you refuse to show your license during a traffic stop (driving a car) or they have probable cause to believe you have provided them with false ID (that's a crime). Also, lately, they have been arresting some protestors for "Interfering with a Peace Officer" when those persons have refused to show ID when stopped by the police either for no reason or for committing a violation in the officer's presence. As far as I know, legal challenges for this have been successful.

well, hell yes, you're required to show ID 22.Mar.2004 12:46

when we demand it of YOU!

WHY? Cause we're THE COPPERS and we'll stomp your miserable ass if you don't give it up
when one of us ask it of you. Simple as that!

my experience 22.Mar.2004 13:07


i was arrested in portland for riding my bicycle on the sidewalk in front of city hall. the police officer, one Brett Wilkinson, demanded i produce identification. i had none. i identified myself and he arrested me anyway for intereferring with a "peace officer". this guy is an asshole, granted, and a liar. NEVER TRUST THE POLICE IS RIGHT! say as little as possible to avoid arrest is my advice. also, after appearing in court all charges were dropped to violation level and I didnt have to pay a fine. i do have a record now though. i hope somebody reads this who knows wilkinson and can tell him what an ass he is and a disgrace to the human race. looking for a better a answer to this question myself. i will recount what the judge said to me when i asked him this exact question: it is not illegal to not have ID. it is prolematic however, if a police officer asks you for it and you dont have it.

while it is true that you cannot be "run in" for simply not having ID, if an officer asks your name, address, phone #, and you do not provide, this IS enough to detain you and arrest you. so, you figure it out - you dont have to have it, but if they ask for it, and you dont have it, you're screwed.

On Refusing to ID Yourself 22.Mar.2004 21:55

Dr Pork

Everyone knows cops are abusive, intrusive, lying assholes and they are NOT our friends. The courts need to stop leaning towards giving these assholes the right to harrass us just because they can...we are headed towards a police state already.

on the news 23.Mar.2004 02:21

tonight, they

made mention of the supreme court ID case (didn't catch the whole story), and the last bit was about how officers ask for ID because "they need to know who they're dealing with." MY ASS.
They no more need to know who they're dealing with than to know the latin name of the bushes and trees nearby, or the concrete manufacturer of the sidewalk you're standing on! Or how many stars are in the universe! The bottom line is PRIVACY. Their need to know stops where your privacy rights begins, and certainly a person who has broken no laws has no obligation to go around telling personal information to anyone who asks!!! By them demanding that every single person that they talk to show ID, just shows that they don't know what the f___ they're doing, as a real cop will know if a person has broken the law or not (and therefore should show ID). Asking for ID arbitrarily just shows how unskilled they are, and that we shouldn't trust them and feel safe with them in charge of public safety.

heres the case 23.Mar.2004 12:09


also an article in todays oregonian about this story. heres a link to the case. there is also video of the incident flosting around the net.


High Court to rule on police requests for ID

Personal privacy, cops' investigative powers at odds
March 23, 2004


WASHINGTON -- Is it illegal to refuse to tell police your name? That's a topic being debated by the Supreme Court.

The justices heard arguments Monday in a first-of-its kind case that asks whether people can be punished for refusing to identify themselves.

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 based on his silence and finds himself at the center of a major privacy rights battle.

The case will clarify police powers, determining whether law enforcement officials can demand to see identification whenever they deem it necessary.

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.

In other news Monday, the court:

Refused to hear an appeal that questions the conduct of a federal judge involved in lawsuits over the FBI siege of the Branch Davidian complex near Waco, Texas, in 1993.

Refused to hear an appeal over contaminated meat that sickened 60 patrons of two Sizzler restaurants and killed a 3-year-old girl.
The court did not comment in turning down a request from Excel Corp., a meat company that supplied restaurants with contaminated beef four years ago. The Wichita, Kansas, company wanted the justices to overturn a Wisconsin appeals court that had held the meat company responsible for an outbreak of E. coli.

Refused to revive a lawsuit filed by the fisherman who rescued Elian Gonzalez and demonstrators and neighbors of the shipwrecked Cuban refugee's Miami relatives.

Agreed to consider a health funding dispute between the government and two Indian tribes, a case with about $100 million at stake nationwide.

Refused to intervene in a case testing the delicate issue of judicial recusals. An appeals court had said that a California judge appeared to be biased against people who protested logging and reassigned the demonstrators' lawsuit.

Refused to hear a copyright fight concerning Tarzan storybooks. The court rejected an appeal from heirs of illustrator Burne Hogarth, who wanted a share of the rights to "Tarzan of the Apes" and "Jungle Tales of Tarzan," both published in the 1970s and based on the character created by author Edgar Rice Burroughs.

no you don't, but you should 23.Mar.2004 14:29


You re not reqired to show the cops ID, but they can handcuff and detain you til they find out who you are.

that depends 23.Mar.2004 14:37

know your rights

I'd say you shouldn't show your id. I never have and never will. We must remember that the police *can* do anything they want, but it's not legal for them to do so. If you refuse to give your name and you are arrested they have violated your rights. If the fear of being arrested causes you to give your id then you have given up your rights. Don't give up your rights, make the cops violate them and take them to court.