More Stop & Identify

A reader tried posting this comment without success, so I’m pasting in here.

To underscore your third conclusion, “if police cannot require a person to identify himself, they do not have the authority to seek, as an end in itself, whether the person is carrying identification,” under Brown v. Texas (1979), if there is no suspicion of a citizen committing misconduct then the police cannot require a person for identification. To quote the court:

“This appeal presents the question whether appellant was validly convicted for refusing to comply with a policeman’s demand that he identify himself pursuant to a provision of the Texas Penal Code which makes it a crime to refuse such identification on request…. The application of Tex. Penal Code Ann., Tit. 8, § 38.02 (1974), to detain appellant and require him to identify himself violated the Fourth Amendment because the officers lacked any reasonable suspicion to believe appellant was engaged or had engaged in criminal conduct.[3] Accordingly, appellant may not be punished for refusing to identify himself, and the conviction is Reversed.”

In regard to Californian law, if a Terry stop occurs, officers may require written ID if a detainee has it in his possession; refusal to furnish it reduces the authority of the officer and is considered obstruction. To quote the District Attorney of Almeda County (, “Based on Long and the cases we cited with it, it is still the law in California that a detainee’s refusal to disclose his name or furnish written ID if he has it constitutes a violation of Penal Code § 148(a)(1) which, like the Nevada statute, makes it unlawful to willfully delay or obstruct an officer in the performance of his duties.”

In People v. Long (186 Cal. App. 3d 216; 230 Cal. Rptr. 483; 1986), the court found, “At the outset, we recognize that defendant manifested and possessed a reasonable expectation of privacy in the contents of his wallet contained in his pocket … Nevertheless, it was reasonable for the officer to require that defendant produce identification from his wallet. … The voluntary display of identification is a routine experience for most of us. Measured against the substantial need for securing 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. We do not imply that an officer may always insist on written identification from a detained individual who has orally identified himself. Much depends on the circumstances. In the instant case defendant’s oral statement of his name was suspect when he insisted that he had no identification on him while he appeared to be carrying a wallet and, in addition, appeared to be intoxicated.”

“May require written ID if a detainee has it in his possession” is still premised on police conducting a lawful Terry stop and does not itself require that a person carry identification.  (Thanks, JU)

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