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U.S. Supreme Court: Public Anonymity No Right 1492

Anonymous Arrestee writes "Today the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that anybody can be compelled at any time to identify themselves, if a police officer asks. People who refuse to identify themselves, even if they are not suspected of a crime, will be arrested. Sound Orwellian? The Supreme Court also said people who are suspected of another crime might not be subject to arrest for not revealing their name. On this latter point, someone will have to bring a separate case. And the SCOTUS is at liberty not to hear any case it doesn't like. The case is Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of Nevada [pdf]. Previous Slashdot story here."
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U.S. Supreme Court: Public Anonymity No Right

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  • by Etcetera ( 14711 ) * on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:38PM (#9490642) Homepage
    From a link:

    In upholding his conviction and the mandatory identity-disclosure law, the majority justices also said the law only requires that a suspect disclose his or her name, rather than requiring production of a driver's license or other document.

    This bodes well -- it would seem to put the kibosh on any effort to turn this into a "must produce your National ID card on demand" ruling.

    A name is a name (Jack Brown), and gives the officer something to call you besides "Hey You", but as long as we're not required to produce some sort of definitive, unique-identity-signifying number of the beast, I'm not too worried.

    • by jeffkjo1 ( 663413 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:45PM (#9490708) Homepage
      If all I have to give is my name, then I'm not particularly concerned. Just make up a name that doesn't sound too suspiciously bland (like John Smith) I think my new police officer name just became Bryan Wendy.

      Of course, I will continue to list my address as
      1060 West Addison
      Chicago, Illinois

      And my social...
      078-05-1120 [wired.com]
    • by gl4ss ( 559668 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:54PM (#9490794) Homepage Journal
      according to http://papersplease.org/hiibel/index2.html it went like this:


      Meet Dudley Hiibel. He's a 59 year old cowboy who owns a small ranch outside of Winnemucca, Nevada. He lives a simple life, but he's his own man. You probably never would have heard of Dudley Hiibel if it weren't for his belief in the U.S. Constitution.

      One balmy May evening back in 2000, Dudley was standing around minding his own business when all of a sudden, a policeman pulled-up and demanded that Dudley produce his ID. Dudley, having done nothing wrong, declined. He was arrested and charged with "failure to cooperate" for refusing to show ID on demand. And it's all on video.

      On the 22nd of March 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Dudley's case, a case that will determine whether Dudley and the rest of us live in a free society, or in a country where we must show "the papers" whenever a cop demands them.

      so what the hell? did the court decide? that his quilty but it's still not alright to ask for the id????

    • by tooba ( 710518 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:58PM (#9490829)
      Although this ruling does not directly lead to such an outcome, it does make it a lot easier to pass a "produce your papers" law farther down the road. I have always been under the impression that I could not be compelled to answer an officer's questions without my lawyer present. Why should asking for my name be any different? Can I get in trouble for providing an alias? What use is this ruling if I still dont need to identify myself if it would be self incriminating? Under what circumstances would a police officer demand my identity if not to arrest me? And if I am suspected of no crime, does it make sense that simply not giving my name can turn me into a criminal? Are prisons not already overcrowded? To anyone willing to give up their rights and the rights of their countrymen in order to make catching terrorists easier, I say shame on you. You are helping to destroy what was once a noble human experiment. The ideals that the United States were founded on are what I like about my country. It seems ironic that the leaders of this country would ask me to give up my freedom to protect my freedom. Maybe they're working with Al Queda. As soon as personal rights are completely eroded, they can just march in and institute a Christian/Islamofascist dictatorship in order to protect me from the terrorists. Why should I trust George Bush or Joe Sherriff with any more power than absolutely necessary? Power is just too easy to abuse.
  • by Faust7 ( 314817 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:38PM (#9490644) Homepage
    People who refuse to identify themselves, even if they are not suspected of a crime, will be arrested. Sound Orwellian?

    "What's your name?"
    "Rutherford is an unperson."
    "Ogilvy's a dead war hero."
    "To Miniluv with you!"

    The Supreme Court also said people who are suspected of another crime might not be subject to arrest for not revealing their name.

    "You are under suspicion for extreeeme bestiality."
    "Uh, no."
    "What's your name?"
    "Forget it."
    "To Miniluv with you!"
  • by Pave Low ( 566880 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:40PM (#9490652) Journal
    Today the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that anybody can be compelled at any time to identify themselves, if a police officer asks.

    No, that is just not correct. The court held that police, based on reasonable suspicion that a person is involved in criminal activity can compel him to identify themself.

    This ruling doesn't change the fact that police just can't ask to for your name for no reason at all. At least get the facts right in your own damn summary before going off on "your rights".

    • by Lord Kano ( 13027 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:44PM (#9490705) Homepage Journal
      The court held that police, based on reasonable suspicion that a person is involved in criminal activity can compel him to identify themself.

      If you are "suspected" of conspiracy to delay or obstruct a peace officer, the police would then have the reasonable suspicion necessary to ask for your identity.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:56PM (#9490806)
      At least get the facts right in your own damn summary before going off on "your rights".

      The job of the editors is to post stories which generate hits to the site. Slashdot plays the self serving FUD game just as well as your favorite evil mega-corp.
      Facts are dead, long live hype.
    • by maxpublic ( 450413 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:57PM (#9490816) Homepage
      This ruling doesn't change the fact that police just can't ask to for your name for no reason at all.

      That doesn't change the fact that the officer in question is the sole person responsible for deciding whether or not you're "under suspicion" for some crime...a crime which may be invented after the fact.

      Unless you've snorted enough crack to think that all police officers are nice, law-abiding citizens. In which case let's pause while I laugh my ass off.

      • by Jafafa Hots ( 580169 ) on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @01:10AM (#9492132) Homepage Journal

        I had that happen to me - I was sitting on church steps with a girl and cops pulled up and demanded ID. I truthfully told them that I didn't have any ID. I was cooperative, asked them if they wanted us to leave, etc.

        I was arrested. Only after I was finally released hours later and got to read the arrest report did I find out that I was apparently being charged with "disorderly conduct" and "refusal to comply with a police order to disperse."

        Bottom line is, if a cop wants to fuck with you just for the sake of fucking with you, he can - and the Supreme Court just made it easier for them.
    • by c0dedude ( 587568 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @10:23PM (#9491039)
      No, actually, they can [slashdot.org]. If you refuse, you will likely be arrested because it is suspicious that you aren't giving your name. Combined with Terry stops, this makes facist-style checkpoints very easy, and in the information age, one could track the movements of a citizenry. Remember the true meaning of Catch-22: They can do whatever we don't prevent them from doing.
  • Dudley Hiibel's side (Score:5, Informative)

    by po_boy ( 69692 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:41PM (#9490671) Homepage
    Here's a link to Dudley Hiibel's side of the story: http://papersplease.org/hiibel/ [papersplease.org].

    Thanks for fighting for my rights, Mr. Hiibel!
  • Implications (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sglider ( 648795 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:42PM (#9490680) Homepage Journal
    Unfortunatly, the unknowing average citizen believes that since they have nothing to hide, they shouldn't have a problem giving a policeman their identification. This in turns allow the powers that be to further ask for other information, such as, "What are you doing around here", and "Where are you going?" These in of themselves are rather harmless questions, but if we aren't careful, we can recreate Nazi Germany rather quickly. The ability to move about anonymously and not have to be on the defensive about who and where we are are inherent rights, and I can't see legal justification for making the innocent prove who they are and the guilty (or in this case, suspected of another crime) get away with not having to identify themselves. We are supposed to a people that believe in 'innocent until proven guilty', and not 'give in to everything the government wants' because its supposedly 'for our own good'.
  • by isomeme ( 177414 ) <cdberry@gmail.com> on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:43PM (#9490689) Homepage Journal
    I think it's very kind of the Supremes to provide such a simple way out of this otherwise intrusive situation. If a police officer asks you for your name, simply inform him or her that, as you are wanted for another crime, you would prefer not to give your name. See how easy that is? I love this country!
    • by Herkum01 ( 592704 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @10:15PM (#9490976)

      Brings about an interesting "AH-HA" experience with consulting. Be prepared to address problems up front so that they cannot bring them up later. This is the best example I have heard of this,

      The wife is in bed and the man brings 2 aspirin and a glass water. The wife says, 'I don't have a headache!'

      I hope you get the idea now.

  • Down Under (Score:5, Informative)

    by martinX ( 672498 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:43PM (#9490695)

    Now I am surprised! Here in the land Down Under, we have always been compelled to identify ourselves to police. Name and address, but there's no ID card requirement.

    There is also a charge for giving police a false name.

    Try this for a start [qld.gov.au].

    Or Google [google.com]

    • Re:Down Under (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Siergen ( 607001 ) on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @12:09AM (#9491827)
      It's a common requirement throughout most of the world to identify yourself upon request of the police. However, since the U.S. only just started doing it, then it's proof that Bush=Hitler, time to break out the tin-foil hats, etc...
  • by RyanFenton ( 230700 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:44PM (#9490698)

    I doubt there's anyone in America that could not be charged and convicted of a real legal offense that exists on the books somewhere in America in a given week. This isn't some nebulous concept of sin - I'm speaking of real laws that exist.

    Still - the thought of being arrested for just walking around without a wallet, or not wanting to tell a strange officer your name is going further into the "oh, come on" realm.

    I can imagine many ways to spin this both ways. Drunk people can be charged for even more crimes now if they get caught ashamed and unwilling to name themselves. So can plain embarassed or even crazy people.

    Still - the judges had to decide based on the issues handed to them. I'd have preferred greater freedom here, but as a matter of law, they may be correct that this isn't a constitutional requirement. Always strange how legal decisions get made.

    Ryan Fenton
  • catch-22 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QEDog ( 610238 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:44PM (#9490703)
    So, they ask for your name, you refuse to tell them. They arrest you. If they arrest you, you have the right to remain silent, so you don't have to tell them your name.

    To have the right not to tell them your name you have to get arrested?

    Am I the only one that things this is hilariosly messed up logic?

    • Read the opinion (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Carnage4Life ( 106069 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:57PM (#9490814) Homepage Journal
      The argument of the Supreme Court is that your name doesn't incriminate you unless there are extenuating circumstances so asking you to identify yourself doesn't violate your 5th ammendment rights.
      • by theLOUDroom ( 556455 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @10:58PM (#9491330)
        The argument of the Supreme Court is that your name doesn't incriminate you unless there are extenuating circumstances so asking you to identify yourself doesn't violate your 5th ammendment rights.

        Right, but his point is their the supreme court has just made remaining silent an arrestable offense.
        The police don't even need a "plausible" enough suspicion that you've comitted a crime to arrest you on. Their "suspicion" can be absolute B.S. but now they can arrest you just for not giving your name.

        The ruling is just plain stupid. If they REALLY have good cause to believe you've commited a crime, they can arrest you whether you identifiy yourself or not.
  • by No Such Agency ( 136681 ) <abmackay@gmail.REDHATcom minus distro> on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:48PM (#9490734)
    "There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws."
    - Ayn Rand, "Atlas Shrugged"

    Also, a number of Philip K. Dick's books addressed the power of the drug war to instantly criminalize somebody, a power which oculd be used selectively against dissenters and political troublemakers. This is another example of a law which can be used selectively - the police choose who to ask, thus biasing the pool of possible arrestees. Demanding identification under duress - from people you know will be unwilling to provide it - has the benefit that it's all above board, and the ensuing arrests are in the interests of "security".

    "One's identity is, by definition, unique; yet it is, in another sense, a universal characteristic," writes Justice Anthony Kennedy for the majority. "Answering a request to disclose a name is likely to be so insignificant in the scheme of things as to be incriminating only in unusual circumstances."

    Incriminating, no, but it could be intimidating. This is, IMO, dangerously close to saying "if you're innocent, you should have nothing to hide".
  • Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Guspaz ( 556486 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:51PM (#9490770)
    People who refuse to identify themselves, even if they are not suspected of a crime, will be arrested. Sound Orwellian? The Supreme Court also said people who are suspected of another crime might not be subject to arrest for not revealing their name.

    So, lemme get this straight. You're NOT suspected of a crime and refuse to identify yourself, you get arrested. You ARE suspected of a crime and refuse to identify yourself and you DON'T get arrested? That's pretty fucked up.
  • by ozbird ( 127571 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:52PM (#9490775)
    You have the right to ask the police officer for their ID. If you cannot confirm that they are indeed
    a police officer, you have no obligation to give them your ID.
    (However, saying "If you show me your's, I'll show you mine" will probably get you arrested.)
    • by ONOIML8 ( 23262 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @10:23PM (#9491035) Homepage
      You would think that was true. It's logical, right? And it would be the safe thing to do.

      But, it doesn't work that way.

      They are required to give you badge number and maybe a last name. You have no way of knowing if they are legit from that. Zero, zip, nada. You can't tell.

      Not too many years back there was a series of crimes, including at least one rape, that were committed by a man wearing a uniform. He had a badge and a car with a light bar and siren.

      How the hell would you be able to tell the difference?

      For me, it's easy: trust nobody.

    • by maximilln ( 654768 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @10:32PM (#9491116) Homepage Journal
      You have the right to ask the police officer for their ID
      And they have the right to tell you,"You can find it out on the police report which you can pick up at the courthouse prior to your hearing for this ticket for obstruction of justice."

      Don't be naive...
    • by Jafafa Hots ( 580169 ) on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @02:16AM (#9492437) Homepage Journal
      I was at an antiwar protest a few months ago. One of the people near me was being hassled by a cop, so he asked the cop for his badge number.

      The cop said "You want my badge number? HERE'S my badge number!" and he flipped the guy the bird. I had my video camera with me, and I laughed and said to the cop "whoa! Do that again, let me get it on tape!"

      The cop grabbed me by the collar and yanked me toward him and growled at me "you want to get arrested, asshole?"

      You live in a fantasy world, my friend. There are reasons citizens have protections against abuse of power - because people with power often abuse it.

      We just lost one of those protections.
      • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @09:41AM (#9494201)
        Ok, well then what you do is go and present that to IAB, and maybe the civilain review board. They are all about busting the ass of cops that do shit like that. Just because a cop is ignorant of the law, doesn't mean it's not a law and doesn't mean they can't get in trouble for it. That doesn't work, sue the department. If you ahve videotape evidence, it's a lock.

        The problem with abuse of power is that people let it slide. In most cases, there are means to fight back, but people just act helpless and let it go. I'm not saying it'll be a walk in the park, but you can do it.

        The fantasy is thinking that cops can break the law and there is no recours or repercussions. That's just not true. If they do, fight it. I mean if you fell it's not a big deal, fine, but then don't bitch about it later. If it is a big deal and you do feel it's an abuse of power, then work to stop it.

        Protections against abuse only work if those abused use them.
  • Not so fast... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by applemasker ( 694059 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:53PM (#9490788)
    This isn't a blanket license for law enforcement to ask for "papers" or whatnot. To put it in context, the holding is that neither the 4th Amendment right to be free of unreasonable searches or seizures or the 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination protect a citizen against giving their name in conjunction with an "investigative stop." If there was no investigative stop, and a citizen were mere asked to identify themselves, then the result could (and probably would) be different.

    In this case, the police officer came upon a domestic dispute on the side of a roadway when Hiibel refused to identify himself. This is a little different from a cop walking up to you and asking for "papers." Under the circumstances, this request for identification (in the majority's view) is not unreasonably intrusive from a privacy standpoint. At this stage, asking for a name is not like patting him down or searching the car, both of which are more invasive and would require some additional justificaiton.

    Also, before everyone stampedes for Canada, let's keep in mind that although there may not be any Federal Constituional prohibition against this, the States are all free to find that citizens in their jurisdiction enjoy greater state constitutional protection than the Federal provisions at issue here. That said, there is nothing preventing any individual state from a contrary holding under the exact same circumstances.

    Personally, I disagree with the holding, but I am simply offering the rationale. The 5-4 split demonstrates, if nothing else, that reasonable minds can differ on this issue. (Also, the fact that O'Connor again "swings" the Court is interesting..)

    Link to recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions here [findlaw.com].

  • by TomRC ( 231027 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @09:55PM (#9490804)
    It's often a moot point. If you were stopped in your car, they'd have your license number. They would just ask you "Is this your car?" If you say yes, you've identified yourself. If you didn't say it is, and continued to be evasive, they would assume you'd stolen it and arrest you. Same thing if you were in your house and they came to your door. You MIGHT have been safe walking down the street on a public sidewalk, prior to this ruling.

    The idea that you might be able to withhold your name if you are guilty means that remaining silent is automatically a confession - either you're guilty of something else, or you're guilty of withholding your name. The police will ALWAYS arrest you, and find some other means to identify you.

    Also, since the police can arrest you for withholding your name, if you are trying to avoid being arrested for an outstanding warrant, they can hold you indefinitely - simply by asking you your name every 24 hours until you tell them (so they look up your outstanding warrants). Yep - forced self-incrimination.

    My guess is that there will be a future case that gets to the supreme court, where an innocent person in a legal demonstration refuses to give their name, gets arrested, and refuses for weeks to give their name - and gets held by the police without any realistic opportunity to be set free. Then maybe the court will realize what they've done.
  • Terry VS Ohio (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @10:00PM (#9490842) Journal
    This is not as unusual as it sounds. Terry VS Ohio set the standard for frisking, where an officer has the right to search someone if the have any reason to think the person has a weapon on them.

    I am already stopped a couple times a month and have to show my DL at road blocks, in the country side. I don't want this to go too far, granted, but its not as different as what is the practice anyway.

    As I understand the Constitution (and I believe I do), you have the right to express your opinion, be treated the same regardless of race, gender, etc., be free of unreasonable search and seizure (which is argueably not what this is), to not have to testify against yourself, and several other nicities that I agree need protection, always.

    But I don't remember seeing that being anonymous is an absolute right. It is implied, to a degree, with speech in some but not all ways. Commercial speech is different than political speech, for instance. It is implied in that justice should be blind, and treat you the same as everyone else. But not a blanket right to be anonymous in all things.

    If something SHOULD be a Right, but its not in the Constitution, its not a Right. Petition, get sponsors, submit an Amendment, get it ratified by 2/3rds of the states, and its a Right. It's difficult on purpose, for good reason: To keep it from being used frivilously or in the heat of the moment.

    I am not convinced that a Right to be anonymous in all ways is a good thing.
    • Re:Terry VS Ohio (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Grimster ( 127581 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @10:22PM (#9491025) Homepage
      Showing your DL at a road block is one thing, you're on the road driving a car, I don't see it being Orwellian to ask to see your license to drive, HOWEVER if they ask to see the license/ID for a PASSENGER and the passenger declines and then shit gets started that IS getting to be too much. I suppose all they have to say is that the passenger "looked like someone who was wanted for something somewhere so they checked ID" those "probable cause" situations are really abusable by the police...

      Also asking your name is one thing, asking to see ID is another. I don't always have ID on me, last I checked this wasn't against a law to be without an ID of course if I'm DRIVING then I have my license with me because well, that is a law but I don't, say, carry my license with me to go check the mail, or if my wife's driving I don't always have my wallet with me and feel no compunction to make sure I have it either.
  • Not entirely correct (Score:5, Informative)

    by mrbrown1602 ( 536940 ) <mrbrownNO@SPAMmrbrown.net> on Monday June 21, 2004 @10:07PM (#9490903) Journal
    There's one major point most of the "major" media has left out about this ruling. The ruling only applies to the 20 states that have a law which requires persons to produce identification when they're suspected of criminal activity. This ruling does not apply to the other 30 states and the federal government which does not have laws which require identification.

    In other words, this isn't going to turn into an East Berlin style state with cops asking for your papers - which hasn't been made legal by this ruling. You can only be thrown in jail or fined for not giving ID in a state that has a law that dictates that, and that's only in the case of being suspected of criminal activity.
  • by 0x0d0a ( 568518 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @10:26PM (#9491059) Journal
    The problem is that the suspect asked whether he was being arrested, and if so, why. Since this was a Terry stop, he did not recieve Miranda rights protection.

    The problem is that invoking the Fifth Amendment requires knowing that self-incrimination is possible (which is why Hiibel's argument of Fifth Amendment protection was rejected by the US Supreme Court, as he shouldn't have been worried about self-incrimination). There is no real way to *know* whether you are at risk of self-incrimination without a police officer disclosing what they are considering charging you with. This basically renders useless Fifth Amendment protection against releasing identity, even though the US Supreme Court specifically said that the Fifth Amendment *could* apply to releasing one's identity.

    This is a severely broken system. If police have no reason to potentially charge someone, they have no reason to stop them. If they have such a reason, I do not understand why they cannot be compelled to inform the person of what they are being accused of.
    • by GISGEOLOGYGEEK ( 708023 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @10:32PM (#9491118)
      In Canada the police in fact can be compelled to tell you why you are being arrested.

      An immigrant friend o mine put that to the test a few years ago ...

      Pulled over for no reason, the cop asked him to shut off the car and get out of the vehical.

      He shut off the car, put the keys on the roof to show he was going nowhere. But would not get out of the car until he was told why he had to do so.

      Of course that just angered the cop. Cop called for backup. After much time had passed, the cop's commanding officer arrived and put the damn junior cop in his place, and told the driver to have a nice day.

      Why did my friend do this? Because in his home country he had no such rights, and wasn't going to get abused here where the law does protect him.

  • Party Affiliations (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Glamdrlng ( 654792 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @10:30PM (#9491098)
    For those of you keeping track, all 5 supreme court justicies who ruled against Mr. Hiibel (ie, in favor of the state law requiring citizens to identify themselves) were Republicans, nominated by Republican presidents. Both of the Democrats on the Supreme Court were among the minority who ruled in favor of Mr. Hiibel. Election time's coming soon kids!
  • by bersl2 ( 689221 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @10:52PM (#9491272) Journal
    Hiibel did not give a justification for remaining anonymous. Of course, I still don't quite know what made the police officer suspect that Hiibel committed or witnessed assault.

    Anyway, read the last two pages of the decision.
    Still, a case may arise where there is a substantial allegation that furninshing 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 privelege applies.... We need not resolve those questions here.
    That said, I still don't like the decision, and I still don't quite like the actions of the police officer.
  • by wiresquire ( 457486 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @11:00PM (#9491350) Journal
    That's it.

    I'm changing my name to "Fuck Off Pig".
  • by hugesmile ( 587771 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @11:03PM (#9491376)
    I wonder, if you tell the police that your name is Bob Jones (which is just an unusual pronunciation of your actual name F-r-e-d S-m-i-t-h), if that is breaking the law.

    They can't charge you for how you PRONOUNCE your name, can they?

  • miranda (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MrLint ( 519792 ) on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @12:28AM (#9491939) Journal
    if you have the right to remain silent after you are arrested, why cant you remain silent before you are arrested?
  • Case in point (Score:5, Informative)

    by maximilln ( 654768 ) on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @08:54AM (#9493826) Homepage Journal
    The headlines for the newspapers in this area do not read "US Supreme Court rules police can ask for name", they read "US Supreme Court rules police can ask for ID". No matter what the technical ruling of the Supreme Court is, the powers that be are spinning this to spread the impression that a formal, state issued ID is always necessary.

    Take for example: If an officer asks for your name and you give it the officer may ask for ID to prove it. If you fail to produce the ID then you are guilty of obstructing justice. At this point the Supreme Court ruling would not apply because you would indeed be guilty of hindering an investigative action--verification of identity.

    Take for another example: A fellow on the block always mows his lawn at 8 AM on Saturday morning. He likes to get it done before it gets to be 104 degrees outside and also likes to have it out of the way so that he can enjoy the rest of his Saturday. On a particular Saturday the elderly woman who lives two doors down from him isn't feeling well and calls the police for a noise disturbance on Saturday morning. Normally this wouldn't be an issue but the elderly woman is the mother-in-law of one of the police captains. The captain isn't actually on duty but the patrol officers know that he's going to be in a sour mood if he has to come in to work on Sunday after receiving a telephone call from his mother-in-law early Saturday morning. The patrol officers decide that they'll just take a casual cruise by to see what the situation is. They find the guy mowing his lawn and ask him to stop to speak with them. Normally this wouldn't be an issue but the fellow has had a rough week at work and just wants to get the lawn done to go back to bed. The police ask for his name so that they can fill out their paperwork and the fellow quips "John Doe". He doesn't feel that his name should be included on a report for a noise disturbance because 1) he's mowing his lawn, and 2) the police have declined to identify the person who made the complaint. The police ask for his ID to verify his name. He's out mowing the yard and informs them that the ID is IN HIS HOUSE.

    How long can the police detain the man? They certainly don't want to let him go back into his house because then they'll need a warrant to get him to come back out.

    Can the police enter the man's home to retrieve the ID without a warrant?

    From my understanding of (experience with) the law the police can detain the man for as long as they feel like chatting. If the man turns away from the officers to leave they will physically restrain him and possibly charge him with "obstruction of justice". The situation can continue indefinitely until 1) The man calls his lawyer (which he cannot do because he's out mowing the lawn and the cell phone is in the house), 2) the police get bored (they're always bored which explains why they would detain the man to chat indefinitely), 3) the man takes any action which can be misconstued to be hindering the duties of a police officer.

    The stalemate is this: The police will not leave until they have the man's ID. The police will not let the man enter his house to retrieve the ID. The man will NOT give the police permission to enter his house to retrieve the ID.

    The solution: The police detain the man until he becomes agitated enough to turn away and try to walk back into his house. The police reach out to restrain the man and immediately charge him with obstruction of justice and disorderly conduct. At this point the police have just cause to enter his house and retrieve his ID. By this time the man is explosive with rage and the police can lock him up or send him to the psyche ward.

    Honestly, all of this existed before the Supreme Court ruling. The Supreme Court ruling just makes it public debate and shows how some lawyers have far too much free time on their hands.

The IQ of the group is the lowest IQ of a member of the group divided by the number of people in the group.