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Man Arrested for Refusing to Show Drivers License 1972

NMerriam writes "Michael Righi was arrested in Ohio over the weekend after refusing to show his receipt when leaving Circuit City. When the manger and 'loss prevention' employee physically prevented the vehicle he was a passenger in from leaving the parking lot, he called the police, who arrived, searched his bag and found he hadn't stolen anything. The officer then asked for Michael's driver's license, which he declined to provide since he wasn't operating a motor vehicle. The officer then arrested him, and upon finding out Michael was legally right about not having to provide a license, went ahead and charged him with 'obstructing official business' anyways."
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Man Arrested for Refusing to Show Drivers License

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  • by king-manic ( 409855 ) on Monday September 03, 2007 @12:59PM (#20452861)
    And it smells like a lawsuit. I don't think either the police or the store is going to go unscathed.
    • by CrankyFool ( 680025 ) on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:38PM (#20453347)
      The store may not come away unscathed, but it's likely the police officer (really, his department since it's likely a law suit would be against the department rather than against the individual officer) is likely covered.

      Barring a specific law against requiring to show driver's license (and the person in this case has so far found an absence of a law requiring showing the ID, not a law specifying you do not have to show ID), an argument could be made that if a police officer is investigating a potential crime, they have the right to ask for identification from relevant parties.

      Now, I'm not saying "an argument could be made" in the sense of "I'm a layman and I'm just talking shit" here -- I'm saying that in the sense of "an argument's already been made to the Supreme Court, and they said it was reasonable." In other words, there's already case law, determined at the highest levels, saying it's reasonable to ask for ID, and it's reasonable to convict someone of impeding the police for refusing to show ID. See HIIBEL v. SIXTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT OF NEVADA -- tml []

      • by jnik ( 1733 ) on Monday September 03, 2007 @02:13PM (#20453821)
        It's reasonable to ask for ID; it is reasonable to require someone to identify himself. It is not reasonable to require identification. [T]he Nevada Supreme Court has interpreted the instant statute to require only that a suspect disclose his name. It apparently does not require him to produce a driver's license or any other document. If he chooses either to state his name or communicate it to the officer by other means, the statute is satisfied and no violation occurs.
        • by drmerope ( 771119 ) on Monday September 03, 2007 @08:15PM (#20457863)
          This went to the US Supreme Court. The Hiibel case law is as follows:

          * If the police ask your name you must give it, but you cannot be compelled to give any supporting documentation.
          * The majority also stated that if someone was convicted of a crime as a consequence of giving their name that the issue could be reconsidered under a Fifth Amendment challenge but that such a challenge did not apply in this particular case.
  • by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:01PM (#20452881) Homepage Journal
    Maybe the man was just ARRESTED by Circuit City's low low Labor Day sale prices and considered them to be a STEAL!

    Feel free to pummel this post and/or me(or add your own!)
  • by RagingFuryBlack ( 956453 ) <> on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:03PM (#20452913) Homepage
    ...A lawyer just smiled, from ear-to-ear.
  • by Fox_1 ( 128616 ) on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:06PM (#20452937)
    Link to coverage of this elsewhere []

    Here is another blog that for the moment isn't dead and has the story.

  • RTFA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CrashPoint ( 564165 ) on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:08PM (#20452981)
    Every time one of these stories comes up, there's always a bunch of idiots who claim something to the effect of "But the store has the RIGHT to ask for your receipt". This is true but entirely beside the point. The point of contention is that the guy also had the RIGHT to refuse to show the receipt, and to walk right the fuck out of the store with his newly purchased property. The store did NOT have any right whatsoever to detain the guy.

    If you're going to argue against this guy, do yourself a favor: Don't argue the store was within their rights to ask for the receipt. Nobody's arguing with that, and you're a moron who can't fucking read if you think they are. Instead you need to make a case for why they were right to prevent him from leaving, because that, and only that, is what is being contended here.

  • by RandyOo ( 61821 ) on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:11PM (#20453019) Homepage
    A few people contacted me wanting to know if I was accepting donations for my legal fund. Donations would be greatly appreciated. If more
    funds are raised than are actually needed I will donate the excess to the ACLU. Donations can be made via PayPal to:

    Today was an eventful day. I drove to Cleveland, reunited with my father's side of the family and got arrested. More on that arrested part to come.

    For the labor day weekend my father decided to host a small family reunion. My sister flew in from California and I drove in from Pittsburgh to visit my father, his wife and my little brother and sister. Shortly after arriving we packed the whole family into my father's Buick and headed off to the grocery store to buy some ingredients to make monkeybread. (It's my little sister's birthday today and that was her cute/bizare birthday request.)

    Next to the grocery store was a Circuit City. (The Brooklyn, Ohio Circuit City to be exact.) Having forgotten that it was my sister's birthday I decided to run in and buy her a last minute gift. I settled on Disney's "Cars" game for the Nintendo Wii. I also needed to purchase a Power Squid surge protector which I paid for separately with my business credit card. As I headed towards the exit doors I passed a gentleman whose name I would later learn is Santura. As I began to walk towards the doors Santura said, "Sir, I need to examine your receipt." I responded by continuing to walk past him while saying, "No thank you."

    As I walked through the double doors I heard Santura yelling for his manager behind me. My father and the family had the Buick pulled up waiting for me outside the doors to Circuit City. I opened the door and got into the back seat while Santura and his manager, whose name I have since learned is Joe Atha, came running up to the vehicle. I closed the door and as my father was just about to pull away the manager, Joe, yelled for us to stop. Of course I knew what this was about, but I played dumb and pretended that I didn't know what the problem was. I wanted to give Joe the chance to explain what all the fuss was for.

    I reopened the door to talk with Joe and at this point Joe positioned his body between the open car door and myself. (I was still seated in the Buick.) Joe placed his left hand on the roof of the car and his right hand on the open car door. I asked Joe if there was a problem. The conversation went something like this:

    Me: "Is there a problem?"
    Joe: "I need to examine your bag and receipt before letting you leave this parking lot."
    Me: "I paid for the contents in this bag. Are you accusing me of stealing?"
    Joe: "I'm not accusing you of anything, but I'm allowed by law to look through your bag when you leave."
    Me: "Which law states that? Name the law that gives you the right to examine my bag when I leave a Circuit City."

    Of course Joe wasn't able to name the law that gives him, a U.S. citizen and Circuit City employee the right to examine anything that I, a U.S. citizen and Circuit City customer am carrying out of the store. I've dealt with these scare tactics at other stores in the past including other Circuit Cities, Best Buys and Guitar Centers. I've always taken the stance that retail stores shouldn't treat their loyal customers as criminals and that customers shouldn't so willingly give up their rights along with their money. Theft sucks and I wish that shoplifters were treated more harshly than they are, but the fact is that I am not a shiplifter shoplifter and shouldn't have to forfeit my civil rights when leaving a store.

    I twice asked Joe to back away from the car so that I could close the door. Joe refused. On three occasions I tried to pull the door closed but Joe pushed back on the door with his hip and hands. I then gave Joe three options:

    1. "Accuse me of shoplifting and call the pol
    • by TheRealMindChild ( 743925 ) on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:46PM (#20453445) Homepage Journal
      I could be talking out of my ass, but I am speaking from what little experience I have working at a retail toy store. I was always told that we were NOT allowed to approach anyone for suspicion of theft UNLESS we had witnessed that said person had stole something. Even then it wasn't so cut and dry. For instance, little old ladies would put things in their huge carpet bag only to take it out when they got to the register. Aside from that, even cops need "Probable Cause" to start digging in your things, without a warrant. Acting shady or being an asshole isn't Probable Cause. At best it would be "Reasonable suspicion", which only does the men in blue any good if you are in a school or other govt building. But I am not sure that this even applies, because Best Buy are not the cops.
  • by VidEdit ( 703021 ) on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:15PM (#20453069)
    First, he didn't have to show his receipt or open the bag containing **his** property for the Circuit City door monitor. Unless you are shopping in a membership store where you signed a contract allowing such searches they are **voluntary**

    Security consultant Chris E. McGoey notes:
    "A customer can refuse to have their bag checked and simply walk out the door past the bag checker. Hopefully the bag checker has been trained to know that they cannot force anyone to submit to a bag search without cause. This is important because the expectation of the bag checker is that all bag contents have been purchased. The worst thing that could happen is that an aggressive bag checker would forcibly detain or threaten a customer who refused to comply with the voluntary search." []

    Sure, it would have been easier to submit to a search, but stores use the force of conformity as a method of social engineering to get you to comply. A voluntary search isn't voluntary unless you can say no without negative consequences, otherwise the search is **coerced**. The effectiveness of this social engineering will be seen in the comments of people who will say he should have just shown his receipt. These people show their receipts and, based on innate human behavior, think that everyone should behave as they do and that not to do so is to be unreasonable. But where should it stop? If you think the store had a right to make him show a receipt and have his bags searched--contrary to law--why not make him take his shoes off and let them inspect his wallet? They have **just as much right** do do that as search his bags, which is to say, "none."

    Not showing your receipt when you don't have to may seem like a trivial gesture but clearly it is not. The OP was within his legal rights and as a result was arrested. Most of us are unwilling to face those kind of consequences to stand up to our everyday rights. He was not. I hope he brings awareness to the over zealous use of searches by private business acting like they are the government with police powers.

    As to the arrest for failing to show his license. The OP was the one who called the cops and they arrested **him**, not the store personnel who were unlawfully detaining him in the parking lot! Idaho state law specifically says he just has to identify himself to the officer not show ID, and he isn't required to have an ID on him! To all of those who say he should have been arrested for not showing ID do you think that would also apply if he hadn't been carrying one? If not, why is it any different to arrest him just because he did?

    • by kimvette ( 919543 ) on Monday September 03, 2007 @02:01PM (#20453673) Homepage Journal
      Correct - I looked into this because I was once assaulted at a CompUSA because I saw kids shoplifting, wearing jackets in the middle of summer and walking out unchecked, and the doorman asked to see my bag. I refused, saying "why are you harassing paying customers? If you do not trust your cashiers you need to be watching them, not harassing me." He then yanked the bag, drawing blood. Okay, he assaulted me, and I have physical proof - I now had the right to defend myself and physically disable him. I snap kicked him in the nuts, grabbed the pressure point in his wrist, and yelled for the manager. I explained what happened, and calmly said "Now, we can do one of two things: one, you can press charges for shoplifting without seeing my bag, and THEN you may check the contents and my receipt. If you are wrong, I WILL be pressing charges for unlawful arrest, assault, AND sue the store for defamation. Two, you can make this jerk apologise and then fire him on the spot."

      Well, he knew I know my rights, he saw that the guy drew blood, and he has seen me in the store before buying high-ticket items (although after that episode the most I've spent at that store is $20, and scored advertised freebies on the day-after-thanksgiving loss leader specials) and he made the guy apologise and informed him that he was fired. Calling the police was deemed unnecessary. At that point I did give him the decency of showing him the bag and receipt, only to underscore my point. I then asked why I, a paying customer was harassed and assaulted, while teenagers are walking in, stuffing their bulky jackets, and then walking out unchecked.

      Depending on your state, the store does NOT have the right to search your bags without cause, EVEN if clearly posted, unless you pay a fee and sign an agreement containing those terms - such as BJs, Costco, Sam's Club, etc. - when you walk into your store you do not give up your rights as an American citizen. Of course that was the 1990s, and all of that has changed now under Bush's administration; one is presumed guilty until proven innocent since 09/11.

      Also, regarding drivers' license: depending on your state you may not EVER have to hand it to a police officer. That is the case here; I was once pulled over for passing in a passing zone - LEGALLY, in my Corvette. There was PLENTY of room to pass, but I did it uphill. An officer I saw two cars behind (I saw him behind before I passed - I thought nothing of it because it was a legal passing zone) pulled me over. He was a rookie - he asked for my license and registration. I SHOWED them to him. He asked me to hand them to and I told him I will not; it is my right to refuse to hand it to him, but I DO have to show it to him upon request if I am a driver and pulled over, so I am obliging to the law and showing it to him. He then asked if I knew why I pulled him over, so I said "I presume speeding, however, while passing I did not exceed the speed limit. As you know, that woman was hindering the flow of traffic, driving more than 10 under." Well, he proceeded to inform me he pulled me over because he does not think that passing zones should be legal, and that were I driving a Ford Escort, or even the Ford Crown Vic he was driving, I would not have made it passing uphill. I then entered smartass mode and replied "Well, this car isn't a clown vic, is it? I regret to inform you that despite your preferences, passing zones are legal, so write me up, and then you can follow me to the station a half mile down the road and we'll have a nice long chat with your supervisor." Well, of course he did not write me up, and saw that I had a spotless driving record for the previous 7 years (except for a "fix it" tag because I was pulled over in an MR2 I refused to get inspected - I now get my cars inspected because it has become a moving violation, not just a fix it tag and small fine). I've seen him around town since then and he's actually been downright friendly. I think he was just having a bad day or something, or he was gung-ho since he was a rookie, but I had
  • In Soviet Russia... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mr_Icon ( 124425 ) on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:40PM (#20453377) Homepage
    No, this is not a troll post. :) In Soviet Russia, most stores had the following system (and some still do to this day):

    1. You find an item that you want to buy. Sometimes it's behind the counter, so you can't really reach it, only ogle it from afar.
    2. You go to the cashier's booth and pay for the item. The cashier gives you a check with the sum you paid written on it.
    3. You go back to the counter and give the check to the salesperson, who will then give you the item.

    Horrible, at least from the point of view of client-friendliness, but pretty effective against shoplifting. No, I'm not at all advocating this system -- hell, if some store tried it in America, they'd be out of business by mid-afternoon. I'm just saying that if big chains are that concerned with theft-prevention, then that's the only relatively effective way to solve the problem.
  • Amazing screw up (Score:5, Interesting)

    by spiritraveller ( 641174 ) on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:44PM (#20453421)
    This is supposed to be Cop Law 101 for these guys. Under the seminal U.S. Supreme Court case of Terry v. Ohio, cops can ask you whatever they want, but they cannot force you to answer or to cooperate unless they have reasonable articulable grounds to suspect that you have committed or are about to commit a crime.

    The Circuit City employee was not accusing this fellow of stealing anything. He was simply under the mistaken impression that he could force a customer to comply with a search. What the cop did was an unreasonable seizure, an illegal arrest. What the employee did was false imprisonment. It doesn't matter what the Ohio legislature says about having to show your ID when a cop asks. A legislature cannot override the Federal Constitution. Yes, both the cop, the store employee and the store could be liable.

    I think the guy should sue everyone involved. It has come to be a serious annoyance that every store thinks they can detain you because you had the gall to purchase something from them. One way to educate people is to have a nice fat lawsuit. If Circuit City wants to avoid all the bad publicity this would generate, they can settle for a nice fat sum.
  • Conspiracy? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Quixote ( 154172 ) * on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:46PM (#20453439) Homepage Journal
    I don't possess a tinfoil hat, or buy into conspiracies. But reading the user comments in his blog, I am shocked to see so many people calling him a "douchebag", a "tool", "smartarse", "attention whore", etc.

    I find it hard to believe that there are so many people out there who would willingly bend over and spread their cheeks for anyone in authority who asks for whatever reason. That's such a scary thought, that I'm _hoping_ (and praying, for the future of this country) that it's just a small group of rabble-rousers who are positing those comments.

  • Wowza.. (Score:4, Informative)

    by VValdo ( 10446 ) on Monday September 03, 2007 @01:49PM (#20453501)
    100+ replies and not one mention of Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of Nevada [], which was only 3 years ago.

  • A better way... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SiMac ( 409541 ) on Monday September 03, 2007 @02:16PM (#20453863) Homepage
    Why deal with this by creating a confrontation with officers? Why not simply state, "It is my right not to show what's in this bag. If you want to see it, I'll go back to the register and return it." This seems a lot easier, doesn't get you in trouble with the cops, and still makes your point.
  • by sdedeo ( 683762 ) on Monday September 03, 2007 @02:50PM (#20454371) Homepage Journal
    All praise and kudos to this man. I am not surprised by the outcome w/r/t not showing identification. While there are laws and court rulings that mean that most any situation a law-abiding /.er finds him or herself in will not be legally required to show identification, these are largely ignored. Furthermore, they are very often "judgment call" laws: in other words, courts can later rule that the officer may have been justified (in defiance of reason, not something the courts are unfamiliar with.) Finally, laws vary from state to state. Last time I checked, for example, I was in New York State, and the police were allowed to ask you where you were going, for example, with no justification needed -- you will find yourself in trouble, and actual real non-martyr trouble, for refusing this based on your feeling about what actually is reasonable.

    I am a "privacy nut", but I have long stopped refusing to show identification (or in one case, provide a social security number for a bicycling-on-the-sidewalk ticket) to police officers. It is not worth the hassle. You will get caught up in a massive legal system. The only effective means to prevent this kind of completely illigitmate search/detention is to get involved at the political level. The bare facts of the Constitution in this case will not help you. This is in contrast to first-amendment type things, which the courts remain pretty firmly in favor on, and also tend to attract a great deal more press attention and public sympathy beyond /. YRO.

    Circuit City, on the other hand: obviously, no kind of political action will change that. If I had "ubersmarts" in a stressful moment, I would have done exactly as this man did, but then showed my ID to the police officer. The problem, and /.ers who don't already know need to know this, is that when you are in the middle of a confrontation with authorit[y/ies] the situation is incredibly stressful. You need to make a "game plan" ahead of time: figure out exactly what you are and are not willing to do after researching the consequences. Look not only at the laws, but at the actual enforcement of them, and ask yourself if $X is better spent, not on lawyers, but on political advocacy. Our nation, great as it is in many ways, has ceased to follow crucial portions of its mandate -- people need to be more strategic.

    Again, just to be clear: I fully support this man's decisions. They are not the decisions I would have made, but they are legitimate, noble and American.
  • by HardWoodWorker ( 1032490 ) on Monday September 03, 2007 @05:28PM (#20456275)
    After reading this, I stopped what I was doing and decided to write a letter to Circuit City, letting them know that my next purchase won't be with them (I was thinking about spending 3k this year to replace my ancient TV and get a home theater). Write them at =1 [] and let them know what you think. I think it's absurd to spend huge quantities of money (generally in the thousands) and deal with mediocre prices, idiot minimum-wage workers, and harassment.

    Best Buy in Lincoln Park, IL did something like this to me once. I waited 40 minutes in line to return a home theater kit (big box w/ many parts) Because the dimwit teenager at the door didn't give me a sticker, one of the assistant managers (think Farva from SuperTroopers) seized my box and told me that I'd be arrested for shoplifting. I presented them with my receipt and he told me "stop playing games." I tried calmly explaining many times that I've been waiting in line to return this crappy home theater unit, but he accused me of buying one the day before, walking into the store w/ nothing but the receipt, taking one (apparently opening & unwrapping the 20+ components, untying the 10 cables or so, putting batteries in the remote, etc), and trying to return the unbought, yet opened, one. I tried to be nice and tell him that there was a mixup and explained to him that when I walked in I went from the door to the customer service line and have been patiently waiting to return the defective home theater system (amp, dvd player, + 5 speakers & cables) the entire time. He kept accusing me of playing "mind games," to quote him. After awhile, I told him to check his surveillance tapes and he told me he was unable to do so. Eventually, I called 911 on them and the police officers took my side and told them to either demonstrate that I was shoplifting or to handle my return.

    In the end, they gave me a crappy $50 gift card and dirty looks. The manager kept using that "there's a lot of thieves this time of year" crap and talking to me like I was a criminal who just got away with stealing their merchandise. I regret not telling him off and telling him to focus on the thieves and not harassing their legitimate customers in the most inept way possible (I was more concerned about getting back to work since I did this on my lunch break). I did nothing wrong. I did nothing unusual. I even was wearing business causal clothes (I was in my late 20s, working at a yuppie job, behaving like a typical Lincoln Park yuppie). I don't care about their mistake. I'm really angry at their arrogance and ineptitude in handling the situation. I even sympathize with them not wanting their stuff stolen. However, if you're going to accuse me of stealing, at least do the effort to determine if I'm actually stealing. The store manager, the one who talked to me like I was a master thief who just pulled off another caper, kept ranting about the hid who was supposed to put a sticker on my box, who wasn't at his desk when I walked in, blaming the whole thing on him.

    I called their corporate office and let them know. Last I heard, the assistant manager was fired. I don't wish for anyone to go through what I went through.
  • by SmoothTom ( 455688 ) <> on Monday September 03, 2007 @06:22PM (#20456801) Homepage
    ...Yeah, they are for Target, but notice especially the REQUIREMENTS about allowing a customer to leave or to have been actually observed stealing. -directives-revision-01-2006.html []

    The person arrested here did NOT break the law, and should not have been arrested.

    The store manager and Asset Protection person DID break the law, and the police officer seriously bent it if not actually breaking it.

    I doubt a city attorney will choose to prosecute the person arrested.


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