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Do I have to identify myself to police?

On Behalf of | Jul 8, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

A police officer approaches you and asks you for identification. The way that he or she says it, you know that the officer expects you to comply. 

But does that mean that you have to do so? Are you legally obligated to identify yourself just because the officer wants to know who you are?

You may be required to identify yourself in certain situations or places

Typically, you do not have to answer any questions and you have a right to remain silent in Ohio when questioned by the authorities. However, under certain circumstances in public places, you may be legally required to provide your basic identification information. This could include your name, date of birth and address. If you refuse, you may be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor offense. That does not mean you have to answer any other questions, however. 

Identifying yourself is also necessary in many traffic-related incidents, such as when the officer suspects you are under the influence or when you get pulled over for a traffic violation, like speeding. 

Were you arrested after a police officer asked you for information?

One key factor about whether an officer has a right to question you is “reasonable suspicion.” The officer needs to have reasonable suspicion to detain you and prevent you from moving about freely. In theory, this prevents random police stops and unnecessary intrusions.

Whether or not this arrest is lawful just depends on the situation and if the police had reason to ask you to do so in the first place. If they didn’t or if they were outside the scope of the law passed in 2006 requiring identification, then that could be an unlawful arrest. 

You can see how these interactions with police can be complex and contentious. Be sure you are well aware of the legal options you have for your defense.

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