Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Your Papers, Please!


Anonymous said...

I was intrigued by your posting "Your Papers, Please!" and downloaded/read the first few pages of the case syllabus.

Now, I'll start by saying I'm a member of the ACLU and I'm a big privacy nut. However, judging by the circumstances of the situation, Hiibel was in violation of statute because he refused to identify himself after the officer specifically said that he was engaged in investigation.

The ACLU has put on numerous discussions/talks regarding unnecessary traffic stops and casual contact; under most situations you do not have to tell the police anything, unless they tell you specifically why they're interrogating you. At that point, you must identify yourself. When and if the police officer deems given the evidence (visual search of open areas, surrounding,supporting evidence, etc) they'll make a formal arrest and read you your rights, at which point the miranda rules take effect (i.e., right to remain silent, right to attorney, etc)

Remember, the police officer is not at that point looking to arrest you. (S)He's trying to figure out what's going on. If you resist them (Hiibel did it 11 times) they have probable cause to detain you because you did not tell them your name (which is covered in the Nevada statute)

All I'm trying to say is, pick your fights wisely -- this law is for the greater good of the community, and does not unjustly require you to furnish information that you do not wish to give. Your name is your name. The sheriff wanted identification.

Hiibel was clearly matching the description in the final report, driving a vehicle that matched the description in the initial complaint, in suspicious circumstances (leaving tire marks where the vehicle had suddenly stopped) with the man standing outside, visibly intoxicated, while the female occupant was still sitting in the cab of the vehicle.

Given those circumstances, I think any person would be suspicious of the gentleman in question. If I were you, I'd be much more concerned about the patriot act, with things like wiretaps without warrants, before worrying about the nevada statute saying that a person must identify themselves if there's probable cause to suspect they were involved in a crime.

Just my two cents (and posting anonymously so I don't have to sign up for a blogger.com membership)

God of Mischief said...

As it happens, I agree with you. The Supreme Court actually invited opportunities to expand this decision. The city of San Jose has an ordinance that you must present identification upon demand. Maybe they could supply the test case.

As I read the decision, a simple statement of your identity is enough and the fact that an officer demands it under the law is prima facia evidence that he suspects you of something. That's when the Fifth amendment kicks in.

Now if a police officer were to simply politely ask, I might be inclined to tell him (or not as the spirit moved me) and be far more likely to give more information.

As it happens, though, if a cop thinks I'm suspicious, the best tact it to frankly tell me what he suspects.

Maybe some day when I have a lot of money and time I'll get an opportunity to test them. (But probably not because I'll be in a privately owned county in Montana.)