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When do I have to show ID?

This is a tricky issue. As a general principle, citizens who are minding their own business are not obligated to “show their papers” to police. In fact, there is no law requiring citizens to carry identification of any kind.

Nonetheless, carrying an ID is required when you’re driving or flying. Driving without a license is a crime, and no one is allowed to board an airplane without first presenting an ID. These requirements have been upheld on the premise that individuals who prefer not to carry ID can choose not to drive or fly.

From here, ID laws only get more complicated. In Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of Nevada, the Supreme Court upheld state laws requiring citizens to disclose their identity to police when officers have reasonable suspicion to believe criminal activity may be taking place. Commonly known as ‘stop and identify’ statutes, these laws permit police to arrest criminal suspects who refuse to identify themselves.

Currently the following states have stop and identify laws: AL, AR, CO, DE, FL, GA, IL, KS, LA, MO, MT, NE, NH, NM, NV, NY, ND, RI, UT, VT, WI

Regardless of your state’s law, keep in mind that police can never compel you to identify yourself without reasonable suspicion to believe you’re involved in criminal activity. Rather than asking the officer if he/she has reasonable suspicion, test it yourself by asking if you’re free to go.

If the officer says you’re free to go, leave immediately and refrain from answering any additional questions.

If the officer detains you, you’ll have to decide whether withholding your identity is worth the possibility of arrest or a prolonged detention. In cases of mistaken identity, revealing who you are might help to resolve the situation quickly. On the other hand, if you’re on parole in California, for example, revealing your identity could lead to a legal search. Knowing your state’s laws can help you make the best choice.

**Keep in mind that the officer’s decision to detain you will not always hold up in court. ‘Reasonable suspicion’ is a vague evidentiary standard, which lends itself to mistakes on the officer’s part. If you’re searched or arrested following an officer’s ID request, always contact an attorney to discuss the incident and explore your legal options.**


Check out this AWESOME site for more info about your rights. The Beat The Heat book is amazing, as well as the Busted! DVD.

AS usual haha :) I <3 u, ACLU!


Identifying yourself: In the state of Maryland you are NOT required to identify yourself in a simple street stop like this. The boy was clearly not “suspicious” or looked like he was involved in crime, so he was not required to identify himself, although stating your name and address could be beneficial depending on the situation. And, while being rude to cops may be stupid, it isn’t a crime, so watch out for police who threaten you with violence if you let something slip. Check the above post for more information.

If you find yourself in this above situation:

-Keep quiet. Say “I’m going to remain silent and I would like to see my lawyer”, and then SHUT UP! Remember, if you say ANYTHING after you say you’re going to remain silent, your cone of protection is nullified and you can be questioned as much as the cops see fit.
-If you feel you’re not allowed to leave, politely ask, “Am I free to go?” and/or “Am I being detained?”. Depending on the answer, decide whether to walk away CALMLY, or to remain silent. If you are being detained, ask for your lawyer, and then shut up.
-If the police ever use physical force, DO NOT RESIST. Simply touching a police officer could be called assault on an officer.
-As soon as possible write down everything that happened. Write names, faces, places, any and every detail you can remember of what was done and said. This can help you file a police misconduct report and possibly help you with your case if you were charged.

Whenever in a police encounter, remember these three phrases:

“Officer, am I free to go?”
“I do not consent to this search”
“I am going to remain silent, and I would like to see a lawyer”

Officer Rivieri is currently on paid suspension pending an investigation.

This is important- I want all LGBT persons to have rights (well, we do, we’re just being denied them), but the policies and such created to protect us from violence and threats ect. should not deny other’s right to free speech at the same time. I’m glad the ACLU brought the first case to court, and now this one too. Even though I do not agree with the religious group involved at all, they have rights too! (Unfortunatly..;) )

ACLU Tells Federal Court It Can Protect Both Gay Students and Free Speech (7/25/2007)


CINCINNATI – The American Civil Liberties Union today told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit that a school policy designed to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students from harassment went too far in squelching the right of some religious students to express their views on homosexuality. The group insists, however, that schools can protect students from anti-gay harassment constitutionally.

“We’ve always believed that it’s entirely possible for schools to enact policies that keep gay and lesbian students safe while still respecting the First Amendment rights of students who hold anti-gay beliefs, said Sharon McGowan, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s national Lesbian and Gay Rights Project. “There’s a huge difference between telling students that they shouldn’t harass or attack others and censorship. Schools have a constitutional obligation to respect all students’ right to be and express themselves.”

The anti-harassment policy was implemented as part of the settlement in a lawsuit the ACLU brought on behalf of Fugett and several other students who were prevented from forming a GSA club at the Ashland, Kentucky high school. The school district agreed to implement a training and policy in 2004 after a federal judge found that there was a widespread problem with anti-gay harassment in the school, including one incident in which students in an English class stated that they needed to “take all the fucking faggots out in the back woods and kill them.”

Present at the courthouse were three of the students who first requested to form a gay-straight alliance club to counter rampant anti-gay harassment at the school in March of 2002. “We wanted to be here for the hearing because we want to remind people what this whole thing is all about,” said Libby Fugett, a former Boyd County High School GSA founding member who is now a college sophomore with plans to attend law school. “Harassment against gay students and their friends is a huge problem at Boyd County High School, and we want the court to remember that all students need to feel safe at school.”

Morrison v. Boyd County Board of Education was brought in 2005 by an anti-gay legal organization, which claimed that the training and policy violated the religious freedom and free speech rights of students who are opposed to it. The ACLU, representing former student plaintiffs in its original case, joined the lawsuit to help defend the school’s ability to conduct the training and to support all students’ free speech rights.

Some parts of the case have already been resolved, with school officials altering the training and policy to better protect students’ First Amendment rights. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit now must consider only whether the original anti-harassment policy went too far. While the ACLU agrees that the original policy overstepped students’ First Amendment protections, the ACLU is asking the court to find that it is possible for the school to adopt an anti-harassment policy that also protects students’ right to free speech.

The case is Timothy Allen Morrison, II, et al., v. Board of Education of Boyd County, Kentucky. The former GSA students are represented by Sharon McGowan and Ken Choe of the ACLU’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project, and David Friedman and Bill Sharp of the ACLU of Kentucky.

[Emphasis added]