You’ve been stopped while going about your business in what you assumed was a perfectly ordinary way. Now, there’s a police officer asking for your identification.
Do you have to give it to them?
According to Minnesota Law, a police officer does not have the right to simply request your identification at random–that is, they can’t just come up to you for no reason at all and demand that you tell them (or show them, by displaying your ID) who you are. They also cannot search you without your consent. On the other hand, if they suspect you of a crime, Minnesota police can insist that you show them your ID.
While there is no statute covering this issue, it’s important to comply with the police if you are able. That means that legally speaking, you need not automatically identify yourself just because a police officer asks for it, but if they can give just cause for stopping you, you need to tell them who you are–and you may end up in jail, at least temporarily, if you refuse to comply.
Should You Show Your ID?
In general, if the police ask you to show your ID, you probably should share it with them–even if they have no reason to suspect that you were doing anything illegal. You have the right to ask why you are being detained and what the police officer wants from you. On the other hand, it’s always respectful and reasonable to comply with law enforcement, especially when their request is as simple as wanting you to identify yourself. Consider some of these scenarios:
The police have been summoned to locate a criminal with a vague description. Often, witnesses to crimes may be able to give only vague answers to what the suspect looks like. Unfortunately, that can mean that they need to stop anyone they believe is behaving suspiciously. In some cases, “behaving suspiciously” may be as simple as showing up in the wrong area at the wrong time. By quickly navigating the situation, sharing your ID, and cooperating with the police, however, you can quickly clear up the misunderstanding and keep yourself out of further trouble.
You bear a stunning resemblance to someone on the local police station’s Most Wanted list. Even though you’ve done nothing wrong, the police officer who stopped you thinks that you look like a suspect they need to arrest. By sharing your ID, you can quickly clear up the case of mistaken identity and both you and the officer can go about your day.
The officer believes you may be trespassing. In this case, showing your ID will easily show that you live in the area–or you can let officers know that you have friends and family who live on the property and that you have permission to be there. On the other hand, refusing to show your ID could be seen as suspicious.
If a police officer asks for your ID, move slowly and carefully toward the pocket where you carry it. Don’t make any sudden movements or any movements that could be construed as threatening. Then, carefully provide the officer with the information he asked for, including information about what you’re doing in the area. Often, this is enough to allow you to move on with your day instead of getting stuck in a legal mess. Make sure to comply with the police as much as possible while you are stopped. While the police should not infringe on your rights, simply complying with relatively calm requests could make it easier for you to avoid trouble.
Are you in need of a lawyer after a routine stop–perhaps because you refused to give your ID to an officer when they asked? Contact us today to learn more about how we can provide the defense you need.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Please contact attorney Kirk Anderson for an initial consultation.