In the above video, a news videographer is standing on public property when approached by a cop who demands his identification (starting at 1:40).

The videographer refuses to provide his identification on the grounds that he is not doing anything illegal.

The cop, of course, gets irritated and calls for more cops.

But the videographer continues to refuse. And he continues to film, much to the dismay of the cop who comically places his hat in front of the lens.

Did the videographer have the legal right to refuse to provide ID?


But only because he was not being lawfully detained (the key word being “lawfully” as the officer did tell him he was being detained at 4:20).

After several minutes of bullying, the videographer was allowed to leave without producing his identification because they really had no reasonable suspicion to detain him.

However, he was ordered to leave the area when it is clear from the video that other civilians are casually strolling the same area. That was another unlawful order.

But at that point, he probably didn’t want to push his luck.

He was in Texas, after all.

Contrary to what some might believe, there is no federal law mandating that we must provide identification when asked by police.

However, several states have “stop and identify” statutes that require people to produce identifications if they are being legally detained. And police can only legally detain you if they have a reasonable suspicion you have committed or are about to commit a crime.

Texas recently joined the ranks of states that have these statutes. And the following 24 states also have stop and identify statutes, according to Wikipedia.

Alabama Ala. Code §15-5-30

Arizona Ari. Rev. Stat. Tit. 13, Ch. 24-12 (enacted 2005)

Arkansas Ark. Code Ann. §5-71-213(a)(1)

Colorado Colo. Rev. Stat. §16-3-103(1)

Delaware Del. Code Ann., Tit. 11, §§1902, 1321(6)

Florida Fla. Stat. §856.021(2)

Georgia Ga. Code Ann. §16-11-36(b) (loitering statute)

Illinois Ill. Comp. Stat., ch. 725, §5/107-14

Indiana Indiana Code §34-28-5-3.5

Kansas Kan. Stat. Ann. §22-2402(1)

Louisiana La. Code Crim. Proc. Ann., Art. 215.1(A)

Missouri Mo. Rev. Stat. §84.710(2)

Montana Mont. Code Ann. §46-5-401

Nebraska Neb. Rev. Stat. §29-829

Nevada Nev. Rev. Stat. §171.123

New Hampshire N. H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §594:2

New Mexico N. M. Stat. Ann. §30-22-3

New York N. Y. Crim. Proc. Law (CPL) §140.50 (1)

North Dakota N.D. Cent. Code §29-29-21 (PDF)

Ohio Ohio Rev. Code §2921.29 (enacted 2006)

Rhode Island R. I. Gen. Laws §12-7-1

Utah Utah Code Ann. §77-7-15

Vermont Vt. Stat. Ann., Tit. 24, §1983

Wisconsin Wis. Stat. §968.24

The Wikipedia entry breaks down police interactions into three categories; consensual, detention and arrest.

A consensual interaction is no different than an interaction between two civilians on the street. It gives the cop the right to ask the civilian questions, but it also gives the right for the civilian to refuse to answer those questions, including providing identification.

A detention interaction is where a person is being legally detained, meaning the officer needs to have some sort of reasonable suspicion that the person is involved in a crime. This is generally known as a “Terry Stop.” In the states that have stop and identify laws, the person could be arrested for refusing to provide identification.

The arrest interaction is when police have probable cause to arrest a person, which requires more evidence than mere reasonable suspicion. This, of course, allows the officer to search the person for identification once the arrest is made. If the suspect does not have identification, it could be illegal to refuse to identify oneself depending on the jurisdiction. You might remember last year’s article about a New Hampshire man who spent several weeks in jail for refusing to provide his real name.

Some police apologists might argue that if a person refuses to provide identification during a consensual argument, then that automatically turns it into a detention interaction because it gives the cop reasonable suspicion that he is trying to hide something.

But even an article written by a senior legal advisor from the Plano, Texas Police Department published in The Police Chief, described as the “Professional Voice of Law Enforcement,” confirms that an officer must be engaged in a Terry Stop before he can demand identification.

To further confound things, the rules supposedly differ when a person is operating a vehicle because state laws usually require people to produce identification upon request.

But even that has been challenged by a couple of Arizona activists who were arrested after refusing to comply with authorities after having been stopped at Border Patrol check points, including one who recently had his charges dismissed.


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It only takes a couple of minutes. Think of all the time I spend updating this damn blog. It would be well appreciated.