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Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court


An officer developed reasonable suspicion that the defendant was involved in an assault. He approached the defendant, explained he was investigating a crime, and asked to see the defendant’s identification. The defendant refused the officer’s eleven requests to see his identification. The officer arrested the defendant for violating a state law that prohibited “obstructing a public officer in discharging…any legal duty of his office.” The legal duty that the defendant obstructed was a statute that provided “[A]ny person so detained (Terry stop) shall identify himself, but may not be compelled to answer any other inquiry of any peace officer.”


Whether the state statute is constitutional in that it requires persons to identify themselves during a Terry stop?


Yes. “Stop and identify” statutes do not change the nature of the seizure itself and the information obtained typically satisfies a significant governmental interest.


The Fourth Amendment requires all seizures to be reasonable. Reasonableness is determined “by balancing its intrusions on the individual’s Fourth Amendment interests against its promotion of legitimate government interests.” Delaware v. Prouse. The Court held that the state statute satisfies this standard. The statute does not change the character, duration or location of a stop and the officer’s demand for identity had an immediate purpose for the Terry stop.

The defendant’s Fifth Amendment argument failed to persuade the Court because disclosure of his name presented no real danger of incrimination. The Court has previously determined that the Fifth Amendment privilege only covers those communications that are testimonial, compelled, and incriminating. The defendant’s “refusal to disclose his name was not based on any articulated real and appreciable fear that his name would be used to incriminate him.”


542 U.S. 177, 124 S. Ct. 1494 (2004)

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