Failure to Disclose Identity
Updated – August 16, 2020
- Overview – Overview of the code, the charge, overuse and legal interpretations of it.
- The Code – The exact legal language used to define the public offense.
- Related Code – Additional code that applies to the public offense.
- Elements of the offense – A breakdown of each element of the offense that is required to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in order to find a person guilty of the offense.
- Common defenses
In order to better understand the offense of failure to disclose identity we first have to know when a police officer is allowed under the law to detain and question an individual and demand his name. For this we must look at Utah Code 77-7-15, Authority of peace officer to stop and question suspect — Grounds.
Utah Code 77-7-15 states police may stop any individual in a public place when the officer has a reasonable suspicion to believe the individual has committed or is in the act of committing or is attempting to commit a public offense and may demand the individual’s name, address, date of birth, and an explanation of the individual’s actions.
Although it indicates when a police officer has the authority to demand this information, the actual public offense of Failure to Disclose Identity only requires a person to provide name and date of birth. Other information such as an explanation of actions, address, identification card, drivers license, social security number, etc, is not required to be disclosed. All that a person must provide is their name and date of birth, unless they were driving. If a person was driving and suspected of committing a public offense, person must provide Driver’s License. If the person is a passenger and not suspected of a crime, passenger does not need to provide name nor driver’s license.
If person is stopped by an officer and is not suspected of a public offense, person is not required to provide name or any other information. Police usually still ask for name, address, and date of birth in order to run a warrants check on individuals even when they are not suspected of a crime. When you provide this information when not legally required, they assume you have given it voluntarily and this allows officers to search your name for any warrants you may have for unpaid tickets or any other frivolous warrant that you may have not been ware of. This opens the possibility for you to go to jail.
Keep in mind that police officers are promoted by the number of people they put in jail and the tickets they give so be careful when interacting with police
(1) A person is guilty of failure to disclose identity if during the period of time that the person is lawfully subjected to a stop as described in Section 77-7-15:
- (a) a peace officer demands that the person disclose the person’s name or date of birth;
- (b) the demand described in Subsection (1)(a) is reasonably related to the circumstances justifying the stop;
- (c) the disclosure of the person’s name by the person does not present a reasonable danger of self-incrimination in the commission of a crime; and
- (d) the person fails to disclose the person’s name or date of birth.
(2) Failure to disclose identity is a class B misdemeanor.
See the link below for any updates on the code.
Utah Code 76-8-301.5
A peace officer may stop any individual in a public place when the officer has a reasonable suspicion to believe the individual has committed or is in the act of committing or is attempting to commit a public offense and may demand the individual’s name, address, date of birth, and an explanation of the individual’s actions.
See the link below for any updates on the code.
Utah Code 77-7-15
Elements of the offense
Each and every one of these elements must be proved before a person can be found guilty of the offense. In the absence of this proof, the person shall be acquitted.
Person must have been lawfully subjected to a stop as described in Section 77-7-15 – Authority of peace officer to stop and question suspect.
Police officer must have demanded the person disclose their name or date of birth.
Demand must have been reasonably related to the circumstances justifying the stop.
The disclosure of name or date of birth does not present danger of self-incrimination in the commission of a crime.
Person fails to disclose name or date of birth.
The most common defense is that police did not have the right to demand that a person disclose their identity. If the person was not suspected of a public offense, they are not obligated to disclose their name or date of birth.
Police many times claim that innocent behavior is seen as “suspicious”. That is not legally sufficient to force an individual to disclose their identity but many cops pressure a person into complying after numerous threats of arrest. This can later be contested at court and result in the charge being dismissed.
Another obscure defense is if the person by disclosing their identity would present a danger to self-incrimination in the commission of a crime.
A Utah Highway Patrol Trooper stopped a vehicle for an improper lane change and asked both the driver and George Matthew Martinez, a passenger, for identification. The trooper ran a warrant check and learned that Martinez had an outstanding arrest warrant. The officer searched Martinez incident to his arrest and discovered a glass pipe with methamphetamine residue inside. The State charged Martinez with possession of a controlled substance, but the district court granted Martinez’s motion to suppress the evidence due to the Fourth Amendment violation of requesting Martinez to provide ID and conducting a warrants check without reasonable suspicion that Martinez had committed or was about to commit a crime.
The Supreme Court of Utah reviewed the case and concluded…
This case presents a single issue: does a law enforcement officer violate the Fourth Amendment if she requests that a passenger voluntarily provide identification and then runs a background check on that passenger without reasonable suspicion that the passenger has committed—or is about to commit—a crime?
We conclude that an officer does not violate the Fourth Amendment if she does so.
…we conclude that Trooper Horne’s voluntary interaction with Martinez did not violate Martinez’s Fourth Amendment rights.
Police may ask, and many times demand information which you are not required to provide. There is a distinction made in court when an individual provides information voluntarily or when they are legally compelled to do so. One can mean self-incrimination and the latter may be a violation of rights and result in the evidence against them not to be legally admitted in court.