Sssh... Hear That?

Listen carefully. Hear that sound? That's your constitutional rights being chipped away.

I'm not prepared to write a comment on the Supreme Court's decision in Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial Dist. Ct. of Nevada. Mostly because I don't have the time.

What you need to know is that if you're stopped by the police, and they ask for your name, you've gotta tell them. Otherwise you can be arrested (depending on your state's statute). Just for not telling them. Scary, right?

So now I've got to stop telling my clients "Don't talk to cops," and instead tell them, "Consult the local statute, and, if in doubt, give your name." Not quite as catchy, really.

If you'd like to read more commentary on the decision, I direct you to other law bloggers who posted on the subject, including CrimLaw, The Volokh Conspiracy, The Shout and SCOTUSblog.


  1. Isn't there a distinction between not having to provide your information to a court of law when you are on trial and having to provide your information to a police officer while motoring, which is not a right?

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  3. I'm not sure I understand your question. But prior to the Hiibel decision, failure to identify yourself could not be a basis for arrest. Now, if your state or locality has a law requiring you to give your name to an officer when asked, failure to do so can be a basis for arrest (as an "obstructing justice" type of crime).

    As for what you have a duty to say in court, I don't think it comes up a lot because by the time you get to court, you've been searched and fingerprinted. Regardless, I believe that you have always had the right to remain silent in court - most people choose to speak through their attorney.