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True or False: You must show ID when asked by police

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Photo Credit: Flickr/fairfaxcounty

True or False: You must show ID when asked by police

By Carolyn Hauck on April 14, 2015

Whether you’re on foot, on a bike or in a car, it’s important to know your rights when you’re approached by a police officer. In fact, many of us don’t really understand our rights in dealings with police officers beyond the right to remain silent; a situation we see repeatedly portrayed on TV and in movies.

“Reasonable suspicion”

Police officers must have “reasonable suspicion” in order to stop you. Sometimes this can be a murky situation for both the officer and person involved. If you feel you’ve done nothing wrong, one way to tell whether or not you need to present ID is to ask the officer whether you’re being detained or if you’re free to go. If he or she answers that you’re free to go, you can walk away calmly, without presenting identification.

But officers do have the right to ask for your ID if they feel justified to do so. As a criminal attorney on JustAnswer explains, the police have the right to identify you and check to see if there are any active warrants for your arrest. He also confirms that they cannot randomly stop you and ask for your ID, that they need a reason first. Police are permitted to arrest criminal suspects who refuse to identify themselves.

Immigration status

Non-U.S. citizens are required to carry identification papers on them at all times. If you do not have your immigration papers on you, you should ask to remain silent.

Final verdict? True. You must show ID when asked by the police.

Do you know the full extent of your rights? Talk with attorneys on JustAnswer to find out when it’s ok to have your car, house or person searched and when it’s not; if or when you need to discuss your immigration status; or what to do when or if you’re arrested.