It is not out of the ordinary for a police officer to ask someone to provide
their name and identification, most often in the form of a government
issued ID card. This information may be asked either as part of a criminal
investigation or because they need the information to determine if the
person they are speaking with has a violent or criminal history. Under
the Texas Penal Code, someone can be charged with failure to identify
if they have already been lawfully arrested.
When is failure to identify a crime?
When a suspect has been lawfully arrested, they are required to provide
identifying information to law enforcement. When they are lawfully detained,
a suspect is permitted to choose not to self-identify, but can be charged
with a crime if they falsely identify. To be detained means that a suspect
will likely be released once the situation is under control, while an
arrest means the officers will inform the suspect that they will be going
to jail. In addition, being stopped for a traffic violation is tantamount
to an arrest, since you are issued a citation and sign it in exchange
Failure can identify can occur when:
- Any person refuses to give their name, residence, and date of birth when
they have been arrested and this information has been requested; or
- Any person gives a false name, residence, and date of birth to an officer
that has lawfully arrested, detained, or requested this information in
connection with a criminal activity.
Depending on the prior criminal history of the person being questioned,
they may be charged with a Class B misdemeanor. A Class A misdemeanor
will be charged only when the people failing to identify is considered
a fugitive from justice.
It is important to remember that there is no legal requirement to provide
identifying information to a police officer unless a lawful arrest has