When you have an encounter with the police because you’re suspected of a crime, you may have the urge to be anonymous, to talk to them a little, but to avoid telling them who you are or showing them identification. Whether or not you’ve done this before, we’ll tell you right now that it’s crossed many people’s minds. Often the thinking is, “If I don’t tell the cops who I am, I can’t get in any trouble.” While this may seem like a reasonable step to take, does it really work?
If you’ve ever wondered if it’s okay for you to avoid identifying yourself when you’re suspected of committing a crime, we’ll tell you right now that it’s downright illegal to do that. If the police have lawfully arrested you and you fail to identify yourself, you are guilty of “failure to identify” under Section 38.02 of the Texas Penal Code.
Failure to Identify Under Sec. 38.02
Under Sec. 38.02 of the Texas Penal Code, you commit the offense of failure to identify when you intentionally refuse to give your name, residential address, or date of birth to a police officer who has lawfully arrested you and is asking for this information.
“What if I give someone else’s name or someone else’s address to the police?” If you give a police officer false information, such as a false name, residential address, or birth date to a police officer who as lawfully detained or arrested you, and the officer requested such information, once again, you commit an offense under Sec. 38.02.
When someone fails to identify themselves to the police after a lawful arrest, or when they fail to give their name, date of birth, or home address, they commit a Class C misdemeanor. On the other hand, lying about one’s identity is worse. When someone gives a fictitious name, address, or birth date, they commit a Class B misdemeanor offense.
- A Class C misdemeanor is punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.
- A Class B misdemeanor is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and by a fine not to exceed $2,000, or both a fine and incarceration.