Failure to Identify in Texas | Do You Have to Identify Yourself to Police?

Oct 25, 2018 @ 2:51 PM

A few years ago, actress Danièle Watts made the news after refusing to identify herself to an LAPD police officer. How would she have fared in Texas? What is failure to ID in Texas? The answers may surprise you.

Do I have to identify myself to the police in Texas?

According to Texas Penal Code 38.02, a person must identify themselves by giving a valid name, address, and date of birth to a police officer who has lawfully arrested them. Notice, you have to be under arrest for this to apply.

In Texas, if you are not under arrest, you do not have to identify yourself. You can simply decline to provide your name and date of birth. Likewise, if you are being detained, but not under arrest, you are not required to identify yourself to police. This is why most officers who stop a motorist ask for license and registration, which provides them with the information they want without having to ask for it.

But what if an officer approaches you and you’re not driving a vehicle? Again, if you are not under arrest, you are under no legal obligation to provide your name or other identifying information.

What constitutes the offense of Failure to Identify or Failure to ID in Texas?

If you are under arrest, and the arrest is lawful, it is a crime to not provide identifying information to police. Failure to identify yourself when an officer has lawfully arrested you is a Class C misdemeanor offense in Texas, which is punishable by a fine of up to $500. This same offense rises to a Class B misdemeanor if you fail to identify yourself to an officer who has lawfully arrested you and you have a warrant out for your arrest.

What can happen if you lie about who you are?

In Texas, it is a crime to intentionally give an officer false or fictitious identifying information when the officer has:

  • lawfully arrested you;
  • lawfully detained you; or
  • has good reason to believe you are a witness to a crime.

Giving false information is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and up to a $2,000 fine. It is important to point out that the crime here wasn’t failing to provide identifying information, but rather, it was falsifying the information that was provided. For example, if you are being detained and intentionally gave a false name or an address that didn’t exist, you could be charged with failure to identify.

What if there is a warrant out for your arrest?

If you have a warrant out for your arrest, the punishment is increased one level. A Class C misdemeanor for refusing to identify yourself becomes a Class B misdemeanor. A Class B misdemeanor for providing false information becomes a Class A misdemeanor.

Contact Us

If you have been charged with failure to identify, or failure to identify fugitive in north Texas, call us at (817) 203-2220 for a complimentary strategy session. Our team of former prosecutors and Board Certified Criminal Lawyers are here to help. During this call we will:

  • Discuss the facts of your case;
  • Discuss the legal issues involved, including the direct and collateral consequences of the allegation; and
  • Discuss the defenses that apply to your plan and in general terms discuss our approach to your case.

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Also published on Medium.