Failure to Identify in Texas | Do you have to identify yourself to the police?

 In Criminal, Versus Texas Criminal Law Blog

Django Unchained actress Danièle Watts made the news in 2014 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 with a valid name, address, and date of birth to a police officer who has lawfully arrested them. Notice that the person must be under arrest for this to apply. In Texas, if you are not under lawful arrest, you do not have to identify yourself.

You can simply decline to provide your name and date of birth. This is why most officers who stop a vehicle ask for your license and registration, which provides them with the information they want without having to ask you for it. However, imagine a situation where an officer approaches you and you’re not driving a vehicle. If you are not under arrest, you are under no obligation to provide your name or other identifying information.

You do not have to provide your name, date of birth, or address to an officer unless you are under lawful arrest. In other words, even if you are lawfully detained, but not under arrest, you are not required to provide officers with identifying information.

Failure to Identify | Failure to ID in Texas

If you are under arrest, and the arrest is lawful, it is a crime to not provide identifying information. 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 is a Class B misdemeanor if you fail to identify yourself to an officer who has lawfully arrested you, if at the time of the arrest there was also a warrant out for you.

Is it an offense to lie about who you are? | Failure to Identify

In Texas, it is a crime to intentionally give an officer a 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.

Assuming there is not already a warrant out for your arrest, this is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and up to a $2,000 fine. Notice the crime here wasn’t failing to provide identifying information, it was falsifying the information that was provided.

What if there is a warrant out for your arrest? | Failure to Identify – Fugitive

If you are under arrest, and the arrest is lawful, it is a crime to not provide identifying information. Failure to identify yourself when an officer has lawfully arrested you is a Class A misdemeanor offense in Texas, if at the time of the arrest there was already a warrant out for your arrest.

In Texas, it is also a crime to intentionally give an officer a false or fictitious identifying information, while there is a warrant out for your arrest, when the officer has:

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

Assuming there is not already a warrant out for your arrest, this is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and up to a $2,000 fine.

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.

You can also contact us online:

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