Give Your Name or Go To Jail
By Richard W. Stevens
The Supreme Court’s Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial Court decision
in June 2004 changed Constitutional law. The Court held that citizens have no
right to remain silent when police officers ask for their names. If state or
federal laws require you to give your name, then you must give your name, or
face a criminal penalty.
It seems like a small
thing. But consider this: forcing citizens to state their names violates their
“right to remain silent.” And remember: giving a false name to
federal investigators could be a felony (18 U.S. Code § 1001). Gotcha!
Your Papers, Please!
The Hiibel majority
of five justices claimed that forcing citizens to give their names to police,
when the citizens have not been arrested, would help police do their job. Three
dissenting justices pointed out that getting a citizen’s name would do
almost nothing to help the police, unless the citizen were already wanted for
some other reason.
In all fairness, the Hiibel
majority said that demanding a citizen’s name was proper in cases where
the police already had some grounds to suspect that citizen was involved in
some kind of misconduct. But there’s a hidden trap.
Suppose the police stop
you and demand your name. If the state has a law requiring you to give your
name, then can you stay silent? The Hiibel decision says the police
can demand your name if they have a suspicion that you’re
involved in a crime. But you don’t know what the police
are thinking, so you don’t know if they have stopped you
legally. If this police stop is illegal, then under Hiibel you might
not have to give your name. But, if you refuse to answer, then the only way to
discover whether you have the right to refuse is to fight in court. (Mr. Hiibel
fought in three courts, including the Nevada and U.S. Supreme Courts).
Unless you can afford lengthy court battles, the Hiibel case
authorizes laws to force you to give your name to police under any
circumstances whenever you are asked. Practically speaking, nothing prevents
the police from routinely checking the identification of everyone they contact.
The Hiibel decision
thus places another burden upon citizens to prove their innocence. The
Constitution’s Fourth and Fifth Amendments say that government agents
must get evidence, probable cause, and warrants before they infringe upon
individuals’ liberty. The agents cannot compel individuals to orally give
evidence against themselves, i.e. the agents must gather the evidence by other
means. The Hiibel decision says that now the agents can compel citizens to
testify. Give your name or go to jail.
Links to Gun Owner
Gun owners who think
that giving their names to police is harmless must consider these three words:
Gun Owner Database. The police ask your identity, you give it. In
the gun owner database a name identical to yours has been flagged. Next thing
you know you’re being detained or arrested, and your guns are being
confiscated -- all based on the erroneous database entry. You’ll pay the
cost of defending yourself -- all because you gave your name to a police
officer conducting a routine name check. Even worse, if you own a firearm that
is registered and later made illegal, then giving your name in a random name
check could trigger a search or arrest on the spot.
Firearms In The
The Hiibel Court claimed their ruling does let not police
systematically check everybody’s identification papers. But you can bet
that the Supreme Court would permit routinely demanding identity or
registration papers from firearms owners, especially concealed-carry permit
holders. Why? Because (1) the mainstream elite culture disfavors firearms
ownership and distrusts gun owners, (2) some criminals use firearms,
and (3) owning and carrying firearms are now considered by many to be privileges
granted by government to the people.
Gun owners would have
nothing to fear if Americans cherished the Bill of Rights and deeply respected
firearms ownership. As it stands today, we are just a few laws away from
national homeland security identity cards, firearms registration and owner
efforts to preserve our rights and move popular opinion against “gun
control.” Join today – still only $20 annually. Watch the
documentary video, Innocents Betrayed, and show it to others. Read The
State vs. The People, the book that soberly reveals the truth about
the growing power of government in America ... and how that power endangers gun
ownership especially. Call (800) 869-1884 to get membership and product
information, or click on www.jpfo.org.
The fight for gun
rights is part of the culture war. Sign up with the patriots to win ... or
watch your rights die.