Where’s Your ID? Do you have appropriate identification in your possession wherever you go? Do you understand the reasons why having carrying ID on you at all times is important? These are the questions we are going to examine today.

Let us suppose you are walking down the street with a crowd of guys. The cops stop you and say that you fit the description of a robber reported in the neighborhood you are walking in presently. Next, the cops ask who you are and where you’ve been that morning. If you respond, “it’s none of your business,” this will heighten their suspicion of you. If they ask you for identification and if you tell them you have no ID, then you are the suspected robber.

The face of the matter — the failure to have any identification on you — would lead to the cops suspecting you. Why? If you drive, you should have a driver’s license. If you go to school, the school will issue its students a photo identification card. If you are a welfare recipient, you must have some form of identification in order to get the benefit. If you are a legal immigrant, you must have a green card. Thus, anyone who fails to have any forms of personal identification is regarded by the cops as an individual who does not want to be identified. Thus, the detained person is perceived to have something to hide.

This is an instance where the cops have reasonable belief to arrest an individual since there is no way they can verify who you are. Since the detainee fits the description, arguably they could take you to the police station for questioning and identification by the robbery victims.

If this happens, you can be asked questions. Your response is to inform the cops you will be willing to talk with them once you have an attorney present. This is where the detainee must be persistent. If the cops cannot shake the arrestee’s resolve, ideally the police will call an attorney within a reasonable period of time.

While detained, the cops will have given the detainee a Miranda warning. A smart cop knows if he fails to give a Miranda warning when questioning an arrested individual, he/she may lose the charge. If a teenager is arrested, the teenager should ask the cop to contact his/her parents before talking with a cop or an attorney. How long can the cops detain you? The answer varies depending upon your jurisdiction. The answer can be found by going to a law library in your area and asking a law librarian to provide you with the regulation governing detention in specific jurisdictions. This is an area of law that is subject to change, so you should check regulations in this area on a regular basis. The catch word here is “reasonable time.”

How could this all could have been prevented? The appropriate identification might have negated the cop’s suspicion. Your personal identification indicates where you fit in your community. A cop’s quick check of your identification might reveal that you are not the suspect they are looking for. If your personal identification indicates your age, height, weight, or legal status, then these facts may simply eliminate any further question in the cop’s mind that you could be a suspect. Your ID can also support your statement about who you are.

There are other reasons why you should always carry proper ID with you. For instance, having appropriate ID in your possession is necessary in the event of a medical emergency. If an individual is incapacitated, his or her ID enables the hospital to contact the relatives of the injured individual and possibly save that person’s life. ID is also necessary to contact a relative in the event that a person has died.

Having your identification in your possession is your shield from a potential arrest if your identification can confirm who you are and your alibi. In fact, it can be crucial in any emergency.

Please do not leave home with any personal identification. It might save your life.



The Crawford Chronicles

Warren Crawford, Esq., Attorney at Law, has over 25 years of experience working for the State of New Jersey Department of Corrections. Make sure you read the Crawford Chronicles, published the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at 11:00 AM, EST at www.urbansocialitesnj.com. It might save your life – because your life matters!

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