What is a Stop and Identify Statute? [A Study of 50 States]
Stop and frisks are one of the most controversial police tactics which exist today.
It’s crazy but the same legal precedents that allow for stop and frisks, also allow for what are known as stop and identify statutes.
Our Findings: In Brief
Our study found that 28 should be considered stop and identify states. However, we found that at least 32 states have stop and identify statutes, 4 of which are very limited in scope.
These statutes come in 4 core types.
Furthermore, we identified 5 states which were not included in any previous lists of stop and identify states. Finally, we found 1 state which should no longer be considered a stop and identify state.
What is a “Stop and Identify Statute?
In order to do come up with a definition for stop and identify statutes, we looked at 4 cases which have shaped and defined the stop and identify laws we know have today.
One: A law that allows officers to require your ID without reason
A stop and identify statute is not, in any state a statute which allows an officer to demand someone identify themselves without probable cause, reasonable suspicion, or lawful arrest/detainment. Such a statute or action would be unconstitutional.
Two: Terry Stop or A Stop and Frisk
Although some stop and frisk statutes also include “stop and identify” clauses, they are not the same thing.
A Terry stop or stop and frisk can be conducted in any state where an officer suspects that illegal activity is occurring or is about to occur; and he for one reason or another suspects that he may be in danger.
Stop and identify statutes, like stop and frisk stem from the same case, but are two separate things.
“So while we want to ensure that law enforcement is able to investigate when investigation is necessary, we also have to be aware that these types of investigations are carried out in a manner that disproportionately affects people of color and people living in poorer neighborhoods. What is more concerning, however, is that the public is generally only aware of these types of stops when they result in an arrest.” -Falen O. Cox
“After providing the information and allowing reasonable time for the officers to check it, a person should ask if they are free to leave. If so, they should leave. If they are told that they are not free to leave, ask if they are under arrest. And, if they are told that they are under arrest or are being detained, they should stay but invoke their right to remain silent and to an attorney if questioned.” -Falen O. Cox
Expert Bio: Falen O. Cox is an attorney, and Founding Partner and Director of Operation at Cox, Rodman & Middleton in Savannah, Georgia.