Sunday, December 24, 2006

Interlude: On Photo IDs

Interlude: On Photo IDs
Deviant Survival Guide
Copyright 2006 by drewkitty

[Author's Comments: easier to carry a photo ID? Yes. Consider the power of the passport. State IDs and DLs can be checked easily through CLETS and its brethren. Passports, less so. Is a corporate or other non-governmental ID an option available to you? Student IDs can also be helpful.]

I have never seen anything in California law that requires a private person to possess a photo ID at all times, that has not been thrown out by the Supreme Court. You do, however, have to provide your name when asked by a peace officer in the performance of their duties, investigating whether or not a crime has been committed.

You can be required to provide ID in order to travel, operate a motor vehicle, do certain types of financial transactions, etc. Of course you can refuse to do such things, but you will find it increasingly difficult to operate in mainstream society.

I'm talking about CPC 647(e) (scroll down for it) that was thrown out by KOLENDER v. LAWSON, 461 U.S. 352 (1983)

647. Every person who commits any of the following acts is guilty of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor:
(e) Who loiters or wanders upon the streets or from place to place without apparent reason or business and who refuses to identify himself or herself and to account for his or her presence when requested by any peace officer so to do, if the surrounding circumstances would indicate to a reasonable person that the public safety demands this identification.

Performing duties as a security officer -- you bet you'd better have a photo ID to match your licenses, particularly if you're lawfully armed.

My understanding in California is that: (1) being a homeless person is an apparent reason to be in public for 647e; (2) being able to articulate any intent to perform a lawful act lets you off the hook as well; and (3) [most important to people like me] there is no requirement that a person show ID, only that they identify themselves and answer reasonable questions if stopped by a peace officer.

For the messy legal details regarding (3) please see:
in which the Supreme Court agreed that states can pass laws allowing for the arrest of a person detained for investigation of a crime, who refuses to or cannot identify themselves.

In plain English the Christian Science Monitor (again) has a good summary: and from that article . . .

"In upholding his conviction and the mandatory identity-disclosure law, the majority justices also said the law only requires that a suspect disclose his or her name, rather than requiring production of a driver's license or other document."

Here's a link to the actual opinion.

From the Court's opinion:

"Four Terms later, the Court invalidated a modified stop and identify statute on vagueness grounds. See Kolender v. Lawson, 461 U.S. 352 (1983). The California law in Kolender required a suspect to give an officer "credible and reliable" identification when asked to identify himself. Id., at 360. The Court held that the statute was void because it provided no standard for determining what a suspect must do to comply with it, resulting in "virtually unrestrained power to arrest and charge persons with a violation." Id., at 360 (quoting Lewis v. New Orleans, 415 U.S. 130, 135 (1974) (Powell, J., concurring in result)).

The present case begins where our prior cases left off. Here there is no question that the initial stop was based on reasonable suspicion, satisfying the Fourth Amendment requirements noted in Brown. Further, the petitioner has not alleged that the statute is unconstitutionally vague, as in Kolender. Here the Nevada statute is narrower and more precise. The statute in Kolender had been interpreted to require a suspect to give the officer "credible and reliable" identification.

In contrast, the Nevada Supreme Court has interpreted NRS §171.123(3) to require only that a suspect disclose his name. See 118 Nev., at ___, 59 P.3d, at 1206 (opinion of Young, C. J.) ("The suspect is not required to provide private details about his background, but merely to state his name to an officer when reasonable suspicion exists"). As we understand it, the statute does not require a suspect to give the officer a driver's license or any other document. Provided that the suspect either states his name or communicates it to the officer by other means “a choice, we assume, that the suspect may make“ the statute is satisfied and no violation occurs. See id., at ___, 59 P.3d, at 1206-1207."

Also, you may also be interested in the discussion here: No duty for Americans to have or carry IDs (upheld in court since the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks in Carey v. Nevada Gaming Control Board, (2002) - 9th Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, referencing their previous decision in Lawson v. Kolender, 658 F.2d 1362 (9th Cir. 1981) [which was upheld by the Supreme Court in Kolender v. Lawson, 461 U.S. 352, 361-62 (1983)], explained that government demands that US persons identify themselves to government agents violate the Fourth Amendment because "as a result of the demand for identification, the statutes bootstrap the authority to arrest on less than probable cause, and [because] the serious intrusion on personal security outweighs the mere possibility that identification might provide a link leading to arrest").

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