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When do I have to disclose my name to law enforcement?

The majority of people don't give more than a second thought to cooperating with law enforcement officials over things like handing over their driver's license or even providing their name.

While much of this cooperation comes from a genuine desire to help, some of it undoubtedly comes from the feeling that they really have no say in the matter or, even worse, the fear that failing to do so could somehow result in punishment.

Are there actually scenarios when people must provide law enforcement officials with their name?

Yes. Florida law dictates that, if asked, anyone driving a motor vehicle is legally obligated to produce a valid driver's license, something that would, of course, reveal their name.

State law also declares, however, that police can ask for a person's name when conducting a so-called Terry stop, meaning when they temporarily detain a person in public to conduct a limited search of their person based on a reasonable suspicion that a crime has been or is being committed.

Finally, it goes without saying that when a person is actually placed under arrest they must also provide their name.

What about "stop and identify" statutes?

These laws dictate certain circumstances in which a person must provide their name or face arrest. Florida does have such laws on the books. For example, police officers can arrest anyone who refuses to provide their name in the course of an investigation into an incident of loitering or prowling.

Outside of these situations, when can a person actually refuse to provide their name?

According to legal experts, it all depends on the nature of the interaction with law enforcement, such that if a person is free to leave they can refuse to provide their name. However, they also indicate that the onus is on the individual citizen to ask if they can leave, something that they are within their rights to do.

If you have any concerns that your rights were somehow violated by law enforcement officials in any capacity, please remember to consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible.  

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