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Law School Case Brief

Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial Dist. Court - 542 U.S. 177, 124 S. Ct. 2451 (2004)


Asking questions is an essential part of police investigations. In the ordinary course a police officer is free to ask a person for identification without implicating the Fourth Amendment. Interrogation relating to one's identity or a request for identification by the police does not, by itself, constitute a Fourth Amendment seizure.


A police officer responded to a call reporting that a man assaulted a woman. The officer found Defendant Larry Hiibel standing outside a parked truck with a woman inside the truck. The officer asked for Defendant's identification 11 times and was refused each time. The officer arrested Defendant. Defendant was convicted for obstructing the officer in carrying out his duties under Nev. Rev. Stat. § 171.123, a "stop and identify" statute that required Defendant only to disclose his name. The Supreme Court of Nevada rejected Defendant's Fourth Amendment challenge to the conviction. Defendant filed a petition for certiorari review, which asserted Fourth and Fifth Amendment challenges to the "stop and identify" statute.


Was Defendant’s constitutional right violated when he was convicted after he refused to tell the police officer his name?




The United States Supreme Court determined that the Terry stop, the request for identification, and the State's requirement of a response did not contravene the guarantees of the Fourth Amendment, because the request for identity had an immediate relation to the purpose, rationale, and practical demands of the Terry stop. Also, the request for identification was reasonably related in scope to the circumstances which justified the Terry stop. The Court also determined that Defendant's conviction did not violate the Fifth Amendment's prohibition on compelled self-incrimination because disclosure of his name presented no reasonable danger of incrimination.

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