Is refusing to identify yourself to a police officer a crime? The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on that question March 22 in a Nevada case in which Larry Hiibel was convicted of resisting arrest. The Las Vegas Review-Journal says the case is being monitored by civil libertarians, who view it as a test of constitutional rights in an era of terrorism.
The case pits the Fourth Amendment right of privacy and the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination against law enforcement’s right to conduct a criminal investigation based on reasonable suspicion. “We can’t yield to a climate of paranoia,” said Robert Dolan, who will argue Hiibel’s case. Hiibel was arrested in 2000 by a deputy sheriff who was checking a report that a man was hitting a girl in a truck.
The deputy asked Hiibel, who appeared drunk, 11 times to provide identification. He refused, placed his hands behind his back, and challenged the officer to take him to jail. He was fined $250 on a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest. The Nevada Supreme Court upheld his conviction, voting 4 to 3.