Police Interactions and the Stop and Identify Statue in Indiana
Throughout the United States, there are a handful of states that have stop and identify laws. Generally, these laws give law enforcement the authority to legally order a person whom the officer reasonably believes has committed a crime to provide identifying information, such as their name. Each state’s law is different, and the identifying information a person is required to give varies. For example, the Indiana stop and identify statute requires individuals to either provide law enforcement with their driver’s license or with their name, address, and date of birth.
Regardless of circumstance, it’s vital that every Hoosier understands the laws governing their interactions with law enforcement. This post will examine Indiana’s stop and identify statute and go over some best practices for how to handle a routine traffic stop. However, if you’ve already been charged with an offense related to interaction with police or have further questions about your civil rights in Indiana, do not hesitate to reach out to the criminal defense lawyers at Keffer Hirschauer LLP.
Our founding partners, Bradley Keffer and Tom Hirschauer III, are both former deputy prosecutors who have experience on both sides of the criminal justice system. They understand the local courts in Indianapolis, as well as those all across the state of Indiana. They have deep experience in negotiation as well as inside the courtroom and will work tirelessly toward securing the best results in the case against you—whether that is dismissal, reduction of charges, or a not-guilty verdict.
Indiana’s Stop and Identify Statue
The Indiana stop and identify statute is located in Indiana Code 34-28-5-3.5, and states explicitly that, “a person who knowingly or intentionally refuses to provide either their name, address, and date of birth, or their driver’s license, to a law enforcement officer who has stopped the person for an infraction or ordinance violation, commits a Class C Misdemeanor.” In other words, this law means that Hoosiers have the statutory duty to provide police officers with identifying information if they have been pulled over and the officer believes in good faith that they have committed an infraction or ordinance violation.
If you are convicted under the stop and identify statute in Indiana, you could face criminal penalties. Per the Indiana sentencing guidelines, a person convicted of a Class C Misdemeanor faces a potential sentence of up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up $500. While this may seem harsh for something as simple as not identifying yourself, Indiana courts take this offense quite seriously. Therefore, if you have been charged with “refusal to identify self” then you’ll want to hire a skilled Indiana defense attorney, like those at Keffer Hirschauer LLP. From the initial consultation through negotiation and arguments to the court, a defense attorney from our Indianapolis law firm will provide the high-quality, dedicated criminal defense you need to minimize your criminal penalties and protect both your rights and your future.
Tips for Handling a Traffic Stop in Indiana
When it comes handling a traffic stop or police checkpoint in Indiana, the most important thing to remember is to stay calm, collected, and patient. When you see the police lights in your rearview mirror, engage your car’s turn signal and pull over to the side of the road as soon as you safely can do so. When the officer approaches you, be polite, respectful, and humble and keep your hands in a place where the officer can clearly see them, ideally on the steering wheel. Do not move around in the vehicle, change seats or get out of your car. These actions could make the officer believe that you are dangerous and a threat to their safety.
If the officer proceeds to ask you any questions, remember the stop and identify statute in Indiana. Per state law, you are required to provide either your name, address, and date of birth, or your driver’s license. You’ll also need to provide them with your registration and, under some circumstances, your car insurance. Beyond that, you are not legally obligated to answer any other questions and should not, under any circumstances, provide them with any information that may be incriminating in some manner.
For example, if an officer pulls you over under the suspicion of drunk driving in Indiana, they may ask you, “how much have you had to drink today?” Legally, you do not have to answer this question and, if you have had something to drink, you may not want to answer the question. Any statements you may provide could be used against you in court, and they may play a factor in helping the officer establish probable cause. If the officer does have probable cause to believe that you are operating a vehicle under the influence, they may offer you the opportunity to submit to a certified chemical test. Per the Implied Consent law in Indiana, you must submit to this test or risk having your license suspended for one year, or longer.
In addition, it’s important to remember that if an officer asks to search your vehicle, you are well within your rights to say, “no.” However, under the Indiana search warrant laws, warrantless searches may occur if the officer has probable cause to believe that the vehicle contains contraband and is still in the same location where original traffic stop took place. In these situations, the search can extend to all parts of the vehicle that the officer reasonably believes may contain contraband. This could include the trunk, center console, glove compartment, etc.
Tips for Handling a Traffic Stop Arrest
If you are arrested as a result of a traffic stop, do not resist the officer or touch the officer in any way. Under Indiana Code 35-44.1-3-1, you could be charged with resisting law enforcement, if you’ve been found to have forcibly resisted, obstructed, or interfered with a law enforcement officer while that officer is lawfully engaged in the execution of their duties. Under the least serious circumstances, this offense is considered to be a Class A misdemeanor in Indiana.
It’s also important to remember that even after you’ve been arrested, you do not have to speak to the police. Instead, you should ask to speak with an attorney. Once you do so, they must stop talking to you. In addition, if you are under the age of 18, police cannot ask you questions until you have been able to talk to a parent, guardian, or attorney. Given this, you should inform police of your name, your age, and how to reach a parent, guardian, or attorney.
Finally, remember that law enforcement officers are supposed to remain respectful and professional during any interaction with a member of the public. So, if you do feel that you are being treated unfairly, improperly, or unacceptably by the police, it’s best to stay as calm as possible and pay close attention to details. Generally, your entire interaction with the officer(s) should be recorded on their dashcam and bodycam. However, not all departments have this equipment, so you’ll still want to do your best to remember everything the officers are saying to you and their actions throughout the entire encounter. You’ll also want to get their names and badge numbers, if possible, so that you can report them to the police department at a later date.
Further Questions about the Stop and Identify Statute in Indiana?
If you have any further questions or concerns about the stop and identify statute in Indiana, or have been charged with a criminal offense as a result of a traffic stop in Indiana, you’ll want to speak with an experienced attorney with a strong background in Indiana traffic law. They can help you understand the statute, how it applies to certain situations, and/or how to best proceed with your case in a manner that offers the best chance of having the charges against you reduced or dismissed.
With years of experience as prosecutors and defense attorneys, the criminal defense team at Keffer Hirschauer LLP have the required depth of knowledge to guide you through all stages of a criminal case. We’ll start by explaining the charge(s), the potential sentencing consequences, and explore options for mitigating any collateral consequences. Then we’ll utilize our knowledge of criminal law and court culture to develop the optimal defense strategies for your case, character, and circumstances.
Ultimately, with our trusted defense team by your side, you won’t have to resign yourself to maximum penalties under Indiana law. We’ll do everything in our power to minimize your penalties or have the case dismissed altogether. To speak with a defense attorney today, 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.