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Know Your Rights: Do I have to give my name to cops?

by | Jun 25, 2021 | Know Your Rights

Know Your Rights - Maceo Law, P.C.

People often wonder when they are required to share their name and other identifying information with law enforcement. It is a fair question as it is important to know your rights before a situation occurs where you are asked by cops to identify yourself. The answer to this question varies from state to state, but in Massachusetts, there are very few instances when you are required to give your name to the police, and they all involve the operation of a motor vehicle.

Rights When Operating a Motor Vehicle In Massachusetts

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 25 states that any person operating a motor vehicle may be required to share their name and address, as well as the name and address of the person that owns the motor vehicle, with any law enforcement officer requesting that information. Surprisingly, there are no other Massachusetts laws that require a person to give their name to a police officer.

Passengers in a motor vehicle are not required to provide their names unless they are being ticketed. An example of this is when an officer stops a vehicle and notices an adult passenger is not wearing their seat belt as required by law. The officer may then request the passenger’s name and the passenger is obligated to provide it as they are receiving a ticket for a legal violation.

Providing False Information to Massachusetts Law Enforcement

While there are no Massachusetts laws other than the one discussed above that require an individual to state their name to law enforcement, there are laws that require that a person not give false information to law enforcement. In other words, while it may be acceptable to decline an officer’s request for your name, it is never acceptable to provide a law enforcement officer with an incorrect name.

Rights If You Are An Immigrant In Massachusetts

If you are an immigrant, with a few exceptions, you are under no obligation to provide your name or other information when requested unless your immigration papers are requested by an immigration agent. Then, you must provide them upon request. It is a good idea to keep these papers on your person at all times.

Even when you are not under an obligation to provide the requested information to law enforcement, you are not allowed to provide incorrect information. You must either speak truthfully or invoke your right to remain silent, but you cannot lie about who you are or provide false documentation regarding your identity.

Contact the Legal Professionals at Maceolaw, P.C.

If you have questions regarding your rights under Massachusetts law, contact Maceolaw at 617-208-0505 or via their contact page to schedule a consultation. Attorney Ambar Maceo is an experienced criminal defense attorney and she is eager to use her knowledge to help others understand their rights under the law and defend them when those critical rights are violated.