Amanda asks:

If a police officer asks me for my ID, do I have to give it to them?

To answer this question, I spoke with Craig Lawson, who is a criminal defense attorney in south Florida. Naturally, Craig began his answer with, “It depends.”

What does the answer depend on?

It depends on whether the police officer is investigating a crime, or has reasonable suspicion to believe that you have been involved with a crime.

Craig then gave an example: If you’re driving along and you’re speeding or you run a red light and a police officer pulls you over, you have to provide your ID because at that point, the police officer is investigating a crime or offense.

But, if you’re just walking down the street and an officer stops you and asks you for your ID without giving any reason (especially without telling you that they’re investigating a crime), you can refuse to show your ID.

What if the police officer tells you they’re investigating a crime, but you don’t believe them?

You should defer to the officer’s explanation and show your ID. Later, you can file a complaint with the police department that employs the officer, and you can call a civil rights attorney to discuss your legal rights and options.

Thank you for asking such a great question!