Failure to Identify Attorney in Tarrant County
Did a Fort Worth police officer arrest you or a loved one for the crime of Failure to Identify? If so, you need to partner with an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney to prepare a legal defense to help you get your failure to id case dismissed.
Do I Have To Answer Police Questions?
This is one of the most frequent questions we receive at The Fulgham Law Firm. The answer depends on the circumstances of the encounter with the police. Failure to identify charges in Fort Worth commonly result when individuals are confused about their rights. It is imperative that you know your rights when interacting with the police. The most often implicated right with failure to identify charges is the right to remain silent.
You do not have to answer questions from a police officer that go to the heart of the offense. This means if a police officer questions you about what happened or related to an investigation of a crime, you do not need to and should not answer the questions. Immediately state that you would like to consult with an attorney and call the Fulgham Law Firm.
However, an arrest for failure to identify does not occur because an individual refused to succumb to interrogation. The crime of failure to identify arises when someone fails to provide their name or provides the wrong name and other identifying information when they have been detained or arrested. We have also represented clients arrested and charged with failure to id based upon being a witness to a crime and refusing to provide their name and identifying information or using the wrong name and/or identifying information.
As a former prosecutor for the District Attorney’s Office in both Collin and Tarrant Counties, I have seen numerous confused individuals wrongfully charged with failure to identify for simply misunderstanding the right to remain silent.
Over the years, I have developed a keen understanding of how judges and juries think and evaluate evidence. I have also gained a unique knowledge of the prosecution of a case and have built relationships with the District Attorney’s Office, allowing me to better negotiate on your behalf regarding plea offers, diversion, and sentencing.
If you were arrested for failure to identify in Tarrant County and its surrounding cities, call the Fulgham Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation to review your charges at (817) 886-3078. We can discuss your arrest and Texas law regarding failure to identify, brainstorm defenses, and develop a game plan for attacking the prosecution’s case.
What Is Failure to Identify in Fort Worth?
Texas Penal Code § 38.02 requires the State of Texas to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you
- Refused to give your name, residence address, or date of birth to a peace officer who has lawfully arrested you and requested the information.
- You intentionally given a false or fictitious name, residence address, or date of birth to a peace officer who has:
- Lawfully arrested the person;
- Lawfully detained the person; or
- Requested the information from a person the police officer has good cause to believe is a witness to a criminal offense.
When analyzing the crime of Failure to ID in Texas, you must ask two primary questions:
- Did you refuse to provide a name, address, date of birth or other identifying information to a peace officer?
- Did you give a FALSE or fictitious name, date of birth or other identifying information to a peace officer after having been lawfully arrested, detained or as witness to a crime?
What does it mean to provide false or fictitious identifying information? You have to be careful with this one. Sometimes, refusing to give anything other than your exact legal name will trigger a police officer to believe you intentionally gave false information regarding your name. For example, we have had instances where a client provided a nickname or their middle name to the police officer. The client had no intention of giving false information to the police officer because the name provided was the given name they were using on a daily basis. However, because the name given did not exactly match with the information in the Texas Department of Public Safety database, the police officer interpreted this response as intentionally providing false information.
A comparable situation can occur if you provide accurate information regarding everything but get part of your date of birth incorrect. This is a frequent problem when someone is being arrested for public intoxication and they give incorrect information to the police officer because of their intoxication. If this situation is something you or a loved one is going through, you need to speak with one of our experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorneys to explain your options for legal defense.
When you are arrested, an officer will attempt to gather information about you to input into the system. This information goes on police reports, as well as national criminal databases. Your unique biographical data is used to identify you and match the arrest to your exact identity.
Questioning regarding biographical data is not considered interrogation. In fact, it is not against the law to refuse to answer biographical information, such as name or date of birth if you are a witness to a crime only.
During custodial interrogation, you have a constitutional right under Miranda to remain silent. However, you do not have the right to remain silent when an officer asks for your name, address, or date of birth. You must answer these questions, and you must answer truthfully. It is precisely this situation that gets most people in Texas arrested for the crime of Fail to ID. Many Texans believe that because they have a right to remain silent, they can refuse to provide name, address, or date of birth. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
Do You Have To Show Your ID To An Officer In Texas?
Not usually! There are certain circumstances that Texas law will require you to provide identification. For example, if you have been formally arrested, you are carrying a handgun at the time, or you are pulled over while driving a moto vehicle, the police can approach you and require you to provide identification.
Penalties for Failure to Identify to a Tarrant County Police Officer
Refusing to answer biographical data questions is a Class C misdemeanor, which faces a hefty fine of up to $500 but no county jail time. When we say biographical data, we mean refusing to give the police officer your name and/or date of birth when a police officer approaches you. However, if you lie and give a fake name, address, or date of birth in order to protect yourself, failure to identify may become a Class B misdemeanor, which faces up to 180 days in Tarrant County jail and/or up to $2,000 in fines.
Defenses to Failure to Identify
If you were accused of refusing to answer questions, possible defenses include:
- Incapacity to answer – perhaps you were in a position because of a medical condition or other limiting factors that made it impossible for you to physically answer the officer.
- You were not under arrest at the time of the incident – this applies more for witnesses to a crime or anyone that is not a suspect. There is not requirement that a witness to a crime or bystander identify themselves to the police during an investigation.
- The officer was attempting to ask you non-biographical data questions – although you are required to answer questions regarding biographical questions, you are not required to answer ANY other questions – including questions regarding the facts, your past, surrounding circumstances or facts, etc.
If you were accused of providing false information, possible defenses include:
- The information you gave was accurate and current – the best defense to failure to identify is that the information you provided was, in fact, accurate. If the police officer heard you wrong or wrote down the incorrect information, it is critical that your criminal defense attorney examine the videos or other digital media evidence to establish your communication was accurate
- You lacked criminal intent to provide false information – can the prosecutor prove that this was anything other than a mistake or accident? It is quite common for an accused citizen to get extremely nervous when speaking to the police and provide information that may be mistaken or out of order. In order to be convicted for the crime of Failure to Identify, it must be your specific intent to falsify information and “trick” the officer with the biographical information you provided. Your criminal defense attorney should thoroughly examine the evidence and surrounding facts to see if there is a reasonable argument that the entire encounter was a mistake not a crime.
- The police officer misunderstood your answer, or you misunderstood the question – this scenario happens all the time. A police officer starts to ask a citizen a question and the citizen becomes confused with what they want. The citizen provides an answer to the question that frustrates the police officer because of the misunderstanding. It is rare that a police officer will give you the benefit of the doubt. Usually, if the officer believes you provided information that was evasive or false, they will immediately arrest you and charge you with Fail to ID. All of us have been misunderstood. It is not a crime to have a misunderstanding. This is why it is critical for you to sit down with your criminal defense attorney and evaluate your video and digital media evidence. Most police reports are written by the officer after your arrest and almost always make you look bad. The video evidence could provide body language and contextual evidence indicating that you or the officer may have been confused regarding the questions. This could provide you reasonable doubt to have your Fail to ID case dismissed.
Zealous Advocacy Against Failure to Identify Charges in Fort Worth
Each day, countless Fort Worth residents are accused of failure to identify. As a former prosecutor, I can anticipate the prosecution’s evidence and arguments in order to craft a creative and strong defense strategy. In addition to my experience, the Fulgham Law Firm employs a criminal defense team of Former Prosecutors with over 80 years of criminal law experience and over five hundred criminal jury trials. We have handled thousands of criminal cases in the Fort Worth and Tarrant County, Texas area and we stand ready to defend your freedom and your clean criminal record. To schedule a free consultation with the Fulgham Law Firm, call (817) 886-3078 today.
Call us right now to get help.
We have helped hundreds of people in Texas, and we can help you too. We will set you up with a free conversation with Mr. Fulgham which will help you know what to do next. The Fulgham Law Firm serves Fort Worth and Tarrant county areas.