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November 2015 Archives

Criminal Law Myths

Clients always have preconceived notions of what the laws are when it comes to interacting with the police. Over the next few weeks, we are going to address these myths. This week we will take a detailed look at what identification one must provide to police. The law requires an individual in New Mexico to identify themselves upon the request of an officer in the lawful discharge of his/her duties. See NM Stat § 30-22-3. New Mexico law states: "Concealing identity consists of concealing one's true name or identity, or disguising oneself with intent to obstruct the due execution of the law or with intent to intimidate, hinder or interrupt any public officer or any other person in a legal performance of his duty or the exercise of his rights under the laws of the United States or of this state." NM Stat § 30 -22-3 New Mexico Courts have interpreted this to mean that law enforcement can ask for an individual to identify himself or herself. The New Mexico Court of Appeals has examined this issue. In Dawson, police noticed a camper parked on state university property. See State v. Dawson,1999-NMCA- 072, 12 (N.M. Ct. App.1999). They approached the camper and wanted the defendant to remove the camper from state university property. Id. Cecil Dawson failed to identify himself. Id. However, after some questioning by UNM Police, Cecil Dawson disclosed part of his name to UNM Police. Id. The court held that "Section 30-22-3 requires a person to furnish identifying information immediately upon request, or if the person has reasonable concerns about the validity of the request. State v. Dawson,1999-NMCA-072, 12 (N.M. Ct. App.1999). In Hiibel, the United States Supreme Court upheld the types of laws as constitutional. See Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial Dist. Court, 542 U.S. 177 (U.S.2004). It is important to note that different laws apply when you are operating a motor vehicle. This offense is classified as a petty misdemeanor. See NM Stat § 30-22-3. In the context of a valid traffic stop, a failure to provide the information contained in a driver's license falls within the reach of the concealing identity statute, 30-22-3 NMSA 1978, regardless of whether a driver also provides his or her true name. State v. Andrews, 1997-NMCA-017, 123 N.M. 95, 934 P.2d 289, 1997 N.M. App. LEXIS 6 (N.M. Ct. App.), cert. denied. If you have a question about this or any other legal issue please do not hesitate to contact our office at 575-622-5440. The above information is educational in nature only. It does not constitute legal advice. No attorney client relationship has been established. Individuals are advised to consult with an attorney licensed in their jurisdiction.

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