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Obligation To Give One's Name and Its Limits - Liability for False Identification

NCJ Number
NEUE POLIZEI Volume: 32 Issue: 7 Dated: (July 1978) Pages: 101-105
H Schmied
Date Published
6 pages
West German laws regarding the legal obligation to give one's name, and police responsibility for failure to determine indentify adequately are outlined.
According to law, it is not permissible for individuals to give false information or to refuse to give out information about their names, date, and place of birth, family status, profession, residence, and nationality to an authorized official. Officials are only allowed to ask for such information in the line of duty. Citizens are not, therefore, required to provide information without good reason. Providing personal information is obligatory if the questioner's public position permits him to gather such information, if the person questioned is suspected of illegal activities, and if the grounds given by officers when asking for information truthfully represent reasons for intervention. Suspects may refuse to supply information irrelevant to the offense, e.g., profession when accused of speeding. At the same time, police are considered negligent for failing to establish suspects' identify adequately when this is necessary in performance of official acts, especially for protection of personal rights. An example illustrates the risk of lawsuits against police officers who accept information from offenders without thoroughly investigating the veracity of the information. --in German.