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Name: Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of Nevada
Case #: Mar-54
Court: US Supreme Court
District USSup
Opinion Date: 06/21/2004
Subsequent History: Rehrg. den. 8/23/04

Officers received a telephone call reporting an assault of a woman by a man in a truck, and were dispatched to investigate. Upon arriving at the scene, officers approached a truck fitting the description in the report, and a man standing beside the truck. A woman was sitting in the truck. Skid marks nearby made it appear that the truck had stopped abruptly. Officers approached the man and asked for identification because they were investigating an assault. The man refused. Officers warned him he would be arrested if he did not identify himself, but he continued to refuse. The man, later identified as appellant, was arrested and subsequently convicted for violation of a Nevada resisting arrest statute. In this opinion, the United States Supreme Court affirmed the Nevada appellate court’s opinion affirming the conviction. The officer’s conduct did not violate appellant’s Fourth Amendment rights. Under Terry, an officer’s reasonable suspicion that a person may be involved in criminal activity permits a brief detention and investigation. Terry principles permit a State to require a suspect to disclose his name in the course of a Terry stop. The Nevada statute is consistent with Fourth Amendment prohibitions because it properly balances the intrusion on the the individual’s interest against the promotion of legitimate government interests. Appellant’s concerns that the statute circumvents the probable cause requirement by allowing the officer to arrest a person for being suspicious are met by the requirement that the Terry stop has to be justified at its inception and reasonably related in scope to the circumstances which justify it. The request in this case was a commonsense inquiry, not an effort to obtain an arrest for failure to identify. Further, there was no Fifth Amendment violation because disclosure of his name and identity presented no reasonable danger of incrimination. Hiibel’s refusal to disclose his name was not based on any articulated fear that his name would be used to incriminate him or furnish evidence; he merely thought it was none of the officer’s business. If a case arises where furnishing an identity at the time of a stop would have given the police evidence needed to convict the individual of a separate offense, the court can then consider whether the Fifth Amendment privilege applies. That question need not be resolved here. JJ. Stevens, Breyer, Souter, and Ginsburg dissented.