21 June 2004

Required to Incriminate Yourself

Wow. Gotta read the opinion but you are now required to admit your (potentially incriminating) criminal record to the officer, admit your (potentially incriminating) traffic record to the officer, admit to any warrants pending, allow officers to monitor the locations where you have been, etc.

I always knew the officer had the right to ask but I just figured you'd be able to assert your right not to aid the officer in gathering information about you.

Some of the news articles I've seen have asked if this might be the first step toward a national ID card. What's the point? The Supreme Court has cut a huge swath through the previously viable right to remain silent. Your name gives the government access to all sorts of important information that the current officer, or a future officer, might use against you. An ID card might even curtail the abuses which are now available. The next step will be for officers to be allowed to ask background info (ss#, DOB, mother's maiden name) in order to confirm that a person is who he says he is. Then what protections will be shorn away under the pretext that they will only effect the guilty (like the 4th amendment "no it's not really a search" dog searches)? Reasonable question tests will abound and consider the entirety of the set of circumstances. Good faith exceptions will come into play at about the same time.

The 4th Amendment is lying near death because our courts have shown a lack of foresight. It looks as if the health of the 5th Amendment is starting to take a turn for the worse. Not that we need them anyway; after all, only the disfavored will actually be effected.


Anonymous said...

Most of the news stories gets it wrong because they did not read the opinion. The opinion specifically left open the door to a 5th amendment right to avoid incriminating yourself. While it initially sounds unworkable, I am sure that a 5th amendment case will work its way up sooner or later, and limit the effect of this one.

I hope all of your readers read the opinion before commenting.

ASW said...

Is there not a distinction between the non-necessity to provide information to a court and the potential necessity to provide information to a police officer?

Ken Lammers said...

"Nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself"

Since putatively incriminating statments made to an officer and the evidence developed from those statements are both allowed to enter evidence at trial, when you speak to the officer you are constructively talking to the court.