Lying to the Police Isn’t Always a Crime
What fun would freedom of speech be without the freedom to lie? So, when someone in a bar comes up and wants to know your name, must you give them your real name? Of course not. But, what if that ‘someone’ is a cop? Must you give the police your real name? Well, that depends. It’s a crime to give law enforcement a false name (under certain circumstances), and this comes up more than you might think in Orlando. Florida Statute section 901.36 calls this “Giving a False name to a Law Enforcement Officer”. Sometimes, police turn a citizen’s lies into a resisting an officer without violence charge, for failing to obey a lawful command of answering police questioning, but for a young juvenile named “K.D.”, a false name was given to police during their questioning. The police arrested K.D. for the charge of giving a false name, and K.D. was eventually convicted of this crime.
K.D. appealed the conviction, and the 1st District Court of Appeal here in Florida overturned the conviction, stating that K.D. was allowed to give a fake name under the circumstances. K.D. v. State, 43 So.3d 829 (Fla. 1st DCA 2010). First, the court determined that K.D.’s encounter with police was not a legal detention. The court reasoned that the statute prohibiting the giving of a false name only applies to situations where a person has been arrested or lawfully detained by law enforcement. Chalk up another victory for freedom of speech.