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I Gave a Police Officer the Wrong Name. Is That Illegal?

I Gave a Police Officer the Wrong Name. Is That Illegal?

Regardless of what you were doing beforehand, being stopped by the police can be stressful. You might not know what to do during such an encounter, and under pressure or fearing consequences, you might provide inaccurate information when the officer asks for your name. Unfortunately, in Illinois, if you intentionally give misleading details about yourself to the police, you could be charged with an offense.

Obstruction of Identification

Illinois has a law on the books that makes it illegal to give false personal information to an officer performing official duties. That means if a cop stops you, and they ask for your name, you can't respond with your dad's name or some name that you made up. Doing so could result in an arrest for obstructing identification and a potential jail sentence.

Under 720 ILCS 5/31-4.5, you are required to accurately give the following information to law enforcement officials:

  • Name,
  • Address, and
  • Date of birth

The law applies if you have been stopped on suspicion of committing an offense, as well as if you may have information about an alleged crime.

Specifically, the statute says that you cannot intentionally give false or fictitious personal information when an officer:

  • Arrested you,
  • Detained you, or
  • Reasonably believes you witnessed a crime

Is Obstructing Identification the Same as Obstructing Justice?

Obstructing identification and obstructing justice are two separate offenses, and the latter is considered a more serious crime than the former. Obstructing justice occurs when a person does something to prevent themselves or another person from being prosecuted.

Under 720 ILCS 5/31-4, a person obstructs justice when they knowingly:

  • Damage, destroy, or alter evidence;
  • Plant false evidence;
  • Furnish incorrect information;
  • Coerce a witness to hide themselves;
  • Flee or conceal themselves when they have information pertinent to a crime;
  • Report false information about the disappearance or death of a child under 13 years of age

Whereas obstructing identification is a Class A misdemeanor that carries a jail term of up to 1 year, obstructing justice is a Class 4 felony with a prison sentence of up to 3 years.

Know Your Rights

Although you must give your correct personal information to an officer, after doing so, you can invoke your Fifth Amendment right. You are protected under the U.S. Constitution from providing statements that might incriminate you, and when you plead the Fifth, you are not required to answer a law enforcement official's questions. Politely let them know that you will remain silent, and, if you've been taken into custody, you will speak with a lawyer before giving any other information.

If you've been charged with a crime in Chicago, reach out to Ahmad Law Firm for dedicated legal defense. You can call us at (847) 807-1780 or fill out an online contact form.


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