I asked this question before but it was closed. So I will try to be here more specific.

I have read the stop and identify statutes wikipedia page. In this page there is written that:

In 12 states (Alabama, Delaware, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Utah, Wisconsin), police "may demand" identifying information. Of note, though, in New Hampshire for example (RSA 594:2), statutory language authorizing a 'demand' for identity does not establish a legal requirement to provide documentation of identity (ID), or even a requirement to respond in the first place.

So in New Hampshire a police officer may DEMAND my identification from me, and I may simply ignore him/her without committing a crime, right?

If my understanding is correct, suppose I am a gentlemen in my home in New Hampshire, and I am being harrassed by Mr. X (although I don't know his name): Mr. X is outside my door, he is calling my phone number repeatedly, he is repeatedly knocking on my door, he is repeatedly shouting my name out, he is repeatedly calling me a child molester, etc.

I call the police. The police shows up. I tell the police I want to file charges for harrassment against the guy in front of me (Mr. X, but I don't yet know his name). The police asks Mr. X (still, nobody knows his name at this time) for his identification. Mr. X will repond that "statutory language [...] does not establish a legal requirement to provide documentation of identity (ID)".

End of it. End of my charges.

Is that correct?

Note this question is not a duplicate of this one, because the latter question occurred in Texas, and the answer provided there ("Texas is not a state with an obligation to identify statute") does not apply here, because here we are in New Hampshire, which has such a statute.

  • You seem to be asking whether people suspected of committing a crime can evade arrest and prosecution simply by preventing the police from learning their identity. Is that correct? (If so, the answer is of course no.) I also note that your description of the law in New Hampshire suggests that it too "is not a state with an obligation to identify statute." It has a "may demand" statute that is not an "obligation to identify" statute.
    – phoog
    Commented Nov 22, 2020 at 18:11
  • Yes, I am asking that. Moreover, I am also asking a second question, which is how the police can learn the identity consistently with the statute that "does not establish a legal requirement to provide documentation of identity (ID), or even a requirement to respond in the first place". This second question has two sub-questions: (i) if they ask my name or my ID, can I refuse to give it to them without criminal penalties? (ii) if the answer to the previous is yes (which seems to be what the statute suggest), can they frisk me and find my ID? Commented Nov 22, 2020 at 18:15
  • @phogg if the statute "does not establish a legal requirement to provide documentation of identity (ID)", I can refuse to privde them my identity without incurring in criminal penalties, correct? Commented Nov 22, 2020 at 18:35
  • If they have probable cause to arrest you, then part of the arrest and booking process will be to identify who you are. In this case they can certainly search you and find your ID. If you don't have any, and you refuse to help them identify you, they will hold you until they can (via fingerprints, etc). The lack of a "stop and identify" statute is only relevant in cases where the police don't otherwise have probable cause to arrest or detain the person. Commented Nov 22, 2020 at 19:26

3 Answers 3


First of all, Mr X's refusal is in no way the end of the interaction, nor of your charges. If your report of Mr X's actions gives the police probable cause, they can arrest Mr X, even if he refuses to identify, and even if they do not know his name. The only difference is that if they do not know his name, they cannot use his record, if any, in deciding whether to arrest him. If they do arrest him, they can and usually will search him. If he carries ID, they will then know his name. Even if he doesn't, he can be lawfully required to provide his legal name once he has been arrested.


End of it. End of my charges.

is not at all correct.

Now let us look at the actual NH laws involved. Wikipedia links to two provisions: Section 644:6 and Section 594:2. What do they actually say?

Section 644:6 provides that:

644:6 Loitering or Prowling. –
I. A person commits a violation if he knowingly appears at a place, or at a time, under circumstances that warrant alarm for the safety of persons or property in the vicinity. Circumstances which may be considered in determining whether such alarm is warranted include, but are not limited to, when the actor:
(a) Takes flight upon appearance of a law enforcement official or upon questioning by such an official.
(b) Manifestly endeavors to conceal himself or any object.
(c) Has in his possession tools or other property which would lead a reasonable person to believe a crime was about to be perpetrated.
(d) Examines entrances to a structure which the actor has no authority or legitimate purpose to enter.

II. Prior to any arrest under this section, unless flight or other circumstances make it impossible, a law enforcement official shall afford the actor the opportunity to dispel any alarm which would otherwise be warranted, by requesting him to identify himself and give an account for his presence and conduct. Failure to identify or account for oneself, absent other circumstances, however, shall not be grounds for arrest.

III. No person shall be convicted under this section if the law enforcement official did not comply with paragraph II or if it appears at trial that the explanation he gave of his conduct and purposes was true and, if believed by the law enforcement official at the time, would have dispelled the alarm. In such cases, any record of the arrest made under authority of paragraph I shall be expunged.

IV. In this section, "entrances" means any part of a structure through which entry or egress could be made.

Note first of all that Section 644:6 only applies when the person accused has appeared "under circumstances that warrant alarm for the safety of persons or property" more or less when the person has given a reasonable impression that s/he might be going to break in or commit some similar crime. "Loitering with intent" it is called in some jurisdictions.

In those circumstances, a LEO must offer the accused a chance to explain his or her purpose to help dispel suspicion. That would include giving his or her name. The accused is under no obligation to give a name, or show ID. The only penalty for not doing so is that suspicion will not be dispelled, and if the officer thinks fit, the accused may be arrested. This section might well apply to the scenario in the question.

Section 594:2 provides that:

594:2 Questioning and Detaining Suspects. – A peace officer may stop any person whom the officer has reason to suspect is committing, has committed, or is about to commit a crime. An officer may request the person's name and address, but the officer shall not arrest the person based solely on the person's refusal to provide such information.

This also applies only when an officer has "reason to suspect" the accused. The section permits the officer tho "request" (which the officer could probably do even if this section had not been passed). But it does not impose any duty on the accused to respond, nor impose any penalty for not responding. Again the only penalty is the failure to dispel any suspicion in the officer's mind. The officer may in any case act on any reasonable suspicion or probable cause that may appear. This section might also apply to the situation in the question.

Neither section really gives an officer any power or authority the officer would not otherwise have. Both authorize the officer to request name and other identifying information. Neither makes it an offense to refuse to provide such information. Neither section describes what the officer may do as a "DEMAND". Whether either actually constitutes a "stop and identify" statue might be debated, but the statute itself is what matters, not the label attached to it.

In the situation described inn the question, an officer might well request Mr X to identify himself, and explain what he is doing and why. The officer can take Mr X's response, if any, into account in deciding whether to detain Mr X for investigation, arrest him, warn him, or take other action, or take none. That is true whatever response Mr X may make, or if he ignores any request.

So these sections will not greatly change what might happen, one way or another, in such a situation.


No. SCOTUS Case law states that if a police officer has reasonable articulable facts leading them to believe Mr. X has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime, they can demand Mr. X identify himself.

If police officer doesn’t have such reasonable articulable facts, they can request your ID, but can’t demand it. (The kicker? They don’t need to tell you if they have them)

Refusing to provide ID after being arrested can lead to new charges.

  • This answer may well be correct, but it would be improved if it cites a source, preferably the Supreme Court decision that it mentions. Commented Jan 1, 2023 at 22:26

You have to I.D. ONLY IF, they have reasonable articulable suspicion that you have committed or about to commit a crime. If you're walking down the street minding your own business, they can ask for I.D., but you have the right to refuse. In your example, there is reasonable articulable suspicion that Mr. X has intent to commit a crime. His actions, paired with his words (especially if he thinks you're a registered sex offender, and if you are then there's more reason to believe he may commit a crime). If Mr.X had shut his mouth and didn't say anything and he's on a public sidewalk just waiting for you and that made you nervous and you called the cops? Again, they can ask him, but he can refuse. There's no reasonable articulable suspicion he's committing or going to commit a crime. If you are a child molester, well don't do that and you won't have to be scared all the time! Oh, and FYI, New Hampshire is NOT a stop & Identify state!

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