What Happens If You Give a Cop a Fake Name?

Interactions with law enforcement officials have the potential to lead to an arrest, criminal charge, and/or conviction. If you're ever in such a situation, you might be feeling stress or fear, both of which can make you behave in ways you usually wouldn't. Thus, during an initial stop by the police, you might not think clearly and give a fake name when being questioned by the cops. As you blurt out the first name you can think of, you might wonder if doing so is a crime and whether or not you could go to jail for such action. The answer depends on the situation and your intent for providing false information.

Giving a Cop a Fake Name

Minnesota has a law on the books that prohibits people from providing police officers with fake information. The statute applies not only to names but also to dates of births or ID cards.

For a person to be prosecuted under this law, they must have given the fictitious name:

  • To obstruct justice (such as avoid arrest or prosecution)
  • During a lawful stop or arrest

For instance, suppose an officer saw you weaving between lanes and suspected you were driving while intoxicated. They pulled you over and, upon walking up to your vehicle, asked for your name. Because the officer had reason to believe you were committing an offense (specifically a DWI), the stop was lawful. You were required to provide your actual name. If you gave a fake name because you don't want the officer to arrest you for drunk driving, you could be charged with giving a peace officer a false name.

In this circumstance, providing a false name is a misdemeanor. A conviction could result in up to 90 days in jail and/or up to a $1,000 fine.

Let's say the name you gave wasn't your own, but it wasn't fake. It was actually your cousin's. This is still an offense, although considered less serious than providing a fictitious name. Giving someone else's name or date of birth to a cop performing official duties is a gross misdemeanor. The penalties for this offense include a fine of up to $3,000.

Giving a Fake Name During Criminal Proceedings

Minnesota's law isn't only concerned with giving a fake name (or another person's name) to a cop during a stop or an arrest. It also makes it unlawful to do so during any part of criminal proceedings.

For instance, if you were called to court, and a judge or any other court employee asks for your name and/or date of birth, you must give your real information. As with providing false information to a cop, doing so with a court official can result in a misdemeanor (for giving fictitious information) or gross misdemeanor (for giving someone else's information) charge.

For the conduct to be considered a crime, the intent for giving the wrong name or date of birth to a court official must have been to obstruct justice.

If you've been charged with a misdemeanor or felony in Minneapolis, our attorneys at Brockton D. Hunter P.A. will leverage their knowledge, skills, and resources to defend your case. Call us at (612) 979-1112 or contact us online today.