Legal Briefs

Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court Of Nevada

In May, 2000, Larry Hiibel was stopped by the police following information from the sheriff’s department that a man with a car matching his had committed an assault. The officer attempted to confirm Hiibel’s identity in accordance with Nevada’s “stop and identify” law, which allows officers to stop persons “under circumstances which reasonably indicate that the person has committed, is committing or is about to commit a crime,” and detain that person in order to “ascertain his identity and the suspicious circumstances surrounding his presence abroad.” Hiibel refused to comply and was subsequently arrested and convicted of “willfully resisting, delaying, or obstructing a public officer in discharging or attempting to discharge any legal duty of his office.” Hiibel appealed this conviction, arguing that the Nevada law violated his Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights. This Cato brief argues that Hiibel’s arrest raises profound questions concerning citizens’ basic rights, specifically their right to voluntarily engage, or decline to engage, in conversations with law enforcement. By convicting Hiibel, the court criminalized his right to silence and non-self-incrimination, effectively diluting his constitutional rights.

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