The U.S. Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments March 22 in a Nevada case that will determine whether people have a constitutional right to refuse to tell police their names.
Justices will review the prosecution of Larry Hiibel under a Nevada law that requires people suspected of wrongdoing to identify themselves to police or face arrest.
The issue had split the Nevada Supreme Court, which sided with police on a 4-3 vote in the case stemming from Hiibel's refusal - 11 times - to give his name to officers. He was convicted of a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest and was fined $250.
Hiibel has argued that he didn't believe he had done anything wrong when officers approached his parked truck in Humboldt County in 2000.
He was suspected of drinking and driving and of hitting his daughter. Prosecutors later dropped a misdemeanor domestic battery charge, and he wasn't charged with drunken driving.
His lawyers said in a filing that in some parts of the country"a person under a shadow of suspicion, who has not committed any crime, can be approached by the police, do absolutely nothing, and yet be arrested, convicted and incarcerated."
"It is inimical to a free society that mere silence can lead to imprisonment."
Prosecutors say the identification requirement helps police avoid wrongful arrests, and it only applies when officers have a reasonable suspicion that there was a crime.
The Nevada Supreme Court had said the case had implications for the government's terrorism fight.
But Robert Dolan, the lawyer who will argue Hiibel's case, said,"We can't yield to a climate of paranoia."