What if the police stop me on the street and ask me who I am?

Question: 
What if the police stop me on the street and ask me who I am?
Answer: 

In most cases, if you are stopped and questioned by the police, you do not have to answer their questions, but it is a good idea to be polite.

If the police are thinking about arresting you, they will want to know who you are. There are several reasons to tell the police who you are:

  • If the police are looking for someone else, you might avoid being arrested by showing that you are not that person.
  • If the police think that you might have committed an offence, and you do not tell them who you are, they could arrest you and hold you at a police station until they find out who you are, or until they have to bring you to court for a bail hearing.
  • If the police think that you have committed a minor offence and you tell them who you are, then, instead of arresting you, they could give you a paper telling you when to go to court.

If you lie about your name or address, you can be charged with obstructing justice or obstructing the police.

If you are riding a bicycle, the police can stop you if they think you have broken provincial or municipal traffic laws. In such a case, you must stop and give them your name and address. If you refuse, they can arrest you.

There is no general requirement to carry identification papers. However, in some cases you may be required to have specific documents. For example, you must have a valid driver's licence with you when you are driving.

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