Contrary to what people may have seen on television, in the majority of states, a police officer is not required to identify themselves simply because someone asks. In most jurisdictions, police officers are ordered by their departments to identify themselves only in circumstances which won’t impede the forward progression of an investigation.

For example, let’s look at a popular scenario from any number of crime dramas. An undercover officer sells drugs to someone who has asked to buy them. The police officer denies being a member of law enforcement and the buyer later cries “entrapment.” This is make believe at its best.


Entrapment does not mean that you were duped into getting caught doing something illegal. It means that you were forced or coerced into committing a crime that you had no plan on committing or otherwise would not have. Let’s look at the example above in a different way.

An undercover officer tries to sell drugs to someone on the street. That person declines. The police officer continues to ask, escalating in anger and the person finally purchases the drugs out of fear. This could be considered entrapment.

Now that you understand entrapment, we will revisit the necessity of a police officer to identify themselves. Put quite simply, there is no law that says a law enforcement officer must identify themselves as such. Do not assume that, during the commission of a crime, you stumble across an officer who doesn’t shout “I’m the police” and you will have a brilliant defense. This is not how our criminal justice system works.

Typically, you will encounter police officers with name badges and identification. You are more than welcome to jot their name down or store it in your long-term memory. Where things can get a bit cloudy is when you encounter a detective or undercover officer. If identifying themselves to you would jeopardize their case, don’t expect to be given a name and rank and don’t expect to be able to use the lack of identification as a part of your defense strategy.

If you have been arrested for a crime in Orlando, call our office. We will review the details of your case at no cost to you and advise you of your options. Call today and let us begin helping you move forward.

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