KOLENDER V. LAWSON, 461 U. S. 352 (1983)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Kolender v. Lawson, 461 U.S. 352 (1983)

Kolender v. Lawson

No. 81-1320

Argued November 8, 1982

Decided May 2, 1983

461 U.S. 352


A California statute requires persons who loiter or wander on the streets to identify themselves and to account for their presence when requested by a peace officer. The California Court of Appeal has construed the statute to require a person to provide "credible and reliable" identification when requested by a police officer who has reasonable suspicion of criminal activity sufficient to justify a stop under the standards of Terry v. Ohio, 392 U. S. 1. The California court has defined "credible and reliable" identification as

"carrying reasonable assurance that the identification is authentic and providing means for later getting in touch with the person who has identified himself."

Appellee, who had been arrested and convicted under the statute, brought an action in Federal District Court challenging the statute's constitutionality. The District Court held the statute unconstitutional and enjoined its enforcement, and the Court of Appeals affirmed.

Held: The statute, as drafted and as construed by the state court, is unconstitutionally vague on its face within the meaning of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by failing to clarify what is contemplated by the requirement that a suspect provide a "credible and reliable" identification. As such, the statute vests virtually complete discretion in the hands of the police to determine whether the suspect has satisfied the statute and must be permitted to go on his way in the absence of probable cause to arrest. Pp. 461 U. S. 355-361.

65 F.2d 1362, affirmed and remanded.

O'CONNOR, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J.,and BRENNAN, MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, POWELL, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. BRENNAN, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 461 U. S. 362. WHITE, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which REHNQUIST J., joined, post, p. 461 U. S. 369.

Page 461 U. S. 353

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