Florida prohibits a person who has been arrested or lawfully detained by a police officer to give a false name, or otherwise falsely identify himself or herself.
This crime is known as false name after arrest, and it is a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable by up to 364 days in jail.
This crime typically occurs when somebody is stopped by police. If that person provides the police officer with a false name, that person will likely be charged with false name after arrest, in addition to any other charges that the officer may add.
A person arrested for this charge may be issued a promise to appear (PTA) or may be physically taken to jail. Remember, either scenario constitutes an arrest.
It should be noted, however, that recantation is a defense to this charge. That means, if before the arrest is concluded the accused gives the officer his or her true name, then the law states that the accused can no longer be charged with the crime of giving a false name after arrest.
The primary policy reason to recognize the recantation defense is compelling: the defense encourages people to recant false information and tell the truth to law enforcement authorities without fear of prosecution.
Regardless, many police officers will still charge you with this crime because they are not trained in the law the way a South Florida criminal defense attorney is trained. This crime is a misdemeanor that will go on your record. It may have serious implications when trying to get a job or apply for a professional license, since people view this as a crime of dishonesty.
I practice in Miami and Broward. If you are facing criminal charges in either of these two areas, call my office to discuss your matter confidentially.