Everything you do when you interact with the police department should be carefully planned. You have to ensure that you are being fully truthful without doing anything that might incriminate you in a criminal matter. Essentially, walking on eggshells is what many people will do when they are interacting with law enforcement.
You can get yourself into hot water if you don't provide your legal name to police officers when you are stopped or approached. You can actually face criminal charges for providing incorrect information to law enforcement.
When is it a crime?
Massachusetts law says that individuals can be charged with a crime if they willfully give police officers a false name after being arrested. This sets up a few different defense options.
First, this law only applies to people who have been arrested, not just questioned. Second, the person has to knowingly give the wrong name to the officer. Third, the name has to have been assumed for dishonest purposes.
In such cases, the prosecution must prove these three points beyond a reasonable doubt. This can be challenging partly because it is hard to prove why a person provided a false name.
Name changes are legal in many cases
It is interesting to note that the state law does allow for people to change their name at will. Typically, there doesn't have to be any type of legal proceeding to assume another name. The catch to this is that the person can't assume a new name in an effort to elude an arrest or to avoid any negative aspects of the criminal justice system.
This means that if you are arrested for drunk driving or any other crime and provide a false name to police officers in an effort to avoid having the conviction on your criminal record or to avoid having a multiple-conviction issue, you can face criminal charges. If a false name is provided, prosecutors don't have to prove the person's true name. Instead, they only have to prove that the conditions necessary for the charge were present in the case.
Reviewing the circumstances carefully can help an attorney develop a viable defense. Exploring every option can help defendants effectively fight the charge.