Skip to main content

Are you a legal professional? Visit our professional site

Search for legal issues
For help near (city, ZIP code or county)
Please enter a legal issue and/or a location

Man Gives Police Fake Name, Has Real One Tattooed on Arm

Article Placeholder Image
By Edward Tan, JD on April 06, 2012 9:02 AM

Some people are really good at lying. But even the best ones have a tough time when the truth is open for the world to see. An Idaho man learned this the hard way when he tried to give police a fake name despite having his real last name tattooed on his forearm.

Dylan Edward Contreras, 19, identified himself as Emiliano Velesco to an officer in Twin Falls, Idaho. But when the cop couldn't find the pseudonym in a police database, the officer ran the name he saw tattooed on Contreras' forearm, the Associated Press reports.

And lo and behold, a match. But was the cop's request for Contreras' name legal?

The Supreme Court has held that laws requiring suspects to identify themselves don't violate a person's Fourth Amendment right against unlawful searches and seizures. The catch is that cops must first have a reasonable suspicion that the suspect has or is about to commit a crime.

Police first spotted Contreras walking on the street with two other men and a dog. When all three were asked to move to the sidewalk, Contreras was singled out because he looked like he wanted to flee, police said.

Courts have generally held actions like those of resident genius Contreras are enough to constitute reasonable suspicion. The thinking is that people don't normally run away from police in these types of situations unless they've done something wrong.

Contreras had three warrants for failing to appear on various charges. Ironically, one of them was providing false information.

His story is goofy to be sure, but it does present an important lesson. If you have a tattoo of your name and want to give a fake one to cops, make sure you're wearing a sweater.

Related Resources

Find a Lawyer

More Options