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The identity check can intervene in the event of an infringement but also as a preventive measure. Can you refuse to be checked and in which situations do you have to prove your identity? And at the borders?
Who is authorized to control me?
In theory, only a law enforcement officer can check you . In practice, a deputy or a judicial police officer can carry out the check, under the responsibility of a judicial police officer. Customs officers are authorized to check you in international transit points (stations, airports, ports) and up to 20 km from the borders of the Schengen area. On the other hand, store security guards and SNCF/RATP agents are not authorized to check you. However, the latter can appeal to the police services which are themselves empowered to carry out an identity check.
In what situations?
There are two main types of control.
First type of control: judicial police control. It takes place when an offense has just been committed or is about to be committed and also when a person is wanted.
Second type of control: administrative control: often for preventive purposes, it is carried out on the written request of the public prosecutor’s office in a limited area in space and time.
What about the borders?
In the Schengen area, you can be checked within a radius of 20 km around the border, up to the first toll on a motorway, 20 km after the first stop at a train station and up to 50 km when it this is an international station. You can also be checked at airports, ports and in all places where there is international traffic.
What happens in case of refusal?
Any citizen who refuses an identity check will often be directed to the nearest police station to undergo an identity check. The latter cannot last more than 4 hours. At the end of this period, even if your identity could not be verified, you have the right to be released. With the authorization of an investigating judge or the public prosecutor, police officers may take photos and/or fingerprints. In case of refusal, you incur 3 months’ imprisonment and a fine of 3,750 euros. For minors, parents must be present on the premises. If no offense can be held against you, all data relating to this verification must be destroyed within 6 months.
DAMY Law Firm, Nice, Do I have the right to refuse an identity check?, Update 2022