Court divided over failure to identify conviction

April 28, 2016

Although the majority found a defendant’s evasiveness in answering identifying questions from a police officer “reprehensible,” the judges reversed the man’s failure to identify conviction because he did eventually provide the information to the officer.

Corey Weaver was pulled over by Hendricks County Sheriff’s Deputy Samuel Chandler because his car had an inoperable plate light. Weaver told the officer he was unaware of the broken light. Weaver failed to provide any identification, leaving the deputy to ask for Weaver’s address, name and date of birth. Weaver was evasive, asking Chandler questions, or not answering the question. Eight minutes after the stop, Chandler removed Weaver from his car and handcuffed him until he could identify him. Eight minutes later, Chandler finally provided his date of birth, which led to Chandler discovering Weaver had a suspended license.

Weaver was charged with Class A misdemeanor driving while suspended and Class C misdemeanor failure to identify. He represented himself at trial and was convicted as charged.

The state had to prove that Weaver knowingly or intentionally refused to provide his name, address and date of birth to convict him of failure to identify.

“Weaver argues that our court may not require an individual to provide the requested information to the officer within a certain amount of time because Indiana Code section 34-28-5-3.5 does not impose a time requirement. We agree, but only to a point, a point that was not reached in the facts before us,” Judge Paul Mathias wrote in the majority opinion.

The majority said it may reasonably conclude the Legislature intended a person would identify him or herself promptly when an officer asks for such information. The judges looked at the conversation between the two and noted when Chandler asked for Weaver’s address, Weaver asked if he was being charged with something. Chandler never again asked about his address.

Mathias describes Weaver’s general behavior during the stop as “ridiculous” and said he behaved “reprehensibly.” But, “we do not consider Weaver’s question in response to being asked for his address to constitute refusal. Indeed, his legitimate question as to whether he was being arrested approaches constitutional magnitude under the statute.”

Weaver never technically refused to provide his address, so the state didn’t meet its burden under the statute. The majority, which included Judge James Kirsch, reversed the refusal to identify conviction.

Judge Robert Altice dissented, noting there was nothing prompt about Weaver’s answering of the deputy’s questions. It took 16 minutes from the time the stop began until Weaver provided his birth date, which a reasonable trier of fact could conclude constituted failure to identify, he said.

The case is Corey T. Weaver v. State of Indiana, 32A04-1508-CR-1110.


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