State College False Identification to Law Enforcement – Failure of Officer to Warn Client of Investigation

Penn State False Identification to Law Enforcement Charge Dismissed

Client was highly intoxicated and had passed out in the lobby his Penn State dorm. Client was transported by ambulance to the Mount Nittany Medical Center to be treated for an alcohol overdose. Hours later, the Penn State police went to the medical center to interrogate Client. Client tried to avoid providing his name and date of birth because he wanted to avoid an Underage Drinking charge. The police told Client that he would not be permitted to leave the hospital until he provided the requested info. Client provided a false name and date of birth. After an officer could not verify the info, the officer told Client that a failure to provide accurate information would lead to more serious charges. Client provided the same incorrect information. Client was charge with a misdemeanor offense of False Identification to Law Enforcement, in violation of 18 Pa.C.S. 4914, and summary offenses in Centre County.

State College defense attorney Jason S. Dunkle filed a pre-trial motion to dismiss the False Identification to Law Enforcement charge and argued that the officer had failed to inform Client that Client was a suspect in a police investigation. That law prohibits a person from giving false information about identity to a police officer  “after being informed by a law enforcement officer who is in uniform or who has identified himself as a law enforcement officer that the person is the subject of an official investigation of a violation of law.” Here, the Centre County prosecutor tried to argue that the officer’s threat that Client’s failure to provide accurate information would cause more trouble was sufficient information to put Client on notice of the police investigation. Attorney Dunkle argued that the law clearly required the officer to simply tell Client that Client was being investigated for a violation of the law, and the failure the do so mandated that the charge be dismissed. The Centre County judge agreed with the defense and dismissed the charge.  An expungement petition was filed to have the dismissed charge removed from the records.