EVIDENCE

False Identification • Public Drunkenness • Suppression of Evidence • Sufficiency of Evidence

Commonwealth v. Greely, PICS Case No. 14-4081 (C.P. Berks Jan. 16, 2014) Boccabella, J. (7 pages).

Where a defendant provided a correct Social Security number despite providing an incorrect name and date of birth, the Social Security number was sufficient identification; and where a defendant was not a danger to himself or others or acted in an aggressive or violent manner, such conduct did not rise to the level of public drunkenness. Granted.

Defendant Brian Thomas Greely motioned to suppress evidence stemming from his arrest for providing false identification to a law enforcement officer and public drunkenness, and simultaneously filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus.

Defendant was a passenger in a vehicle parked in a parking lot when it was approached by Officer Rocco DeCamillo. Officer DeCamillo requested identification from defendant and the driver of the vehicle; defendant had no identification, but provided Officer DeCamillo with an incorrect name and date of birth, and his correct Social Security number. Officer DeCamillo observed that defendant’s speech was slurred and his eyes were bloodshot and glassy; he also observed a half-filled bottle of tequila between defendant’s legs. When Officer DeCamillo returned to his vehicle to confirm both parties’ identification, defendant stepped out from his vehicle; when ordered to return, defendant ran off.

The court held that defendant did not commit the statutory offense of providing of false identification to law enforcement authorities. The court noted that the offense could only be committed after being informed of what the law enforcement officer was investigating, but that Officer DeCamillo never informed defendant or the driver of the vehicle what he was investigating. The court further noted that although defendant provided an incorrect name and date of birth, he did provide his correct Social Security number, which the court found was sufficient to provide identification.

The court also held that the commonwealth presented insufficient evidence to establish a prima facie case of public drunkenness. The court found that although Officer DeCamillo observed signs of drunkenness on the defendant and an open bottle of liquor between his legs, he was not absolutely sure of the defendant being under the influence. Furthermore, the court noted that defendant did not act in any way that endangered himself, others, or property, or annoy people in his vicinity.

Accordingly, because the commonwealth could not establish probable cause, the court held that any evidence derived from the stop was inadmissible as fruit of the poisonous tree. And because the commonwealth could not establish a prima facie case, the court granted defendant’s petition for writ of habeas corpus.