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People v. Weathington

OPINION FILED SEPTEMBER 17, 1979.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

RONALD JEROME WEATHINGTON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Champaign County; the Hon. HAROLD L. JENSEN and the Hon. ROGER H. LITTLE, Judges, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE CRAVEN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Defendant, then aged 17, was charged with aggravated battery and obstructing a police officer (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 38, pars. 12-4 and 31-1, respectively) and was found guilty of both charges by a jury. The trial court granted defendant's motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict on the aggravated battery charge, but denied a similar motion on the obstructing charge. Defendant was sentenced to 1 year's conditional discharge for obstructing a police officer, the sentence to run concurrently with a disposition in a juvenile case.

On September 8, 1978, two officers were driving an unmarked car in the area of Champaign Centennial High School. They saw defendant and several other youths throwing dice in the high school parking lot. One of the officers approached defendant and began talking with him. Defendant's discussion with the officer led to defendant's arrest for the charge of aggravated battery. Defendant was transported to Champaign County jail.

At the station, Officer John Schuffert asked defendant for his name, address, birthdate, birth place, social security number, occupation, and physical description. Initially, defendant refused to give any information to Schuffert, even though Schuffert asked for defendant's identification several times. Schuffert warned defendant that he was required by law to disclose the information, and after numerous requests, defendant gave his name, address, and date of birth. Defendant refused to disclose any further information. Defendant was then placed in a holding cell, and, after a few minutes, he agreed to provide the rest of the information.

Defendant admitted that he refused to answer all of Schuffert's questions until after he was placed in the holding cell. Defendant also indicated that he requested the use of the telephone to call his family, but Schuffert would not allow defendant to do so until he answered all of Schuffert's questions. After defendant answered Schuffert's booking questions, defendant was allowed to place a telephone call to his family.

On appeal, defendant argues that the United States and Illinois constitutions bar his prosecution for refusing to answer the officer's booking questions after arrest. Defendant also argues that his conduct does not constitute the offense of obstructing a police officer. Since we agree with defendant that his conduct did not constitute a crime, we need not address his constitutional claim.

Section 31-1 of the Criminal Code of 1961 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 38, par. 31-1) states:

"A person who knowingly resists or obstructs the performance by one known to the person to be a peace officer of any authorized act within his official capacity commits a Class A misdemeanor."

The information charging defendant with obstructing states:

"[The defendant] did knowingly obstruct the performance by John Schuffert of an authorized act within his official capacity, namely: booking the defendant at Champaign Police Dept. and the said defendant did then and there refuse to give any booking information while the said defendant knew that John Schuffert was a police officer * * *."

The State cites Migliore v. County of Winnebago (1974), 24 Ill. App.3d 799, 321 N.E.2d 476, to argue that the defendant was obligated to answer the officer's booking questions. In Migliore, the officers requested the identity of the person upon whom they were attempting to serve a subpoena. The person repeatedly refused to disclose his identity and was arrested. At the station, the person was booked and finally gave the officers his name and address. The appellate court found that the police were under a legal duty to serve the subpoena and that the performance of their duty included determining the identity of the person sought to be served. The court also held that Migliore, upon being informed of the subpoena, was under a legal duty to give the officers his name so as not to evade the service of process.

We find Migliore is unpersuasive. Migliore is a civil matter involving the evasion of the court's process. The officers in Migliore were under a court order and had a statutory duty to serve the subpoena and this included determining the identity of the person they were serving. The present case is a criminal matter involving the issue of whether the defendant's refusal to provide booking information amounts to the crime of obstructing a police officer. Despite Officer Schuffert's admonitions to defendant that defendant was required by law to answer booking questions, we know of no law which requires the defendant to provide booking information. After arrest, an accused has a right to remain silent (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 38, par. 103-2), and he has a statutory right to make a reasonable number of telephone calls to his family or attorney within a reasonable time after his arrival at the first place of custody (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 38, par. 103-3).

• 1 It is clear that Miranda warnings are not required for questions asked during the booking process:

"The preliminary questions asked an accused with respect to his name and address, which are part of the booking proceedings certainly do not amount to an interrogation in order to elicit incriminating testimony or admissions from the defendant." People v. Fognini (1970), 47 Ill.2d 150, 152, 265 ...


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