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Criminal Practice — Resisting an Officer – I.D. – First Impression – Assault on an Officer

State v. Friend (Lawyers Weekly No. 14-07-1122, 11 pp.) (Chris Dillon, J.) Appealed from Hertford County Superior Court (Cy Grant, J.) N.C. App.

Holding: The failure to provide information about one’s identity during a lawful stop can constitute resistance, delay, or obstruction within the meaning of G.S. § 14-223.

We find no error in defendant’s convictions of injury to personal property; assault on a government officer; resisting, delaying, or obstructing a public officer; and assault causing physical injury on a law enforcement officer.

There are, of course, circumstances where one would be excused from providing his or her identity to an officer, and, therefore, not subject to prosecution under § 14-223. For instance, the Fifth Amendment’s protection against compelled self-incrimination might justify a refusal to provide such information; however, as the U.S. Supreme Court has observed, “Answering a request to disclose a name is likely to be so insignificant in the scheme of things as to be incriminating only in unusual circumstances.” Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial Dist. Court of Nev., 542 U.S. 177 (2004). In the present case, defendant has not made any showing that he was justified in refusing to provide his identity to Officer Benton.

Unlike the offense of resisting, delaying, or obstructing an officer, criminal liability for the offense of assaulting an officer is not limited to situations where an officer is engaging in lawful conduct in the performance or attempted performance of his or her official duties. In any event, on the day in question, defendant had proven himself extremely uncooperative. By remaining at the jail to ensure the safety of other officers, Captain Sumner was discharging the duties of his office.

No error.

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