Thus the evidence is insufficient to establish that Officer #1 requested Mr. Frye to disclose his name, address, or date of birth.

 

State v. Frye

2023 – Ohio – 2967

First District Appellate Court

Hamilton County, Ohio

August 25, 2023

Mr. Zee Frye was charged with failing to disclose personal information when requested by a law enforcement officer. According to the complaint, Mr. Frye refused to disclose his name, address, or date of birth. Mr. Frye proceeded to a bench trial, where the sole witness presented was Officer #1.

Mr. Frye Violated City Code

Officer #1 testified that he and Officer #2 approached Mr. Frye at Smale Riverfront Park at 11:10 p.m. because remaining in the park after it closed at 11:00 p.m. was a criminal offense. Officer #1 testified that Mr. Frye did not provide his address, social security number, or date of birth. That evening, Officer #1 was wearing a body-worn camera, and the video was played and admitted into evidence.

Note: Both Officer #1 and Officer #2 names are identified in the case but are redacted in this article.

Officer #1 testified that he and Officer #2 approached Mr. Frye at Smale Riverfront Park at 11:10 p.m. because remaining in the park after it closed at 11:00 p.m. was a criminal offense. The park is nestled between Paycor Stadium where the Bengals play and the Great American Ballpark where the Reds play.

Trial Court Found Mr. Frye Guilty of Failing to Disclose his Identification

After watching the recording and hearing Officer #1’s testimony, the trial court found Mr. Frye guilty. Mr. Frye appeals arguing there was insufficient evidence that he failed to disclose his name, address or date of birth because the officer never asked him to provide that information.

In reviewing a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, a reviewing court must determine whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime had been proved beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Failure to Disclose Personal Information

O.R.C. §2921.29

Mr. Frye was convicted of failing to provide personal information, a violation of O.R.C. §2921.29(A)(1), which provides:

(A) No person who is in a public place shall refuse to disclose the person’s name, address, or date of birth, when requested by a law enforcement officer who reasonably suspects either of the following:
(1) The person is committing, has committed, or is about to commit a criminal offense.

Body Worn Camera Captures the Colloquy but Was it Unlawful?

Mr. Frye admits that Officer #1 reasonably suspected him of committing the crime of remaining in a park after hours. Mr. Frye contends that Officer #1 never requested that he disclose his name, address, or date of birth. The video depicts the following exchange:

Officer #1: Alright sir, do you have your ID on you?

Mr. Frye: I don’t need a corporate instrument.

Officer #1: Take your hand out of your pocket. Take your hand out of your pocket.

Mr. Frye: I don’t need a corporate instrument.

Officer #1: Sir, take your hand out of your pocket.

Mr. Frye: You don’t tell me what to do.

Officer #1: Sir, take your hand out of your pocket.

Mr. Frye: I’m a Moorish National.

Officer #1: Sir, take your hand out of your pocket.

Request for an Identification Card is Distinguishable from Asking for Name, Address and Date of Birth

A review of the video confirms that Mr. Frye was not asked to disclose his name, address, or date of birth. Instead, Officer #1 asked him whether he had his “ID” on him. Basically, Officer #1 inquired whether he had an identification card or driver’s license on his person. Officer #1 did not ask him to disclose his name, address, or date of birth. Thus the evidence is insufficient to establish that Officer #1 requested Mr. Frye to disclose his name, address, or date of birth.

Established Case Law on Failure to Disclose Personal Information

The city argues that Officer #1 requested Mr. Frye’s identification which was “tantamount to requesting the personal information contained [on the identification].” We first note that the city provided no authority for this proposition, and we could find none. Additionally, Officer #1 did not ask him to provide his identification card, he merely asked Mr. Frye if he had his identification card with him. Moreover, the plain language of O.R.C. §2921.29(A)(1) does not authorize a law enforcement officer to request an identification card or driver’s license. See McKee v. McCann, 2017-Ohio- 7181, (8th Dist.) (Noting that “[A]lthough the production of a physical identification card is a common way to comply with O.R.C. §2921.29(A), we agree with McKee, in this reconsidered opinion, that the statute, as worded, does not require a person to produce an identification card. A person complies with O.R.C. §2921.29(A) by verbally disclosing the person’s name, address, or date of birth.”. 

Holding

Accordingly, we sustain the first assignment of error.

Judgment reversed and appellant discharged.

Information for this article was obtained from State v. Frye, 2023 – Ohio – 2967.

State v. Frye, 2023 – Ohio – 2967 was issued by the First District Appellate Court on August 25, 2023 and is binding in Hamilton County, Ohio.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Letter of the Law – This case is an example of where common-sense ends and the letter of the law begins. Clearly the officer was asking Mr. Frye to identify himself when he asked Mr. Frye for his identification but the law is clear that an officer must ask a suspect for his name, address and date of birth.  Because the trial court applied common sense to the law Mr. Frye was convicted at trial level, but the First District Appellate Court overturned the decision.
  2. Failure to Disclose Personal Information – Law enforcement must establish reasonable suspicion that a suspect has committed or is about to commit a crime before detaining the suspect and requesting the suspect identifying information – see O.R.C. §2921.29. However, this case underscores the importance that officers must specifically ask a suspect for his name, address and date of birth and not just an identification card.
  3. Moorish National – A Moorish National is a subset of Sovereign Citizens who do not believe in the criminal justice system and many other operations of the United States of America. Law enforcement should be very cautious when encountering Sovereign Citizens who at times, can be violent.

Does your agency train on Failure to Disclose Personal Information?

Don’t fail your training.

Don’t let your training fail you!

Be safe, smart and Objectively Reasonable!

Robert H. Meader Esq.