Providing False Information to a Police Officer – Mistaken Identity

A case of Mistaken Identity, which I began handing in a local Macomb County District Court in the week of August 17, 2009, may have been entirely avoided, and will become certainly become completely avoidable, based upon new technology and equipment issued to Law Enforcement Agencies later that same week.

According to an August 19, 2009 article in the Oakland Press, “New Technology will help ID Suspects in 35 Seconds,” a new handheld device can scan just two prints of a person’s forefinger and identify the subject within 35 seconds. The device is to first be provided to the Sheriff’s Departments in Macomb, Oakland and Washtenaw County, along with Police Departments in Clinton Township, Auburn Hills, Ferndale, Novi, Oak Park, Southfield, Waterford, Wixom, Dearborn and Westland.

fingerprint_scanners_250x251.jpgAs the lawyer representing this man charged with Retail Fraud in the Third Degree (stealing from a store). It is alleged he tried to steal hundreds of dollars worth of baby formula from a local grocery chain. When the suspect was detained in the store, he had no identification on his person, and used the name of his brother, my client, because he knew that his brother had a clean record and he knew his brother’s birthday by heart. Because the name his brother provided, (my client’s name), came up with a clean record, the Police, rather than arrest the suspect, released him at the scene and told him notice from the Court would be forthcoming.

It worked so well, he did it again. When my client received his first notice to appear in Court, he was shocked to learn that he had been charged with a crime. Not only did he not commit these offenses, my client, unlike his troubled brother, was punched-in and verifiably at work during the time these incidents occurred.

The first case was dropped after he came to Court with his work records and a letter from his boss validating them. The records showed he both punched in and out of work on the day in question, and, given the time of the suspect’s actions and his subsequent detainment, that would have been impossible for my client to do. The same outcome is expected in the current case.

Had this device been available at the time my client’s brother Provided False Information to a Police Officer, these situations could have been avoided. My client has now lost two-½ days from work, and will lose another ½ day before everything is resolved. Moreover, the Police would have correctly identified and charged the right person, saving them the additional work of trying to track him down later.

This technology might be bad news for individuals like my client’s brother, but it would have saved both the Police and my client a lot of time and work had it been available before.