Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Stephenson v. Commonwealth

Court of Appeals of Kentucky

December 1, 2017

WILLIAM STEPHENSON APPELLANT
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY APPELLEE

         APPEAL FROM KENTON CIRCUIT COURT HONORABLE KATHLEEN LAPE, JUDGE ACTION NO. 15-CR-00394-002

          BRIEF FOR APPELLANT: Stephen J. Buck Assistant Public Advocate Department of Public Advocacy Frankfort, Kentucky.

          BRIEF FOR APPELLEE: Andy Beshear Attorney General of Kentucky M. Brandon Roberts Assistant Attorney General Frankfort, Kentucky.

          BEFORE: DIXON, JOHNSON, AND MAZE, JUDGES.

          OPINION

          MAZE, JUDGE

         On May 28, 2015, a Kenton County grand jury returned an indictment charging William Wayne Stephenson, Jr. with one count each of first-degree possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, and theft of identity. Stephenson was later charged with being a persistent felony offender in the first degree (PFO I). Following a trial, the jury acquitted Stephenson of the possession charges, but convicted him of theft of identity. The jury fixed his sentence at five years' imprisonment, enhanced to fifteen years by virtue of his status as a PFO I. The trial court imposed the jury's sentence, and Stephenson now appeals from this judgment.

         Stephenson argues that the trial court erred by denying his motion for an instruction on giving a false name to a peace officer as a lesser-included offense to theft of identity. We agree, concluding that the false-name charge is a lesser-included offense to theft of identity, and the evidence in this case supported an instruction on both charges. Furthermore, we agree that the trial court erred when it allowed the Commonwealth Attorney to testify why he charged Stephenson with theft of identity rather than giving a false name. Therefore, we must vacate his convictions for theft of identity and PFO I, and remand this matter for a new trial.

         The charges in this case arose from a traffic stop which occurred on April 2, 2015. Prior to the stop, Covington Police Officer Gideon Craymer was observing two residences when he noticed someone sitting in a vehicle parked in front of one of the residences. Officer Craymer saw a person make several trips from the house to the car, confer with the individual inside, and then return to the house. On his last trip out, the second individual handed something to the passenger, then got in the vehicle and drove away. Officer Craymer later identified Stephenson as the passenger, and Raymond Klette as the driver and the person making trips to and from the house.

         As the vehicle drove away, Officer Craymer saw it make a turn without signaling. He contacted another officer, Officer Justin Schmidt, to stop the vehicle. Officer Craymer arrived shortly thereafter. After stopping the vehicle, Officer Schmidt asked the occupants to identify themselves. While Klette accurately identified himself, Stephenson identified himself as David Randle Reeves, and gave a birthdate of February 1, 1981.

         The officers became suspicious because Stephenson hesitated before giving the birth year. In addition, Officer Craymer was unable to locate any information for a person named David Randle Reeves with a birthdate of February 1, 1981. Officer Craymer warned Stephenson that giving a false name was a crime, but Stephenson again provided the same name and gave a partial social security number.

         Upon determining that Stephenson was lying, Officer Craymer removed Stephenson from the car and placed him under arrest. At that point, Stephenson gave Officer Craymer his true name and birthdate. Stephenson told Officer Craymer that David Reeves is his brother, but he was not sure of the birth year. Stephenson also explained that he gave the false name because he had an outstanding arrest warrant.

         During a search of the vehicle, the officers found a bag and a spoon with cocaine residue. Stephenson and Klette were both charged and jointly tried on the charges of possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. The trial court denied Stephenson's request to instruct the jury on the offense of giving a false name to a peace officer in addition to the instruction on theft of identity. Stephenson first argues that he was entitled to the instruction because giving a false name is a lesser-included offense to theft of identity.

         The Commonwealth responds that Stephenson failed to preserve this specific issue. We disagree. Stephenson's counsel tendered an instruction on giving a peace officer a false name. Counsel asked the court for the instruction in addition to the identity-theft charge. While counsel did not use the term "lesser-included offense, " the court interpreted it as such, holding that giving a false name is not a lesser-included offense to identity theft. We conclude that Stephenson adequately preserved the issue for appeal. RCr[1] 9.54(2)

         In denying the requested instruction, the trial court relied on Crouch v. Commonwealth, 323 S.W.3d 668 (Ky. 2010). In Crouch, the defendant was charged with identity theft, but moved to amend the charge to giving a peace officer a false name. Our Supreme Court held that a trial court lacks jurisdiction to change a valid indictment except as provided by RCr 6.16. The Rule permits a court to amend an indictment when an "additional or different offense is charged and if substantial rights of the defendant are not prejudiced." Since amending the felony identity-theft charge to the misdemeanor charge of giving a false name to a peace officer would have resulted in ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.