Constitutional Law, Arrest, Investigatory stop, Stop
and frisk, Assistance of counsel, Search and seizure.
Search and Seizure, Arrest, Inventory, Automobile.
Name. Practice, Criminal, Motion to
suppress, Required finding, Instructions to jury, New trial,
Assistance of counsel.
Victoria L. Nadel for the defendant.
H. Townsend, Special Assistant District Attorney, for the
defendant, Sean Brantley, appeals from the judgments after
his convictions by a Superior Court jury of possession of
cocaine and furnishing a false name to a law enforcement
officer. The defendant contends that (1) his motion
to suppress evidence should have been allowed; (2) the
evidence was insufficient to establish beyond a reasonable
doubt the elements of furnishing a false name; (3) the jury
instructions on furnishing a false name were incorrect; and
(4) defense counsel was ineffective because he improperly
conceded the defendant's guilt to furnishing a false
name. We discuss the facts where relevant.
Motion to suppress.
defendant filed a motion to suppress evidence on the grounds
that the search and seizure of the defendant and his vehicle
were not based on reasonable suspicion or probable cause.
After an evidentiary hearing, the motion judge denied the
motion and made the following findings:
"In this matter, Commonwealth vs. Sean Brantley, the
court finds Sgt. Toledo credible. I credit his testimony in
its entirety. I adopt his testimony as the court's
findings of fact. Based on those findings, I find that Sgt.
Toledo ha[d] reasonable suspicions, based on specific and
articulated facts, to stop the motor vehicle for its failure
to stop for a stop sign.
"I then find significantly that the officer on multiple
occasions ordered the defendant to stop and that the
defendant, in fact, fled from that particular location.
"Consequently, I find that the search of his person was
a valid search, incident to arrest, and that the inventory
search was similarly valid, consistent with the written
inventory policy of the Springfield Police
defendant argues that he did not commit an arrestable offense
and therefore the search could not be justified as a search
incident to arrest. Here, the initial stop of the
defendant's vehicle was valid as a routine traffic stop.
The stop was no longer routine once the defendant, after
stopping, backed up the vehicle three to five feet in the
direction of the officer. The officer could see the defendant
staring at him in the rearview mirror. Only when the officer
activated two bursts from his air horn did the defendant
fully stop. The defendant then "leapt" out of the
vehicle. The officer immediately ordered him back into the
vehicle, but the defendant refused to comply, and ran from
to stop a vehicle when ordered to do so by a police officer
is an arrestable offense. See G. L. c. 90, §§ 21
and 25. The defendant attempts to escape the application of
§ 25 by arguing that he was no longer inside the
automobile when ordered to stop. The Supreme Judicial Court
has held, however, that the phrase "operating or in
charge of a motor vehicle" in § 25 "connotes
active control of a vehicle by a driver placed either in the
vehicle or in such physical proximity that he might drive
away." Commonwealth v. Schiller, 377
Mass. 10, 12 (1979). Furthermore, the defendant's
operation of the vehicle, backward toward the officer after
being pulled over, established probable cause to support
arrest for this offense. The motion to suppress was properly
Sufficiency of the evidence: furnishing a false
counsel conceded in his opening statement that the defendant
provided the police with a false name. The defendant argues,
however, that his motion for a required finding on this
charge should have been allowed because he provided the false
name prior to his arrest, while the statute contains
the phrase "following an arrest." G. L. c. 268,
§ 34A. A rational jury could have found that the
defendant furnished a false name beginning with his capture
and extending through the booking procedure. Therefore, even
if an arrest is viewed as occurring only after a formal
arrest and not at the point of seizure with probable cause,
the elements of the statute have been satisfied. Moreover, as
with the crime of resisting arrest, the appropriate question
is not whether there had been a formal arrest, but rather,
whether a reasonable person in the defendant's
circumstances would have understood that he was under arrest.
Cf. Commonwealth v. Grant, 71 Mass.App.Ct.
205, 208 (2008).
Jury instruction: furnishing a false name.
defendant claims that the jury instruction was incorrect
because it did not distinguish between the use of the false
name prior to arrest and the use of the false name after
arrest. The defendant ignores the fact that the trial judge
gave the model jury instructions almost verbatim and they
were correct. Even if the instructions were incorrect, where