State v. Williamson, 19192-0-II

CourtCourt of Appeals of Washington
Citation84 Wn.App. 37,924 P.2d 960
Decision Date25 October 1996
Docket NumberNo. 19192-0-II,19192-0-II
PartiesThe STATE of Washington, Respondent, v. Spartacus B. WILLIAMSON, Appellant.

Page 37

84 Wn.App. 37
924 P.2d 960
The STATE of Washington, Respondent,
Spartacus B. WILLIAMSON, Appellant.
No. 19192-0-II.
Court of Appeals of Washington,
Division 2.
Oct. 25, 1996.

[924 P.2d 961]

Page 39

Mark Von Wahlde, Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, Tacoma, for respondent.

Pattie Mhoon (Court-appointed), Tacoma, for appellant.

SEINFELD, Chief Judge.

Spartacus Williamson appeals his convictions for being a minor in possession of a firearm and for obstructing a public servant. He contends that the information charging him with obstruction failed to state the essential elements of the crime. He also challenges the sufficiency of the evidence as to both offenses. We affirm the possession charge but conclude that the information did not properly charge the obstruction offense. Thus, we reverse the obstruction conviction.


Tacoma Police Officer Pat Frantz responded to a radio call reporting a fight "involving [the occupants of] a yellow pickup and two black males with a handgun" in a shopping center parking lot. The dispatcher said that store

Page 40

security personnel had followed the two suspects out of the parking lot and that one suspect was wearing a long brown coat and the other was dressed in a blue shirt. Frantz saw two persons matching the description of the suspects near the shopping center. Williamson was one of the suspects.

Frantz followed the suspects in his patrol car. He saw Williamson walk about 50 yards, then crouch and disappear into a hedge near a "little driveway." It appeared to Frantz that Williamson had a "shiny metal object" in his hand. Minutes later, Frantz saw Williamson knocking on the front door of the house behind the hedge.

After police backup arrived, Frantz approached Williamson and searched him for a weapon. He did not find a weapon on Williamson's person, but in a search of the hedge where Williamson had first disappeared, police found a loaded, .38 caliber silver handgun.

Frantz read Williamson his Miranda 1 rights and asked him for his name. Williamson replied, "Christopher Columbus." Frantz testified that Williamson again stated "Christopher Columbus" when asked for his name at the police station. In order to determine Williamson's true identity, Frantz sent him to the identification department for a fingerprint check. It took about 30 to 45 minutes to complete this process and determine that "Christopher Columbus" was Spartacus Williamson.

The State charged Williamson with being a minor in possession of a firearm and with obstructing a public servant. The information described the obstruction count as follows:

And I, JOHN W. LADENBURG, Prosecuting Attorney aforesaid, do accuse the respondent of the additional crime of OBSTRUCTING A PUBLIC SERVANT, committed as follows:

That SPARTACUS B. WILLIAMSON, in Pierce County, Washington, on or about the 7th day of December, 1994, did

Page 41

unlawfully and knowingly, hinder, delay or obstruct Officer P. Frantz, a public servant in the discharge of his official powers and duties, contrary to RCW 9A.76.020(3), and against the peace and dignity of the State of Washington.

To prove this charge at trial, the State introduced evidence that Williamson, after his arrest, provided Frantz with a false name, thereby forcing Frantz to go through additional work to establish his identity.

[924 P.2d 962] The juvenile court found Williamson guilty as charged. In its findings of fact, the court stated:

Officer Frantz advised Williamson of his Miranda rights which Williamson acknowledged and waived. The officer then asked Williamson's name. Williamson responded "Christopher Columbus". At the police station, Officer Frantz again asked Williamson his name ... and [Williamson] again stated that he was "Christopher Columbus". An officer then took Williamson to the booking area where he was printed and photographed as a part of the booking process. Two officers then ran [Williamson's] prints through the computer to see if they could discover [Williamson's] true name. He was identified as Spartacus Williamson. Officer Frantz testified that it took approximately one half hour to forty-five minutes to find [Williamson's] true name.

Based on this finding, the trial court concluded:

That Spartacus Williamson is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the crime of Obstructing a Public Servant, in that, on December 7, 1994, he: gave a false name to a police officer on two occasions and refused to give his true name. Two Tacoma Police Officers were hindered and delayed in their jobs while they worked to determine from his fingerprints what [Williamson's] true name [was].


Williamson challenges the information for the first time on appeal, contending that it did not provide him with

Page 42

sufficient notice of the legal elements and factual circumstances of the obstruction charge. Specifically, he argues that the State erred (1) by charging him with violating a statute that has been repealed, and (2) by charging him with a means of committing obstruction that was inapplicable to the facts.

A charging document is generally constitutionally sufficient if it notifies a criminal defendant of the nature of the accusation with reasonable certainty, thereby permitting the defendant to develop a proper defense and to offer any resulting judgment as a bar to a second prosecution for the same offense. State v. Davis, 60 Wash.App. 813, 816, 808 P.2d 167 (1991), aff'd, 119 Wash.2d 657, 835 P.2d 1039 (1992). When a statute sets forth alternative means by which a crime can be committed, the charging document may charge none, one, or all of the alternatives, provided the alternatives charged are not repugnant to one another. State v. Noltie, 116 Wash.2d 831, 842, 809 P.2d 190 (1991); State v. Severns, 13 Wash.2d 542, 548, 125 P.2d 659 (1942); State v. Bray, 52 Wash.App. 30, 34, 756 P.2d 1332 (1988). If the information alleges only one alternative, however, it is error for the factfinder to consider uncharged alternatives, regardless of the strength of the evidence presented at trial. Bray, 52 Wash.App. at 34, 756 P.2d 1332 (holding that trial court...

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28 cases
  • City of Shoreline v. McLemore, 95707-0
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • April 18, 2019
    ...was charged with obstruction for falsely telling 193 Wash.2d 250police his name was " ‘Christopher Columbus.’ " 84 Wash.App. 37, 45, 924 P.2d 960 (1996). Similarly, in Williams, the defendant was convicted for giving a false name to police during a traffic stop. 171 Wash.2d at 476, 251 P.3d......
  • State v. E.J.J., 88694–6.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • June 25, 2015
    ...conviction of the defendant who falsely told police his name was “ ‘Christopher Columbus.’ ” State v. Williamson, 84 Wash.App. 37, 45, 924 P.2d 960 (1996). The court reasoned that the defendant's response was speech, not conduct. Williamson, 84 Wash.App. at 43–45, 924 P.2d 960.¶ 7 In Willia......
  • State v. Williams, 83992–1.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • May 12, 2011
    ...9A.76.020. ¶ 14 The Court of Appeals was the first to interpret the newly arranged statute. State v. Williamson, 84 Wash.App. 37, 43–45, 924 P.2d 960 (1996). Police encountered Spartacus Williamson when they responded to a call about a fight in a parking lot. Id. at 39–40, 924 P.2d 960. Whe......
  • State v. Franks, 43678-3-I.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • April 23, 2001
    ...98 Wash.App. 214, 989 P.2d 1184 (1999). State v. Johnstone, 96 Wash.App. 839, 982 P.2d 119 (1999). State v. Williamson, 84 Wash.App. 37, 924 P.2d 960 (1996). State v. Sloan, 79 Wash.App. 553, 903 P.2d 522 (1995). State v. Kitchen, 61 Wash.App. 915, 812 P.2d 888, review denied, 117 Wash.2d 1......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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