James N. Toler, Appellant,
United States, Appellee.
Submitted October 3, 2018
from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia
(CF2-13312-16) (Hon. Maribeth Raffinan, Trial Judge)
Williams was on the brief for appellant.
K. Liu, United States Attorney, and Elizabeth Trosman, Ethan
L. Carroll, and Anwar L. Graves, Assistant United States
Attorneys, were on the brief for appellee.
Beckwith and McLeese, Associate Judges, and Steadman, Senior
STEADMAN, SENIOR JUDGE
his convictions for several firearm offenses, appellant James
Toler argues that (1) all his convictions must be reversed
because he was required to reveal his social security number
without a prior Miranda warning, and (2) his
convictions for possession of unregistered firearms must be
reversed because the government failed to prove as an element
of the offense that the firearms were not "antique"
firearms. We disagree and therefore affirm the judgment.
August 18, 2016, around 5:30 p.m., members of the Gun
Recovery Unit (GRU) of the Metropolitan Police Department
(MPD) arrived at appellant's home to execute
a search warrant to recover firearms. In the course of the
search, the GRU officers handcuffed appellant and, prior to
any Miranda warnings, asked him for his name, date
of birth, phone number, and social security number, all of
which he readily provided. During the course of the search,
officers recovered two revolvers, a shotgun, two gun
holsters, a speed loader, two gun cleaning kits, assorted
ammunition, an ammunition case, and appellant's apartment
lease. Appellant was then charged with one count of unlawful
possession of a firearm in violation of D.C. Code §
22-4503(a)(1) (2018 Supp.), three counts of possession of an
unregistered firearm in violation of D.C. Code §
7-2502.01(a) (2018 Repl.), and three counts of unlawful
possession of ammunition in violation of D.C. Code §
7-2506.01(a)(3) (2018 Repl.). He pled not guilty and
proceeded to trial.
three-day jury trial was bifurcated. In the first phase,
appellant was convicted on all counts of possession of
unregistered firearms and unlawful possession of ammunition.
In the second phase, appellant was convicted of unlawful
possession of a firearm, based on his prior conviction of a
"crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding
one year." As proof of his prior conviction, the
government introduced a certified copy of a U.S. Marine Corps
court martial conviction record from the Department of the
Navy, which stated that James Toler was convicted of a crime
punishable by more than one year in prison. The government
then replayed an excerpt of the video from one of the GRU
officer's body-worn cameras, which had been shown in the
first phase of the trial, and in which appellant stated his
name and social security number, and also volunteered that he
was a former Marine. The prosecutor argued to the jury that
appellant was the same person as the one on the conviction
record because the name and social security number that
appellant recited in the video matched the name and social
security number appearing on the record as well on
appellant's apartment lease.
Admission of Biographical Information (Social Security
appellant contends that, during the search of his home, he
was subjected to custodial interrogation without a
Miranda warning. In particular, he flatly asserts
that, had he not stated his social security number in
response to an officer's question, the government would
not have been able to link him to the prior conviction that
served as a predicate conviction for his unlawful possession
of a firearm conviction or to show that his firearms and
ammunition were not registered in the District of Columbia.
He argues that, because the officer's questions -
particularly as to his social security number - did not fall
within the so-called "routine-booking exception" to
Miranda, his biographical statements during the
search were improperly obtained and improperly admitted at
the doctrine first announced by the Supreme Court in
Miranda v. Arizona, "[t]he government is
constitutionally precluded by the Fifth Amendment from using
in its case-in-chief a defendant's statement, whether
exculpatory or inculpatory, stemming from custodial
interrogation unless the defendant has been advised of his
right to remain silent." Johnson v. United
States, 40 A.3d 1, 13 (D.C. 2012) (citing Miranda v.
Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966)). We have stated
that "[c]ustodial interrogation refers not only to
express questioning, but also to any words or actions on the
part of the police (other than those normally attendant to
arrest and custody) that the police should know are
reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response from
the suspect." Id. (citation and internal
quotation marks omitted).
"routine questions related to the booking process . . .
are not usually considered interrogation under
Miranda, for such questions are not normally likely
to elicit incriminating answers." Id. (citing
Thomas v. United States, 731 A.2d 415, 424-26 (D.C.
1999) (internal quotation marks omitted)). Questions that
fall under this routine booking exception to Miranda
include "'biographical data necessary to complete
booking or pretrial services[, ]' such as questions
regarding the name, address, height, weight, eye color, date
of birth, and age of the suspect." Id. (quoting
Pennsylvania v. Muniz, 496 U.S. 582, 600 (1990)).
case, the government conceded and the trial court found that
appellant was in custody when the GRU officers asked for his
social security number and other information. However, the
trial court, citing Thomas v. United States, 731
A.2d 415 (D.C. 1999), and Jones v. United States,
779 A.2d 277 (D.C. 2001) (en banc), found that the
officers' conduct did not constitute interrogation, as
the questions regarding appellant's name, phone number,
and social security number were not ...