August 21, 2019

Colorado Court of Appeals: People Failed to Prove All Elements of Crime Against Delinquent Juvenile for Bomb Threats

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People in the Interest of C.F. on April 26, 2012.

False Reporting of Bomb—Location of Person When Threats Made—Failure to Prove Elements of Offenses.

The People appealed the district court’s rulings that the prosecution had not proved that C.F., a juvenile, had committed acts that, if committed by an adult, would constitute the offenses of (1) falsely reporting an explosive, weapon, or harmful substance; and (2) interfering with the staff, faculty, or students of an educational institution. The rulings were approved.

C.F. left telephone messages for two schools threatening to blow up the schools. At trial, C.F. essentially conceded that he had made the calls and did not dispute the substance of what he had said. The district court acquitted C.F. of all charges, however, finding that the prosecution had failed to prove an element of the charges.

The People argued that CRS §18-8-110 does not require proof that C.F. reported that a bomb (or other prohibited item or substance) had been placed. The statute specifically requires, however, that the People prove that the defendant reported that the bomb (or other prohibited item or substance) “has been placed in any public or private place or vehicle designed for the transportation of persons or property.” The substance of C.F.’s reports did not support an inference that bombs had been, at the time of the reports, placed somewhere.

The People also argued that CRS §18-9-109(2) does not require proof that C.F. was at the schools when he interfered with school operations. The clause in this statute, however, unambiguously concerns where the person charged is located when he engages in activity proscribed by the statute. Because C.F. was not at the schools when he made these threats, the prosecution failed to prove this element of the charges. Therefore, the district court did not err in finding that the prosecution had failed to prove all elements of these offenses beyond a reasonable doubt.

Summary and full case available here.

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