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  1. #1

    Default False Police Report Against Student

    My question involves education law in the State of: California

    An instructor filed a harassment report with campus police against a student over email communications. Campus police concluded no crime was committed. Once a copy of the report was obtained by the student, the evidence submitted by the instructor was found to be tampered with. The instructor had omitted email header information that falsifies the harassment accusation and would have placed campus police out of jurisdiction.

    All three criteria of what constitutes filing a false police report in California seem to be present. The report was filed with law enforcement officials, the conclusion is no crime and tampered evidence showing the instructor knew s/he was filing a false report.

    Where can the student take their case considering campus police have ignored requests to report the crime and college officials have declined to take action against the instructor?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: False Police Report Against Student

    If the student believes a tort was committed and that they can meet the associated burden of proof in court, and can substantiate damages, the student is free to file a civil lawsuit.

  3. #3

    Default Re: False Police Report Against Student

    Same issue, different question.

    The student was informed this report reads as a student conduct violation in public records, even though the college determined none were violated. Can campus police legally do this?

    The student was also informed this is typical of them to do...to close a code violation case as a violation without verification from the college if a violation had been made.

    Seriously...can they legally do this?

    The student was also told by the Chief of campus police that knowingly filing a false police report and tampering with evidence are not crimes and refused to take a report from the student even though they are the agency that took the report and it was shown there is missing information that would have placed them out of jurisdiction.

    Comments???

  4. #4
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    Default Re: False Police Report Against Student

    Quote Quoting spydrworks
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    An instructor filed a harassment report with campus police against a student over email communications. Campus police concluded no crime was committed. Once a copy of the report was obtained by the student, the evidence submitted by the instructor was found to be tampered with. The instructor had omitted email header information that falsifies the harassment accusation and would have placed campus police out of jurisdiction.
    That would not, by itself, have constituted a false report to the police. Even if he made the report with the wrong agency of jurisdiction, that does not constitute false reporting per PC 148.5.

    All three criteria of what constitutes filing a false police report in California seem to be present. The report was filed with law enforcement officials, the conclusion is no crime and tampered evidence showing the instructor knew s/he was filing a false report.
    How do you KNOW that the professor made the report KNOWING the allegation to be false? Are you saying that no email was received by the instructor and that he or she manufactured it? Can you prove this?

    Where can the student take their case considering campus police have ignored requests to report the crime and college officials have declined to take action against the instructor?
    As mentioned, you can articulate damages, hire an attorney, make a claim against the university and file suit if they deny the claim.

    If the police do not believe the elements of a criminal offense were present, they are not obligated to take a crime report. In fact, there are few instances where they are legally required to take ANY report of an allegation of criminal conduct.

    The student was informed this report reads as a student conduct violation in public records, even though the college determined none were violated. Can campus police legally do this?
    The contents of any police documentation might be obtained pursuant to a public records' check, but most law enforcement agencies do not release these reports as they consider them investigative files. But, in theory, the crime report can be discovered and read.

    Your student record should no be publicly accessible, however.

    The campus police do not control the California Public Records Act - the state legislature does.

    The student was also informed this is typical of them to do...to close a code violation case as a violation without verification from the college if a violation had been made.
    Interesting, but I'm not sure what this is. I suppose the agency can close a case with whatever disposition they choose, and if permitted by the administration they might be able to conclude it as a policy matter as opposed to a criminal one.

    The student was also told by the Chief of campus police that knowingly filing a false police report and tampering with evidence are not crimes and refused to take a report from the student even though they are the agency that took the report and it was shown there is missing information that would have placed them out of jurisdiction.
    Unless it can be shown that the person handing over the email with headers missing did so with the intent to mislead or falsify evidence then a crime might have occurred ... but, that's hard to prove absent a confession. This is why had it gone to trial the prosecutor would have wanted to see some record from the ISP indicating the mail was sent and received rather than merely a document produced by one party which could have been easily spoofed at either end - the sender might have pretended to be you, or the instructor might have wanted to frame you for some reason. Either way, the email by itself is not likely to be too persuasive without corroboration.

    INTENT is the issue. How can the instructor's knowing INTENT to make a false report be proven beyond a reasonable doubt?

    Further, the statute makes it a crime to knowingly make a false report of a misdemeanor or a felony. Since "harassment" is not a specific crime in CA, and people can make non-criminal reports to the police (though the police are not obligated to take them, but often do) the campus police likely felt the need to document the instructor's report. By reporting an incident that is not a misdemeanor or a felony 148.5 would not apply.
    **********
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

  5. #5

    Default Re: False Police Report Against Student

    How do you KNOW that the professor made the report KNOWING the allegation to be false? Are you saying that no email was received by the instructor and that he or she manufactured it? Can you prove this?
    INTENT is the issue. How can the instructor's knowing INTENT to make a false report be proven beyond a reasonable doubt?
    The student's emails show the missing information as well as in the saved mail stored in the student's email account. The student has them both saved and printed. If the instructor saved his originals prior to forwarding them to the reporting officer, then his originals would also show the missing information. If he deleted the originals I do not know if they can be retrieved any other way. Rather than print and submit the emails, he submitted them via email.

    Email header information can only be deleted in reply or forward mode. This can be tested by anyone. I do it myself with jokes that are forwarded to others. I delete my email information to hide it from strangers, but it can only be done in reply or forward mode. It's a conscientious and deliberate act.

    One of the goals the instructor had was to hand over these emails to college officials (as opposed to campus police...just to make that distinction). These emails contain private medical information about the student who had asked for confidentiality. Without hiding the true location of the incident, the report most likely would have been rejected or forwarded to the proper jurisdiction rather than forwarded to college officials for further investigation. Off campus issues are void of campus policy.

    It seems he hid the true location of the incident so these emails could be given to college officials and thus achieving his goals as stated in his threat to the student.

    In addition, there is one email apparently from a third person also with missing email header information and a time discrepancy server locations fail to explain when compared to another email header that is intact sent to the third person. It is possible the response in this email is falsified. The student only has a copy from the report.

    Interesting, but I'm not sure what this is. I suppose the agency can close a case with whatever disposition they choose, and if permitted by the administration they might be able to conclude it as a policy matter as opposed to a criminal one.
    This is beginning to become a situation itself. College officials were dishonest with the student and this can be shown in letters by college officials and compared to what campus police have on file. Furthermore it can be shown college officials were dishonest with other college officials over this case. This can be proven. Student rights violations?

    Further, the statute makes it a crime to knowingly make a false report of a misdemeanor or a felony. Since "harassment" is not a specific crime in CA, ... By reporting an incident that is not a misdemeanor or a felony 148.5 would not apply.
    The reporting officer was called on to investigate possible harassment and had to determine if a crime was committed. He made his assessment that no crime was committed, but the report seems to end as a student conduct code report after no crime was found.

    The student has a copy of this assessment.

    The oddest thing about this report is the description the instructor gave of the student is incorrect and is evident. It is impossible for the student to have had the hair described last time he saw the student, which was six months before the report was filed.

    BTW, harassment is a crime if a threat precedes the harassment, which is absent from the student to the instructor. However, there is a threat from the instructor to the student, which has gone completely ignored by the college. The student forwarded his threat with her concerns to college officials.

    Thanks for the time into this.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: False Police Report Against Student

    Sorry, but I do not see a crime here. While it is possible that a violation of PC 653m could have occurred if the student can be perceived to have threatened the professor (communication of threats by email applies) I do not see that the intent exists to prove the professor knowingly and intentionally made a false report of a crime to the campus police. Stripping header info (which can happen in some mail programs, and through inexperienced user) does not prove that the professor made the whole thing up. Reporting to the wrong jurisdiction is not be a crime.

    And, I suspect, that the "threat" from the professor to the student will likewise not rise to a criminal violation so that is likely a non-issue as well.

    So, let's leave the criminal angle.

    If the student feels that he was wronged by the university, can articulate tangible damages or a violation of school policy, then he can hire an attorney to look into the matter and determine whether a tort exists.
    **********
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

  7. #7

    Default Re: False Police Report Against Student

    Quote Quoting cdwjava
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    Sorry, but I do not see a crime here. While it is possible that a violation of PC 653m could have occurred if the student can be perceived to have threatened the professor (communication of threats by email applies) I do not see that the intent exists to prove the professor knowingly and intentionally made a false report of a crime to the campus police. Stripping header info (which can happen in some mail programs, and through inexperienced user) does not prove that the professor made the whole thing up. Reporting to the wrong jurisdiction is not be a crime.
    Even with other email communications (separate from the situation) between the same people (as well as others) through the same email systems, which in each the full headers are intact?

    I know reporting to the wrong jurisdiction is not a crime, but why would the wrong jurisdiction keep the file and forward a copy to college officials for further investigation rather than forwarding it to the proper jurisdiction?

    And, I suspect, that the "threat" from the professor to the student will likewise not rise to a criminal violation so that is likely a non-issue as well.

    So, let's leave the criminal angle.

    If the student feels that he was wronged by the university, can articulate tangible damages or a violation of school policy, then he can hire an attorney to look into the matter and determine whether a tort exists.
    If the student cannot afford to hire an attorney are there resources the student can use for legal assistance in a tort matter?

    I'm guessing the county courthouse? Any other suggestions?

  8. #8
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    Default Re: False Police Report Against Student

    Quote Quoting spydrworks
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    Even with other email communications (separate from the situation) between the same people (as well as others) through the same email systems, which in each the full headers are intact?
    It is not a crime to redact headers. It is the content of the messages that would be evaluated for a crime, and not the headers. And, as I said, reporting to the wrong jurisdiction is not a violation of PC 148.5. The reporter would have to knowingly and intentionally make a report of a crime that he or she knew to be false. This is a high burden to meet and rarely achieved.

    I know reporting to the wrong jurisdiction is not a crime, but why would the wrong jurisdiction keep the file and forward a copy to college officials for further investigation rather than forwarding it to the proper jurisdiction?
    If it is not a crime, why send it to some other jurisdiction? We don't send off reports to other jurisdictions if someone in mine gets a report that they received an annoying email from someone else. Absent a criminal act, why pass it on to someone else?

    And since it involves an instructor and a student at the university, it is a matter that may well involve the university - particularly if it were sent on university email or mail servers.

    If the student cannot afford to hire an attorney are there resources the student can use for legal assistance in a tort matter?
    Try legal aid ... if any such organisation exists in your county. Though, I don't see a tort. But, maybe.
    **********
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

  9. #9

    Default Re: False Police Report Against Student

    If it is not a crime, why send it to some other jurisdiction? We don't send off reports to other jurisdictions if someone in mine gets a report that they received an annoying email from someone else. Absent a criminal act, why pass it on to someone else?

    And since it involves an instructor and a student at the university, it is a matter that may well involve the university - particularly if it were sent on university email or mail servers.
    That's the point. The missing email header information, if kept intact would have shown the incident took place off campus, out of campus jurisdiction and void of campus policy. These emails were received and responded through servers belonging to other entities as opposed to the college.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: False Police Report Against Student

    Quote Quoting spydrworks
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    That's the point. The missing email header information, if kept intact would have shown the incident took place off campus, out of campus jurisdiction and void of campus policy. These emails were received and responded through servers belonging to other entities as opposed to the college.
    It's not 148.5. Unless the prof confesses to making the whole thing up, the false report allegation does not appear to exist as much as you would like to think it does.

    You can hire legal counsel to try and fight any campus discipline should you fail in your appeals. Understand that because of the student-instructor relationship the university can often exercise jurisdiction. Whether that was possible here would depend on the details.
    **********
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

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