Court of Appeals, April 26, 2012

2012 COA 75. No. 11CA0928. People in the Interest of C.F.False Reporting of Bomb—Location of Person When Threats Made—Failure to Prove Elements of Offenses. The People appealed the district court’s acquittal of the juvenile, ruling that the prosecution failed  to prove that the juvenile 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 acquittal was affirmed.

C.F. left telephone messages at two schools; and each call threatened to blow up the schools.  At trial, C.F. 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 each of the charges.

The court found that to meet 18-8-110, there must be proof of a report that a bomb was placed in a location.  The People argued that CRS §18-8-110 does not require proof that the report of a bomb (or other prohibited item or substance) had been placed in any particular location. 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 district court read the clause “on the premises of any educational institution or at or in any building or other facility being used by any educational institution” in section 18-9-109(2) as requiring proof that C.F. was on school premises when he made the threats.  The People 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.