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Unlawful act by officer

Discussion in 'Criminal Procedure, Criminal Court' started by for4kids, Aug 4, 2001.

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  1. for4kids

    for4kids Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Scenario: Ca. police officer obtained D.O.J. computer generated criminal history printouts on people absolutely unrelated to any case officer is working on. They were for personal use/gain. Printouts were found in the home and now in possession of PD. Current investigation/interviews with other person that has knowledge of what was done with the info obtained from these printouts.
    Question: What happens now?? Isnt it pretty black and white?? Its a crime..can it be covered up? Isnt it actually a federal crime? The investigating officers said that the info will now be turned over to the D.A. Is each rap sheet considered a 'count'? What is the possible sentence??

    Thank you for any input.
     
  2. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    I think that here it would all depend upon how the statute prohibiting the conduct reads. My guess is that the statute reads that it is illegal to take a record for non-official uses and that each record would constitute a violation of this law. This is a criminal case and difficult to say how it turns out unless we know the actual charge and statute. There may be civil implications too whereby those who have been wronged, if in a material sense, may have a remedy. Of course, one shouldn't sue unless there truly has been material harm and it doesn't pay to sue unless the damage is somewhat material and substantial. :D
     
  3. for4kids

    for4kids Law Topic Starter New Member

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    additional question related to previous post

    Thank you, Michael, for your response. I have an additional question relating to this matter. What happens as far as children of this person if he is sentenced to jail time. Am I correct in that it is a federal offense because the act was 'against' the D.O.J.??
    If he loses his job will the P.D. make sure his family is taken care of? They covered up so much to protect him but 8 months later independent investigators found the truth and there is just no covering it up anymore. What happens to the family?
     
  4. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    I can't say I know for certain since I don't have prior experience in this area. My guess is that the matter concerning children is sent to the relevant child welfare division and could potentially involve state custody. In more typical cases it would seem that there is another interested party that petitions family court for custody of the children, e.g. the other non-custodial parent.

    I can't answer the question about whether or not the act is a federal offense. Just because a federal agency is involved in some manner does not mean that the crime committed is a violation of federal statute.

    FWIW, to me it doesn't matter whether an offense is state or federal for the sake of being one of the two. The important factor to me is how to deal with the law concerning the matter and what the consequences are for violation. I tend to find that federal matters are typically of higher consequence than states, which are usually left to deal with the general policing of local areas and routine matters. With regard to consequence I mean more of intensity -- cases are less frequent and usually means closer scrutiny.
     

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