False academic credentials — Unlawful issuance or use — Definitions — Penalties.
(1) A person is guilty of issuing a false academic credential if the person knowingly:
(a) Grants or awards a false academic credential or offers to grant or award a false academic credential in violation of this section;
(b) Represents that a credit earned or granted by the person in violation of this section can be applied toward a credential offered by another person;
(c) Grants or offers to grant a credit for which a representation as described in (b) of this subsection is made; or
(d) Solicits another person to seek a credential or to earn a credit the person knows is offered in violation of this section.
(2) A person is guilty of knowingly using a false academic credential if the person knowingly uses a false academic credential or falsely claims to have a credential issued by an institution of higher education that is accredited by an accrediting association recognized as such by rule of the student achievement council:
(a) In a written or oral advertisement or other promotion of a business; or
(b) With the intent to:
(i) Obtain employment;
(ii) Obtain a license or certificate to practice a trade, profession, or occupation;
(iii) Obtain a promotion, compensation or other benefit, or an increase in compensation or other benefit, in employment or in the practice of a trade, profession, or occupation;
(iv) Obtain admission to an educational program in this state; or
(v) Gain a position in government with authority over another person, regardless of whether the person receives compensation for the position.
(3) The definitions in this subsection apply throughout this section and RCW 28B.85.220.
(a) "False academic credential" means a document that provides evidence or demonstrates completion of an academic or professional course of instruction beyond the secondary level that results in the attainment of an academic certificate, degree, or rank, and that is not issued by a person or entity that: (i) Is an entity accredited by an agency recognized as such by rule of the student achievement council or has the international equivalents of such accreditation; or (ii) is an entity authorized as a degree-granting institution by the student achievement council; or (iii) is an entity exempt from the requirements of authorization as a degree-granting institution by the student achievement council; or (iv) is an entity that has been granted a waiver by the student achievement council from the requirements of authorization by the council. Such documents include, but are not limited to, academic certificates, degrees, coursework, degree credits, transcripts, or certification of completion of a degree.
(b) "Grant" means award, bestow, confer, convey, sell, or give.
(c) "Offer," in addition to its usual meanings, means advertise, publicize, or solicit.
(d) "Operate" includes but is not limited to the following:
(i) Offering courses in person, by correspondence, or by electronic media at or to any Washington location for degree credit;
(ii) Granting or offering to grant degrees in Washington;
(iii) Maintaining or advertising a Washington location, mailing address, computer server, or telephone number, for any purpose, other than for contact with the institution's former students for any legitimate purpose related to the students having attended the institution.
(4) Issuing a false academic credential is a class C felony.
(5) Knowingly using a false academic credential is a gross misdemeanor.
[2012 c 229 § 501; 2006 c 234 § 2.]
| Effective date -- 2012 c 229 §§ 101, 117, 401, 402, 501 through 594, 601 through 609, 701 through 708, 801 through 821, 902, and 904: See note following RCW 28B.77.005.|