Hunters in Colorado who find themselves receiving a ticket for a hunting violation could be in for a larger than normal fine. In the case of what the State of Colorado deems to be “trophy” animals, special fines between $4-25,000 can be assessed for even the most minor infraction. These fines are purely punative in nature and have no relation to the actual size of the animal, history of the accused, or the severity of the crime.
Affectionately referred to as “Samson’s Law,” in honor of a trophy bull of the same name that was taken by poachers in Estes Park, the law prescribes fines for animals fitting certain measurements of horns or antlers. These fines are often assessed AFTER the original ticket has been given. This is an important piece to recognize. You may be assessed this fine after you pay the ticket and plead guilty, especially where a measurement by a wildlife officer is required in order to determine if the fine applies.
Under this law, For each bull elk with at least six points on one antler beam, $10,000, for each mule deer buck with an inside antler spread of at least twenty-two inches, $10,000, for each whitetail deer buck with an inside antler spread of at least eighteen inches, $10,000, for each bull moose, $10,000, for each bighorn sheep with a horn length of at least one-half curl, $25,000, for each mountain goat, $10,000, for each pronghorn antelope with a horn length of at least fourteen inches, $4,000. As you can see, the fine totals can really add up where trophy animals are concerned. This is why it is extremely important to stay vigilant in the field and work to ensure your rights are respected during the charging process.
Most importantly, as mentioned before, these fines can be assessed much later on than when you first received a hunting violation ticket. Once the animal is confiscated, it will be measured and reported to the District Attorney who is handling your case. The fine can even be assessed long after pleading guilty and paying the original fine on the ticket! This is why it is so important to speak with an attorney before paying any tickets that you receive from Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Even a small hunting violation can come with Samson Law fines.
An important factor to remember is that if you are found guilty of a hunting violation that leads to a Samson charge is that this charge is not subject to the "Victims Assistance Tax" under Colorado law. Often, courts fail to distinguish between this fine and other fines associated with your charges and attempt to collect far too much money. For instance, the VAT is 35% of all the fines assessed by the court in your case. If you pay a fine of $10,000 for a Samson violation, the VAT that you will be wrongfully paying would total $3,500.00!! Make sure you or your attorney are educated on the application of the VAT to Samson Trophy Fines in Colorado before you plead guilty, or pay any extra money to the court.
If you receive a Colorado hunting violation, it is in your best interest to take advantage of the free call to The Law Office of Nathaniel Gilbert for a 100% free consultation on your rights as an outdoorsman. Nathaniel Gilbert is an experienced hunting attorney who has successfully defended Samson's Law charges for Colorado clients. During your consultation with Nathaniel, you will learn about the process for defending a hunting violation and what options you may have. Additionally, you'll learn about the point system for Colorado Hunting Licenses and how best to avoid not only paying Samson fines, but also keep your hunting privileges going forward.