Trespassing in Colorado can carry hefty fines and possible license suspension for the hunter or fisherman who pleads guilty or pays the fine without consulting with an attorney.
Receiving a ticket for fishing on private property can be a frustrating situation. Often it is merely a mistake and no real harm was intended and indeed, you may not have even caught a fish, but still receive the violation. If you receive a fishing violation in Colorado for fishing on private property without permission, you need to speak with an attorney before paying the fine and pleading guilty.
The particular statute governing fishing on private property reads:
C.R.S. 33-6-116. Hunting, trapping, or fishing on private property: (1) It is unlawful for any person to enter upon privately owned land or lands under the control of the state board of land commissioners to hunt or take any wildlife by hunting, trapping, or fishing without first obtaining permission from the owner or person in possession of such land.
Trespassing in Colorado, whether for fishing, hunting, or trapping, results in 20 license suspension points. 20 or more license suspension points in a five year period results in a hearing before the Wildlife Commission and possibly, loss of your hunting, fishing and trapping privileges for the coming seasons. In essence, a violation for fishing on private property could put your elk hunt this fall in jeopardy.
If you are on private property, you may wonder how the Colorado Parks and Wildlife officer who issued you the fishing ticket got out there without permission. CPW officers are allowed onto private property to investigate fishing, hunting, or trapping offenses without permission of the landowner. There are limits to this power, but CPW officers are given a wide authority on enforcing wildlife statutes. Additionally, you still have defenses available even if the officer is allowed to be there such as your 4th Amendment rights against unlawful search and seizure. An attorney can help you determine any defenses that may be available to you.
Finally, trespassing in Colorado is a strict liability crime. Essentially, it does not matter whether you meant to or not. Trespassing is an offense regardless of if you crossed onto private property purposefully, or “with intent.” Again though, this does not mean that just because an officer says you were trespassing, that you do not have defenses to this accusation. How was the location determined? Where was the officer when he/she saw you allegedly trespass? Is there evidence to the contrary?
If you receive a fishing violation for fishing on private property in Colorado, The Law Office of Nathaniel Gilbert will help review your case and provide a free consultation. You have nothing to lose by calling an attorney and getting help deciding what your best options will be. Often, fishing violations are able to be handled for a flat fee with no lengthy hourly billings. Before you just pay the fine and plead guilty, think ahead and talk with an attorney—Your elk hunting buddies will thank you.