One of Tennessee’s most valued assets is its abundance of natural wildlife. Our wildlife population includes several species of big game and has been a draw to hunters for generations. The state is as serious as ever about protecting that resource. Tennessee has always had in place various wildlife laws regarding those who poach big game animals. However, local landowners began working with Senators and Representatives in drafting amendments to existing laws. According to Tennessee Wildlife, the state’s official wildlife magazine, the landowners were particularly concerned with the dangers surrounding nighttime road-hunting.
The new law, which is described below, allows criminal courts to set restitution in poaching cases. Before this law was enacted, the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency (TWRA) had to sue an individual accused of poaching in civil court, prove the value of the animal, and then the civil court could order damages in the amount that would equate to restitution. There were no provisions allowing for a criminal court to order restitution for an animal except in the case of wild elk.
The change in the law, which went into effect in June 2015, allows judges to impose enhanced restitution penalties on those convicted of illegally killing or possessing illegally killed big game animals. The law as amended, TCA 70-4-116, places a value on big game animals in the following amounts:
In addition to these amounts, the law states that a judge shall revoke the hunting license of the offender until all restitution has been paid. Since its inception, the law has been enforced in cases involving deer, turkey, bear, and elk. In many of those cases, the courts have ordered restitution that have totaled nearly $10,000.
Poaching also remains a problem on Fort Campbell Army Base. The federal government has long had mandatory restitution laws that prosecutors strictly enforce on post.
If you are facing charges or restitution orders relating to any hunting activity, please contact our Clarksville criminal defense attorneys at Patton | Pittman Attorneys today.
Call (931) 361-4477 or contact us online to request your free initial consultation. We are ready to discuss your legal defense options with you.