In a recent case in Colorado, we represented a client who was charged with illegally possessing over 600 game birds. This case posed a challenge as there was a large amount of evidence that the client was in possession of the birds and knew that there were problems with that possession. Cases such as this are investigated and charged by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Division of the Department of Wildlife. This state agency may not be the most well-known law enforcement agency, but they often have some of the most detailed investigations that we see.
Despite evidence that our client had a colorable defense to these charges, and the presence of some questionable acts on the part of law enforcement, the District Attorney would not dismiss the charges. As any type of conviction would have dire consequences for our client, we began working vigorously on his defense. We spent hours reviewing the discovery, drafting motions and conducting pretrial hearings. While we felt that we presented a strong defense to the charges at our pretrial hearings, the District Attorney remained opposed to dismissing the charges and we proceeded to trial.
We held a two-day jury trial and were successful in raising the affirmative defense of Mistake of Law. In this case, our Mistake of Law defense would absolve our client of any criminal liability if he 1) thought the conduct at issue was legal; and, 2) believed that because he was told as much by an official authorized to make such a determination by the laws of Colorado. Through testimony, documentary, and audio evidence, we were able to show the Court that our client was operating under the mistaken belief that he was authorized to possess the birds at issue. The Court granted our request to add that defense to the jury instructions and we made our closing arguments on the second day of trial.
We were hopeful that the jury saw this case as we did and were delighted to receive a verdict of “Not Guilty” after roughly thirty minutes of deliberation.
If you have been charged with a hunting or fishing violation, don’t do anything without speaking with a wildlife attorney. WildlifeLawyers.com have been representing big game hunters and fisherman throughout Colorado for over a decade. Our attorneys are former wildlife prosecutors, judges and federal and state criminal defenders. Call our attorneys at 888-458-0991 for a free consultation today if you have any questions about your rights in the field.