Bill Description: Senate Bill 1049 would create a series of escalating penalties for individuals who do not follow posted notices on state land.
Does it directly or indirectly create or increase penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for nonviolent crimes? Conversely, does it eliminate or decrease penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for non-violent crimes?
Senate Bill 1049 would create Section 58-156, Idaho Code, to allow the state to post notices "restricting, regulating, or prohibiting specified activities on state endowment lands." The state could also post notices to say that such lands are closed altogether.
The bill goes on to say, "Violation of any properly posted closure, restriction, regulation, or prohibition of endowment lands promulgated by the state board of land commissioners pursuant to subsection (1) of this section shall be punishable as follows:
- A warning ticket and advisory of the applicable closure, restriction, regulation, or prohibition shall be issued to the violator if it is the violator's first offense under this section within five (5) years.
- If the violation is the violator's second violation of this section within five (5) years of any prior conviction or warning under this section, the violation shall be an infraction punishable by a fine of two hundred fifty dollars ($250).
- If the violation is the violator's third violation of this section within five (5) years of any prior conviction or warning under this section, the violation shall be a misdemeanor and shall be punishable by a fine not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000) or imprisonment in the county jail for no more than six (6) months or both.
- For any offense that is accompanied by any actual physical harm, injury, or damage to personal property or natural resources, the violation shall be treated as criminal trespass pursuant to section 18-7008, Idaho Code, and subject to the penalties for criminal trespass with damage set forth in section 18-7008(3)(b)."
The bill further says that the court "shall additionally impose an order of restitution directing that the violator pay restitution to the Idaho department of lands in an amount sufficient to repair, replace, or correct any actual physical harm, injury, or damage to personal property or natural resources resulting from the violation."
It is appropriate for someone who causes physical harm, injury, or damage to state endowment lands to make restitution. But it is unnecessary and inappropriate to assess penalties against someone merely for failing to follow instructions on a sign if no harm is done.
The broad language in this new section would allow government to impose f escalating penalties — including possible incarceration — for minor violations that harm no one.