Bill Description: Senate Bill 1063 would make it illegal to have a barbed wire fence in disrepair. It also revises penalties for related offenses.
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?
Idaho law makes it illegal for a property owner to have a barbed wire fence "left down or strewn around on the ground." It also says that "no person, firm or corporation shall be liable for barbed wires left down or strewn about where the same are not so exposed that there is danger of injury to animals running at large."
Senate Bill 1063 would amend sections 35-301 and 35-302, Idaho Code, to add that it is illegal to have a barbed wire fence "in disrepair." It also revises the exception to say the prohibition applies "under circumstances or conditions likely to permit the livestock to escape the fenced area and expose the livestock to injury."
The bill adds the terms "occupant" and "owner" to the list that includes "person, firm, or corporation," each time the list appears in the bill. This is a concerning and somewhat confusing change. Adding “occupant” and “owner” to the list because it appears to make both of them responsible for a barbed wire fence "in disrepair," while providing no clear guidance on who would have the primary legal (or financial) responsibility when an owner and an occupant are two different persons or entities.
This bill would increase the reach of the law in two ways: adding “in disrepair” and adding “occupant” and “owner.” Both additions increase the reach of the law, increasing the likelihood that someone will be found to have violated this statute.
Idaho law says, "Any person, firm or corporation violating any of the provisions of this chapter shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction thereof shall be fined in any sum not less than five dollars ($5.00) or more than twenty-five dollars ($25.00), in the discretion of the court."
Senate Bill 1063 would amend Section 35-305, Idaho Code, to revise penalties for these offenses. Under the revised language, "violating any of the provisions of this chapter for the first time shall be ... an infraction" with a $150 fine.
A second violation within five years would be an infraction with up to a $300 fine.
These changes increase the fines significantly, but they do reduce the violations from misdemeanors to infractions, in the case of a first or second offense.
Under this bill, a third violation within five years would be a misdemeanor. Because the bill lists no specific penalties in this case, the third violation will fall under Section 18-113, Idaho Code. This section says that when other penalties are not specified, a violation is punishable by fines of up to $1,000 and incarceration for up to six months.
This represents an even more significant increase in possible fines. It also adds the threat of incarceration, which is not present in the existing law.
This is a substantial increase in potential penalties for an offense that doesn't require the violating to cause any harm.
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