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Senate Bill 1345 — Fences, barbed wire, exposure

Senate Bill 1345 — Fences, barbed wire, exposure

by
Parrish Miller
February 24, 2022
Parrish Miller
February 24, 2022

Bill description: Senate Bill 1345 makes it illegal to have a barbed wire fence in disrepair and revises penalties for related offenses. 

Rating: -2

Analyst Note: Senate Bill 1345 is similar to Senate Bill 1312, but is different in a few ways. It applies to more people than Senate Bill 1312 would, and it revises the penalties a bit. 

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?

Existing 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 1345 amends sections 35-301 and 35-302, Idaho Code, to add that it is illegal to have a barbed wire fence "in disrepair" and revises the exception to say the prohibition only applies "under circumstances or conditions likely to injure livestock."

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 because it appears to make both an owner and an occupant responsible for a barbed wire fence "in disrepair," while providing no clear guidance about who would have the primary (or financial) responsibility when an owner and an occupant are two different persons or entities. 

Senate Bill 1345 amends Section 35-303, Idaho Code, to reduce the time allowed to correct a barbed wire fence that violates the section above from 10 days to 7 days. 

The increased scope of the prohibition and decrease in the time allowed to remedy a defect increases the likelihood that someone will be found to have violated this statute. 

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Existing 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 1321 amends 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 will be an infraction with a $300 fine.

These changes increase the fines by 600% to 6,000%, but they do reduce the violations from misdemeanors to infractions in the case of a first or second offense. 

Under this legislation, a third violation within five years will be a misdemeanor. Because it 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 a 4,000% to 20,000% increase in possible fines. Perhaps more significantly, it includes the threat of incarceration, which is not currently present in this law. 

This change represents a substantial increase in potential penalties for an offense that doesn't require any actual harm be caused. 

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