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State v. Hughes

Court of Appeals of Idaho

October 31, 2014

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
JEFFREY J. HUGHES, Defendant-Respondent.

2014 Opinion No. 93

Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Valley County. Hon. Thomas F. Neville, District Judge.

Order of the district court granting motion to dismiss two felony counts of information without prejudice, affirmed, and case remanded.

Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Kenneth K. Jorgensen, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for appellant. Kenneth K. Jorgensen argued.

Sara B. Thomas, State Appellate Public Defender; Brian R. Dickson, Deputy Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for respondent. Brian R. Dickson argued.

SCHWARTZMAN, Judge Pro Tem

After a dead buck mule deer was discovered in Valley County, Jeffrey J. Hughes was charged by information with felony wasteful destruction of wildlife, felony unlawful possession of wildlife, misdemeanor hunting or taking of wildlife without possessing the proper tag, and misdemeanor trespass in violation of warning signs. Hughes filed a motion to dismiss the two felony counts of the information, and the district court granted the motion without prejudice. The State appeals. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

I. FACTS AND PROCEDURE

An officer with the Idaho Fish and Game responded to a call about a potential trespasser in Valley County that was reported by a property owner (the caller). The caller reported that a truck with out-of-state license plates was parked near private property and that boot tracks in the snow indicated that a person left the vehicle and entered the property. The fish and game officer met with the caller, and the officer observed the footprints in the snow leading from the vehicle to the private property. According to the officer, he moved his vehicle up the road and had the caller move his vehicle down the road, apparently watching for the individual to leave in the truck. After the caller relayed that the vehicle had driven past, the officer proceeded to an address in Valley County that was on file for the out-of-state truck, which was owned by Hughes. At the address, the officer met with Hughes, and Hughes confirmed that he had been at the private property, but informed the officer that he had been sighting in his rifle and scouting the area. After leaving the address, the officer contacted the caller and asked him to follow the tracks the next day and see if he could possibly locate an animal.

On the following day the caller informed the officer that he found something, and the officer made his way to the private property. According to the officer, he found a "5 by 5 mule deer buck stashed in the brush" and the officer noted that the animal had been field dressed and there was a gut pile nearby. The officer then collected the remains and interviewed Hughes the next day. During this interview, Hughes acknowledged shooting the deer and stated he planned to return to the private property with his son to retrieve the deer. The officer checked the Idaho Fish and Game database and determined that Hughes did not purchase a deer tag, although Hughes had the appropriate hunting license and two bear tags. The officer also did a Boone and Crockett assessment of the mule deer, determining that the animal had a Boone and Crockett score of 156.875 and was thus a trophy mule deer. See Idaho Code § 36-202(h)(1) (providing that a buck mule deer with a Boone and Crockett score of more than 150 points is a trophy mule deer).

Initially, the officer issued three citations to Hughes, asserting four violations in total. The first citation alleged that Hughes had committed a misdemeanor by trespassing in violation of warning signs in order to hunt. The second citation alleged that Hughes committed a misdemeanor by possessing an unlawfully taken "5x5 mule deer buck" and also alleged that Hughes committed a misdemeanor by hunting without a valid deer tag. The third citation alleged that Hughes committed misdemeanor wasteful destruction of a game animal.

Hughes was charged by an amended criminal complaint with felony wasteful destruction of wildlife, felony unlawful possession of wildlife, misdemeanor hunting or taking of wildlife without possessing the proper tag, and misdemeanor trespass in violation of warning signs. Following a preliminary hearing, Hughes was bound over and charged by information with the same four counts.

Hughes filed a motion to dismiss or reform the information, contending in relevant part that the information failed to allege all facts essential to establish the charged offenses for the two felony counts. The district court, after a hearing, issued an order dismissing the felony counts without prejudice, but with leave for the State to file an amended complaint alleging all misdemeanor violations. Instead, the State filed an interlocutory notice of appeal. Prior to the assignment of the appeal to this Court, Hughes filed a motion with the Idaho Supreme ...


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