Criminal Conviction Upheld For Defendant Whose Cattle Grazed on Public Land Without a Permit.

The defendant owned cattle in Wyoming. His brother owned land adjacent to Bureau of Land Management (BLM) property. The defendant did not lease land from his brother, nor did he or his brother have a grazing permit from the BLM. Nonetheless, the defendant's cattle grazed on the BLM property after a BLM cattle guard in a road was worked on but not completed and the fence on each side was left down.  Wyoming is a "fence-out" state and, thus, BLM bore initial responsibility for keeping the defendant's cattle out.  The defendant paid the initial $200 fine, but was later accused of additional grazing trespass violations.  After issuing numerous administrative trespass notices and levying fines against the defendant, the BLM asked the United States Attorney to file criminal charges.  The defendant represented himself, and after a jury trial, the defendant was convicted of one count of unlawful use or occupation of public lands, in violation of 43 C.F.R. § 2920.1-2(a) and (e) and two counts of allowing his livestock to graze without authorization on public lands, in violation of 43 C.F.R. § 4140.1(b)(1)(i). The district court sentenced him to two years of supervised probation for each count, to be served concurrently, together with a $3,000 fine. On appeal, the court affirmed, finding that the government presented overwhelming evidence to support the convictions. Lumber, farm equipment, vehicles, and fencing material were left on the public property, as was a vehicle with license plates registered to the defendant. The defendant failed to remove the property even after multiple warnings. The defendant’s due process rights were not violated. He had an opportunity to represent himself and to be heard at trial.  United States v. Jones, No. 13-8093, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 18928 (10th Cir. Wyo. Oct. 3, 2014).

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