Criminal Trespass Laws in New Mexico Related to Hunting
Understanding Criminal Trespass in the Context of Hunting and Outdoor Activities
Legal Framework for Trespass
The New Mexico Statutes Annotated (NMSA) 1978 provides a comprehensive legal basis for understanding and enforcing criminal trespass, especially in the context of hunting, fishing, or trapping. Key aspects of these laws include:
- Section 30–14–1 NMSA 1978: This section defines criminal trespass and lays out the circumstances under which it applies. It focuses on unauthorized entry or remaining on private property without written permission from the landowner or person in control.
Categories of Criminal Trespass
The law categorizes criminal trespass into several specific scenarios:
Trespass on Posted Private Property: Entering or remaining on posted private property without written permission constitutes criminal trespass. Exceptions include properties with NMDGF agreements for public access or possession of a landowner license for hunting or fishing.
Trespass on Unposted Lands: Knowingly entering or remaining on unposted private lands without consent is also criminal trespass. This is determined by the absence of consent from the owner or occupant.
Trespass on State or Political Subdivision Lands: The law extends to properties owned, operated, or controlled by the state or its political subdivisions.
Damage to Property: Trespassers causing injury, damage, or destruction to any part of the realty or its improvements are guilty of a misdemeanor and liable for civil damages.
Removal or Tampering with No Trespass Signs: Knowingly removing or tampering with "no trespass" signs is a petty misdemeanor, with escalated penalties for damages exceeding $1,000.
Consequences of Criminal Trespass
The law stipulates clear penalties for those found guilty of criminal trespass:
Misdemeanor Offenses: Criminal trespass is generally treated as a misdemeanor.
Revocation of Licenses: Violations connected with hunting, fishing, or trapping activities can lead to a minimum three-year revocation of licenses by the State Game Commission.
Posting Requirements for Trespass
Guidelines for Property Owners
Property owners wishing to prevent trespass must adhere to specific posting requirements:
Notice Placement and Specifications: Notices must be posted along boundaries and at access points, with clear prohibitions and relevant information. They must be legible, of a certain size, and include specific prohibitions like "no hunting" or "no fishing."
Prohibition Against Posting Public Lands: Illegally posting public lands is a petty misdemeanor.
Regulations Regarding Hunting on Private Property
Written Permission Requirement
Hunting on private property in New Mexico is regulated by strict requirements:
Mandatory Written Permission: Hunters must have written permission to hunt on private property unless exempted by specific agreements or rules.
Seizure of Illegally Taken Game: Any game taken in violation of trespass laws is subject to seizure.
Exceptions: Certain properties under unitization agreements or those receiving compensation for public access are exempt from the written permission requirement.
Definition of Written Permission
The law specifies what constitutes valid written permission:
Contents of the Permission Document: It must include verifiable details like the person's name, permitted activities, property location, granting authority's contact information, and duration of the permission.
Licenses as Written Permission: In some cases, licenses issued for private land hunting with the ranch name printed on them may serve as written permission.
For more details on these regulations and to download the required forms, hunters can visit the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish website at https://www.wildlife.state.nm.us.