Senate Bill No. 353
(By Senators Williams, Beach, D. Hall, Miller, Sypolt, Stollings, Tucker and Plymale)
[Originating in the Committee on Natural Resources;
reported January 30, 2014.]
A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new section, designated §19-1A-3b, relating to timber theft in state forests; providing the Division of Forestry authority to investigate and enforce timber theft violations in state forests; and setting forth criminal and civil penalties.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new section, designated §19-1A-3b, to read as follows:
ARTICLE 1A. DIVISION OF FORESTRY.
§19-1A-3b. Timber theft in state forests; investigations; criminal and civil penalties.
(a) Timber theft is the misappropriation or taking of timber belonging to another, or proceeds derived from the sale of timber, either taken without the consent of the owner, or by means of fraudulent conduct, practices, or representations, with the intent to deprive the owner permanently of the timber or proceeds derived therefrom.
(b) The Division of Forestry has the primary responsibility for the collection, preparation, and central registry of information relating to timber theft in state forests. The division has the authority to investigate and enforce the provisions of this section when violations occur in state forests. The division may assist other law-enforcement agencies in timber theft investigations.
(c) Criminal and civil penalties. --
(1) A person that commits timber theft in state forests of a value of $25,000 or less is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined not more than $5,000, or imprisoned for no more than one year, or both fined and imprisoned. A person that commits timber theft in state forests managed by the division of a value of $25,000 or more is guilty of a felony and shall be fined not more than $10,000, or imprisoned for no more than five years, or both fined and imprisoned. A person found guilty of the crime of timber theft is also subject to the restitution provisions of section forty-eight-a, article three, chapter sixty-one of this code that provide for treble damages.
(2) In addition to fines and costs, a person convicted of a violation of this section shall pay a $500 civil penalty to the division within sixty days. The civil penalty shall be collected by the court in which the person is convicted and forwarded to the division and deposited in the Division of Forestry Fund (3081) to be used to administer the provisions of this section.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to define timber theft, and to provide the Division of Forestry the authority to investigate and enforce violations occurring in state forests managed by the division.
This section is new; therefore, strike-throughs and underscoring have been omitted.
This bill was recommended for introduction and passage during the Regular Session of the Legislature by the Forest Management Review Commission.