Senate Bill No. 353
(By Senators Williams, Beach, D. Hall, Miller, Sypolt, Stollings, Tucker and Plymale)
[Originating in the Committee on the Judiciary;
reported January 31, 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 creating the offense of timber theft from state forests; providing the Division of Forestry authority to investigate and enforce timber theft violations in state forests; directing the Division of Forestry to create and maintain a central registry of information relating to timber theft from state forests; clarifying that treble damages are applicable to state forest timber thefts; 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) Any person who willfully cuts timber within the confines of a state forest without lawful authority to do so is guilty of the offense of theft of state park timber.
(b) Any person violating the provisions of subsection (a) of this section where value of the timber illegally cut is $25,000 or less is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be confined in jail for not more than one year, fined not more than $500 or both.
(c) Any person violating the provisions of subsection (a) of this section where the value of the timber illegally cut is more than $25,000 shall be guilty of a felony and upon conviction thereof shall be imprisoned in a state correctional facility for not more than three years, fined not more than $10,000 or both.
(d) The Division of Forestry shall have the primary responsibility to enforce the provisions of this section and may assist other law-enforcement agency investigations of timber theft occurring outside state forests.
(e) Any person convicted of a violation of subsection (a) of this section shall be subject to the provisions of section forty-eight-a, article three, chapter sixty-one of this code.
(f) In addition to the fines and costs authorized by this section, any person convicted of a violation of this section shall pay a $500 civil penalty to the Division of Forestry within sixty days of the entity of a final order of conviction. The civil penalty shall be collected by the court in which the person is convicted and forwarded to the State Treasurer for deposit in the Division of Forestry Fund (3081) and 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.)