Senate Bill No. 353
(By Senators Williams, Beach, D. Hall, Miller, Sypolt, Stollings, Tucker and Plymale)
[Introduced January 15, 2014; referred to the Committee on Natural Resources; and then to the Committee on the Judiciary.]
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; authority of Division of Forestry to investigate and enforce violations occurring in state forests managed by the division; and adding 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 on 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 on state forests. The division has the authority to investigate and enforce the provisions of this section when violations occur on state forests. The division may assist law-enforcement agencies in investigations of violations of the provisions of subsection (b), section forty-eight, article three, chapter sixty-one of this code when requested.
(c) Criminal and civil penalties. -- A person that commits timber theft on 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 on 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. 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.