Original Case Details
A 56-year man from Pickford in the upper peninsula has been charged with 125 wildlife crimes after investigators uncovered that the man had both harvested and killed endangered and protected species of animals. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced the charges after an investigation done by their Law Enforcement Division. The man is accused of illegally harvesting as many as 18 wolves. Wolves are on the federal endangered species list and are also protected under Michigan state law. The man is also accused of killing and dumping three American bald eagles. Bald eagles are protected under the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act as well as state law. He is also accused of illegal conduct involving deer, turkeys, bears, and bobcats. It appears that there are other suspects with similar conduct that will be charged in the near future as well. Since the animals that he allegedly harvested and killed are also protected under federal law, the man may also face federal charges which would be a separate proceeding from the state cases.
Criminal Charges Involved
The man was arraigned in the 91st District Court in Chippewa County for his charges, which are all misdemeanors. The man faces a maximum of up to 90 days in jail for all of the 125 misdemeanors charged. It is important to note that 90 days is the overall maximum the man faces, as he would not serve these sentences consecutively if convicted. He also faces a $1,000 fine for each charge involving a wolf or eagle, as well as $1,500 in restitution for each charge involving an eagle, and $500 for each charge involving a wolf. Finally, he faces a $500 for each of the other wildlife charges if convicted. In all, the Chippewa County Prosecutor’s Office is looking for $30,000 in restitution for the crimes alleged. The man is accused of using the animals for reasons including selling the endangered animals or selling crafts made from various parts of the animals after they were killed.
The man has pled not guilty to all the charges and was released on a $500 bond. Orders of his release include no contact with any (soon to be) co-defendants, not possess a gun or other dangerous weapon, and he is not allowed to hunt or fish. His next court date will be a pretrial hearing. At this hearing, the man can look to negotiate a plea deal or continue forward towards a trial either by judge or jury. These are an exorbitant number of charges. It is extremely rare to see someone charged with so many counts of anything. The sheer number of charges may force a trial in this case. The man will have the option of a jury or bench trial that will be held in the 91st District Court. In Michigan, a misdemeanor jury is comprised of 6 people from the local community, while felony juries are comprised of 12 people from the local community. A bench trial is a trial that is decided without a jury, where the decision of guilt is made by the judge. Both the prosecutor and defendant have to agree to a bench trial as the right to a jury trial is a right afforded to both the prosecutor and the defendant in a criminal case.
Any Further Questions?
If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime or are being investigated for one, then it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Grabel & Associates, our attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience in successfully defending criminal cases all over the state of Michigan. This experience extends not only to adult cases, but also to juvenile charges. We are not a general practice firm. We are a team of criminal defense attorneys; it’s all we do. We offer a FREE consultation to anyone with questions relating to a possible or existing criminal charge against them or a loved one. Feel free to contact us on our 24/7 defense line at 1-800-342-7896. You can also contact us online or come visit us at one of our three statewide locations. We can also come to you.