By Jacob H. Zoghlin, Esq.
In January of 2019, three hunters were charged in the Town of Mount Morris when a stray bullet struck a nearby house. Although the residents of the home were inside, nobody was injured. According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (the “DEC”), the hunters could end up losing their hunting privileges for up to five years.1
State DEC officials and the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office investigated the incident, which led to the hunters’ arrest on January 2, 2019.
However, their troubles didn’t end there. The hunters were charged with multiple counts for alleged misconduct that interfered with the investigation. Instead of just being charged with failing to carry tags afield while hunting, they now also face charges for tampering with physical evidence (a felony) and providing a false written statement.
After responding to the initial report, interviewing witnesses, and examining the evidence, investigators determined that the statements provided by the hunters were not credible. Apparently, the hunters attempted to conceal their actions by planting spent shell casings on the ground in an area where the shots did not occur and lying to investigators.
The lesson here may seem obvious at first — don’t lie to investigators or attempt to cover up an accident — but it’s a mistake made all too often. Our experience with government investigations indicates that, when faced with potential liability, lying to or misleading authorities is never the right move. When in doubt, seek qualified legal counsel. They will be able to guide you through an investigation and help you avoid making the same mistakes that the hunters made here.
1 See “DEC: Hunter accused of firing bullet that struck Mount Morris home could lose license,” By Ben Beagle, Livingston County News, January 9, 2019, available at https://www.thelcn.com/lcn01/dec-hunter-accused-of-firing-bullet-that-struck-mount-morris-home-could-lose-license-20190109.
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