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TMCNet:  Bobcat trapper sentenced: Jared Beal receives 30 days in jail, must pay $10,000 restitution [Standard-Examiner, Ogden, Utah]

[July 23, 2010]

Bobcat trapper sentenced: Jared Beal receives 30 days in jail, must pay $10,000 restitution [Standard-Examiner, Ogden, Utah]

(Standard-Examiner (Ogden, UT) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) July 23--OGDEN -- In a case that highlighted the emerging police practice of using GPS to track suspects and the related civil rights concerns, a North Ogden bobcat trapper was sentenced Thursday to 30 days in jail for poaching.


Jared Beal, 42, was found with 31 bobcat pelts in his North Ogden home when he was arrested Jan. 29, 2008. Only six pelts are allowed per permit.

State wildlife officers used a satellite-aided GPS device to track Beal's visits to an estimated 35 trap sites in Weber, Box Elder and Tooele counties from Nov. 16, 2007, through Jan. 29, 2008.

He was charged with 12 counts of wanton destruction of protected wildlife (poaching); half were thirddegree felony counts and each represented multiple bobcats trapped and killed illegally. Bobcat pelts commonly fetch $400 to $500 at auction and can run as high as $1,200.

Beal pleaded no contest in June to four of the charges in return for dismissal of the other eight in a plea bargain. Terms included Beal donating $10,000 to the State Division of Wildlife Resources' Help Stop Poaching fund, which he did Thursday in open court before 2nd District Judge Michael DiReda.

Beal has also lost all hunting and trapping privileges for 20 years in a separate administrative action by state regulators, Deputy Weber County Attorney Gary Heward said after the court hearing.

During the case, the Utah Court of Appeals declined to review DiReda's rejection of several defense suppression motions that claimed constitutional flaws in the use of a GPS device to track Beal. Use of the GPS trackers locally is rare, being part of only a handful of Weber County cases in recent years.

Even though the ruling was at a district court level, not the appellate level, Heward said State vs. Beal will give prosecutors and defense attorneys a sense of the judiciary's stance toward the use of the GPS tracking.

"Certain legal issues were raised and ruled upon," he said. "They are valid rulings, just not as easy to access as appellate court rulings since they aren't printed in legal journals." The case was vigorously argued, he said, because Beal could afford to hire three defense attorneys.

But Brenda Beaton, lead defense counsel for Beal and Heward's former colleague in the county attorney's office, noted no judges are bound by DiReda's decisions.

Utah law requires only an "authorization" from a judge to allow police to use GPS units in a criminal investigation.

While unnecessary on public property, such as roadways and commercial parking lots, a Utah officer also needs a search warrant to venture onto private property to place a tracker on a vehicle, as was done in Beal's case.

Beal's lawyers unsuccessfully challenged the warrant as flawed and the authorization as unconstitutional. Heward argued the GPS unit was so benign it didn't need anything more than the simple authorization for its general use.

The use of GPS trackers by law enforcement has yet to receive much review in the appellate courts.

Some states require search warrants as part of a GPS authorization, while others don't even require a judge's authorization.

"That's the real problem," Beaton said, that officers can use the GPS tracker on a hunch, not a warrant.

"Hopefully someone will want to press an appeal some day," she said, noting Beal opted against taking the case any further.

"He's decided to move on with his life." To see more of the Standard-Examiner, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.standard.net.

Copyright (c) 2010, Standard-Examiner, Ogden, Utah Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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