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AGLO 1977 No. 5 - January 31, 1977
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Slade Gorton | 1969-1980 | Attorney General of Washington

GAME ‑- ANIMALS ‑- CRIMES ‑- MUTILATING OR WASTING CARCASS OF GAME ANIMAL

In order to sustain a criminal prosecution for mutilating or needlessly wasting the carcass of a game animal under RCW 77.16.090, it is necessary to prove that the person charged with wasting or mutilating is the same person who killed the animal in question.

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                                                                 January 31, 1977

Honorable Richard W. Miller
Prosecuting Attorney
Adams County
210 West Main
Ritzville, Washington 99169                                                                                                                 Cite as:  AGLO 1977 No. 5

Dear Sir:

            This is written in response to your recent letter asking for our opinion on a question which we paraphrase as follows:

            In order to sustain a criminal prosecution for mutilating or needlessly wasting the carcass of a game animal under RCW 77.16.090, is it necessary to prove that the person charged with wasting or mutilating is the same person who killed the animal in question?

            We answer the foregoing question in the affirmative.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            RCW 77.16.090 reads as follows:

            "It shall be unlawful for any person to permit any game animal, fur-bearing animal, game bird, or game fish needlessly to go to waste after killing the same or to mutilate any such animal or bird so that the species or sex cannot be determined."

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            Any violation of this statute constitutes a misdemeanor in accordance with RCW 77.16.240.  Thus, in short, RCW 77.16.090 is a penal statute which, in the case of any ambiguity, must be strictly construed against the state and in favor of an accused.  State v. Lewis, 46 Wn.2d 438, 282 P.2d 297 (1955).

            In this instance, application of the foregoing principle clearly requires an affirmative answer to your question.  This is not necessarily to say that RCW 77.16.090 is truly ambiguous on the issue thus raised.  But even if it is, the rule of strict construction requires that it be construed and applied in the same manner as it appears to us literally to read; i.e., the only person who can be charged and convicted of mutilating or needlessly wasting the carcass of a game animal under the provisions of that statute is the same person who killed the game animal in the first place.

            We trust that the foregoing will be of some assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

SLADE GORTON
Attorney General


JIM M. JOHNSON
Assistant Attorney General

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