Purpose of CPW Hearings Office:
The Hearing Examiner for the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission reviews wildlife-related cases where the violation(s) meet the established criteria for a possible suspension of the person's hunting, fishing and trapping privileges. The Hearing Examiner will review the wildlife violation and conviction records and conduct a wildlife license suspension hearing to determine if a suspension is appropriate based on the circumstances of the case and factors established in regulation. (Colorado state law defines the wildlife license suspension hearing process in §
In addition, cases involving violations by license agents for the division may also be subject to a hearing, with judgments made on sanctions to be taken.
If the Hearing Examiner decision is for the suspension of a person’s hunting, fishing and trapping privileges, the individual has the right to file an appeal. If a timely appeal is filed, the Parks and Wildlife Commission will review the initial decision of suspension made by the Hearing Examiner. See below on
how to appeal a suspension decision.
For questions related to a possible wildlife license suspension, please contact the Colorado Parks & Wildlife Hearings Office at 303-291-7418 or by email at CPWHearings.Office@state.co.us.
What is considered a conviction, or "disposition"?
After a person has any wildlife conviction with 20 or more points associated, or a wildlife-related Title 18 conviction, they will be noticed to a suspension hearing for possible suspension of their wildlife license privileges. A conviction results from any of the following:
Payment of the fine associated with a ticket (known as a penalty assessment);
A court conviction;
A plea of
nolo contendere (no contest);
A deferred or suspended sentence by the court;
Forfeiture of bail.
What are points?
Most wildlife-related violations have associated penalizing points that are assessed against hunting and fishing privileges in Colorado and other Compact states. The number of associated license suspension points are determined by state statute. All violations of Parks and Wildlife Commission (PWC) regulations have 5 penalizing points. Suspension points are assessed only after conviction for wildlife-related crime(s).
Once they have a wildlife conviction(s), AND accumulate 20 (or more) points within a 5-year period, they will be noticed by certified mail to a wildlife license suspension hearing. Juveniles convicted of wildlife–related violations are also subject to the wildlife license suspension process.
The majority of suspension decisions range from zero (0) years to five (5) years. However, more serious crimes can result in a longer suspension, from a minimum of one year, up to a lifetime.
The following violations result in an automatic license suspension hearing, with a possible suspension of one year to lifetime:
- C.R.S. 33-6-109(3)(a) Endangered or threatened;
- C.R.S. 33-6-109(3)(b) Golden eagle, rocky mountain goat, desert bighorn sheep, American peregrine falcon, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep;
- C.R.S. 33-6-109(3)(e) Three or more big game animals (in any combination);
- C.R.S. 33-6-113(a) Illegal sale or purchase of big game, endangered species, or eagles;
- C.R.S. 33-6-117(a)(I) Willful destruction of wildlife – big game, endangered species, or eagles;
- C.R.S. 33-4-101.3 Black bears – declaration of intent – spring season. (1) To prohibit the taking of black bears when female black bears are rearing their cubs and to promote the concept of fair chase by eliminating the use of bait and dogs. (6) First offense, automatic 5-year suspension; Second offense, automatic lifetime suspension.
If a person receives a third suspension, they will receive a lifetime suspension (as required by Colorado law).
What is a suspension based on?
Suspensions are based on what a defendant has been convicted of, as well as criteria set forth in Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission Regulation 1601.B.2.f:
"When deciding upon the duration of any license privileges suspension term, the hearing examiner will consider the facts of the underlying violation(s) giving rise to the criminal conviction(s) and the administrative license suspension hearing, along with all relevant written materials and documentary evidence contained in the Division's records, all written materials and documentary evidence provided by the party prior to the administrative license suspension hearing, and all evidence provided during the hearing, and will give specific consideration to the absence or presence of the following factors:
Whether the violation(s) caused or resulted in the take of wildlife, injury or death of a person, or damage to or destruction of public or private property;
The number of violations arising from the same transaction or occurrence;
Whether the violation(s) involved the take of species listed as endangered, threatened or of special concern;
Whether the violation(s) involved the take of trophy wildlife;
Whether the violation(s) showed an intentional, knowing, or negligent disregard for wildlife or public safety;
Whether the violation(s) involved intentional, knowing or negligent action on behalf of the party;
Whether the party has any prior violations of wildlife statutes or regulations, or violations of state or federal law committed while hunting, fishing, or engaging in a related activity;
Whether the party has any prior license suspensions;
Whether the violation(s) occurred while the party was subject to a prior suspension or otherwise unlicensed;
Whether the violation(s) involved any assault or threat to or resisting a peace officer;
Whether the party self-reported the violation(s) or otherwise attempted to remedy or ameliorate the harm caused by the violation(s);
The experience and age of the party and other social factors or circumstances associated with the violation(s);
Whether the party interfered with or hindered the investigation of the violation(s);
The criminal penalties imposed as part of the violation(s);
Whether the party acted alone or in concert with other parties;
The species and the number of wildlife taken, and;
Whether the violation(s) involved any specified illegal manner of take (use of bait, traps, snares, poison, etc.).
Based on all the evidence presented, the hearing examiner will determine the weight to be given to any factor and that factor's effect on the duration of the suspension term."
Can a Title 18 conviction result in a suspension?
Yes – Wildlife-related Title 18 convictions (such as: Criminal Trespass) will result in a certified notice to a suspension hearing. Hunting and fishing privileges may be suspended, if the violation was committed while hunting, trapping, fishing, or engaging in a wildlife-related activity. A suspension is possible, even if the original charge is pled to a Title 18 conviction from a Title 33 violation.
Who can suspend your hunting & fishing privileges?
In Colorado, only the Parks and Wildlife Commission, and/or a Hearing Officer, not the court system, has the authority to suspend hunting and fishing privileges. The court may impose a suspension – as part of a plea agreement – but that is between the person and the court. The Commission, or their Hearing Examiner, does not recognize such a court prohibition as a state-imposed suspension but will take the court's sentencing into consideration when rendering a decision of suspension.
Timeline to receive a notice to a suspension hearing.
After the citation has a disposition, the Law Enforcement Unit (LEU) for Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) transfers the case file to CPW’s Hearings Office. This transfer process can take up to 3 months, as LEU assembles the complete case file. Thereafter, license suspension hearing notices are sent at least 30 days prior to the hearing date. Hearing dates are set based upon the Hearing Examiner’s travel schedule to CPW offices throughout the state. Because each of the CPW hearing locations may be scheduled only twice a year, it may take as long as 12 months after a case has a disposition, for a person to be noticed to a hearing.
NOTE: Due to public health restrictions, all hearings are currently being conducted virtually.
Where are suspension hearings held?
Hearings are held at CPW offices (currently 13 hearing venues, or locations), and a person can request a different location, if more convenient. Non-residents may request that a hearing be conducted by phone. A person is not required to appear at the hearing, as the certified hearing notice is not a court summons.
NOTE: Due to public health restrictions, all hearings are currently being conducted virtually.
What will happen at the hearing?
A person will discuss the events related to the ticket(s) with the Hearing Examiner. The person has the right to have any witnesses appear, and/or an attorney present, for the hearing. They can provide any evidence or documentation that is relevant, including the officer's case report.
A person can also request that the officer appear for the hearing.
How to appeal a suspension decision.
A person may appeal the hearing examiner's initial decision to the Parks & Wildlife Commission. A written notice of appeal must be filed with the Commission within thirty (30) days of the licensee’s receipt of the hearing examiner’s initial decision, but no later than 45 days from the date contained in the certificate of service accompanying the initial decision. The notice of appeal must be sent to “CPW License Appeals” 6060 Broadway, Denver, CO 80216. If a timely appeal is not made to the Commission, the hearing examiner’s initial decision shall become final, effective 45 days from the date contained in the certificate of service accompanying the initial decision. If a timely appeal is made to the Commission, the hearing examiner shall send notice to the licensee of the date of their scheduled hearing before the Commission and advise that the hearing examiner’s initial decision to suspend is automatically stayed pending Commission review and final action. The notice of appeal shall include:
the person’s name, address, telephone number and case file number;
a narrative statement of the person’s position, including a complete statement of the factual and statutory basis supporting relief from the decision of the hearing examiner and the relief requested;
copies of any written documentation or documentary evidence submitted to the hearing examiner;
copy of the hearing examiner’s decision, including the findings of fact and conclusions of law, and;
a copy of the transcript of the hearing on the suspension of license privileges conducted by the hearing examiner. The person requesting review shall be responsible for the production of the transcript.
Commission review will be based on the notice of appeal and any additional written materials and documentary evidence provided to the Commission by the hearing examiner in response to the notice of appeal, and unless the Commission directs otherwise, there will be no oral presentations or further submittals to the Commission.
Except as may otherwise be directed by the Commission, license suspensions will be reviewed at the next regular meeting of the Commission following their receipt, provided the notice of appeal is received by the Commission at least thirty days prior to the meeting. The final decision of the Commission is effective upon mailing to the licensee and must contain a certificate of mailing.
Written notice of the final decision of the commission shall be sent to the licensee by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the last known address of such person. The notice shall advise the licensee that he or she may appeal the Commission’s suspension decision to the state district court as provided in § 24-4-106, C.R.S., by bringing an action for judicial review within 35 days after such action becomes effective.
What is the Compact?
The Compact refers to the
Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact (IWVC). There are currently 48 states in the Compact, including Colorado. Once wildlife license privileges have been suspended in Colorado, the other Compact states will recognize that suspension. This will affect a suspended person's ability to hunt, fish, and trap in all Compact member states.