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Watts v. State - 219 Tenn. 188, 407 S.W.2d 678 (1966)


Tenn. Code Ann. 51-407 makes it a crime for persons to "hunt, take, chase, trap or kill any wild animals, etc." upon the land of another without having first obtained permission.


Defendant William Clifford Watts was found guilty, in the General Sessions Court of Giles County, Tennessee of hunting without permission. Tenn. Code Ann. § 51-407 made it a crime for a person to hunt, take, chase, trap, or kill any wild animals upon the land of another without first obtaining permission. Tenn. Code Ann. § 44-1408 made it unlawful for a person to allow his dogs to enter another person's land except that the entering of the dog, while hunting, was not unlawful unless the dogs damaged the property and the dogs' owner failed to tender adequate consideration within 30 days. The defendant released his dogs, for hunting, some mile and one-half to two miles from Mr. White's farm; and at a location where he had permission to hunt. Watts' dogs were foxhounds and, at the time of their entering on Mr. White's land, were engaged in the hunting of foxes. Watts however did not enter upon the White's land without permission. Watts appealed his conviction to the Circuit Court of Giles County, Tennessee. That court also found Watts guilty and ordered him to pay a fine of $ 25.00 and costs. Watts appealed.


Was Watts' conviction proper?




The state supreme court reversed, finding that there was no violation of Tenn. Code Ann. § 51-407 because Watts did not enter upon White's land, personally, without permission. The court held that to support conviction it must clearly be shown that a defendant himself invaded the premises without permission.

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