Constitutional principles should be the guide
If you are suspected of any sort of crime, you have the right to remain silent. And if you're arrested, police have to tell you so, and that whatever you say can be used against you.
The Miranda warning flows from the 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination, but it will have to be rewritten for a particular class of suspects unless the state Legislature fixes a state law. Under the state Game Code, the Miranda warning would have to be: "You don't have the right to remain silent, and anything you don't say still can be used against you."
The game law makes it illegal for anyone to "refuse to answer, without evasion, upon request of any representative of the commission, any pertinent question pertaining to the killing or wounding of any game or wildlife."
State Rep. Mark Keller, a Franklin County Republican, plans to seek an amendment to the code after learning that one of his constituents had been fined $150 for declining to answer a wildlife conservation officer's questions about a potential poaching incident.
Farmer Jack Coble had the fine overturned by arguing that it violated his right against self-incrimination.
After that case, the commission advised its officers not to cite anyone under the section, which is the appropriate response.
But, as Mr. Keller said, the provision "is not consistent with the constitutional principle that protects an individual against self-incrimination."
Lawmakers should make the law consistent with constitutional principles, while ensuring that wildlife conservation officers have the resources they need to enforce game laws.