$6,000 fine for crossing the tracks

Discussion in 'What's On Your Mind?' started by Mike, Aug 11, 2012.

  1. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

  2. Sunny Goth

    Sunny Goth Original Member Coach

    That's a pretty steep fine, still....

    "I wasn't throwing rocks at the train, I wasn't throwing myself on the tracks, I wasn't loitering," she said.

    Doesn't matter, still trespassing.

    "My neighbor who grew up here...He said he's seen it hundreds and hundreds of times over the past 40 years," Rensink said.

    The old 'everyone does it' excuse never works.

    I doubt she's going to win her appeal.
  3. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    Depends -- a lot of railroad property isn't "property" at all but merely an easement. Title to much of what appears to be railroad "property" in this country is actually vested in the adjacent property owners. There is a reasonable chance that a good lawyer could make hay out of the charges.
  4. Sunny Goth

    Sunny Goth Original Member Coach

    If there's an easement, okay. But if the land does belong to Union Pacific (I was looking at the photo in the article), she's not going to win. And if the land belongs to the adjacent property owners, then it depends on whether they want to sue her or not. The woman is still trespassing on private land (it either belongs to the railroad or the adjacent property owners).
  5. nachtnebel

    nachtnebel Original Member

    That fine is unbelievably excessive, given the location of those tracks, with which I'm familiar. and the customary practice of everyone cutting across them. These tracks cut right through the town for miles near many residential areas with no barriers and fencing to speak of, not raised beds, just flat ground contiguous with streets and paths everywhere. There are always a bazillion kids cutting across them. Trains are going slow through there most of the time.

    There has been NO attempt on the part of the railroad to keep ANYONE out.

    The real problem is to the west of this area where numb skulls have on occasion left step ladders with full cans of paint right at windshield level of the oncoming passenger trains.

    I defer to the lawyer amongst on on the legality of this, but this simply stinks as a matter of justice.
  6. Sunny Goth

    Sunny Goth Original Member Coach

    I'm assuming that we're looking at the intentional tort of trespass -- a civil matter. I couldn't tell from the article whether or not this was being treated as a criminal trespass.

    Here's a great short definition and discussion of trespass. Scroll down till you get to 'trespass to land' and you'll see that the law doesn't really care why you trespassed, only that you did.

    But yes, I agree, $6,000 seems a little extreme. I don't know why the fine was so steep.
  7. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

  8. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    Was the photo taken at the exact location of the "trespass", or did they just run a file photo of a UP sign from a railyard?
  9. RB

    RB Founding Member

    Isn't the penalty for committing a crime suppose to be in line with the degree of criminality, the punishment fits the crime concept? Even if the person did trespass what would a reasonable person place the penalty at? $6,000 is an unusual punishment for this particular violation.
  10. Elizabeth Conley

    Elizabeth Conley Original Member

    "Oh I like Jim Hill, he's a good friend of mine
    That's why I'm hiking down Jim Hill's main line."

    When my Dad was in a cheerful mood he's whistle and sing this song:


    I learned a lot of history from folk music. Someone would sing, and then they'd explain.

    I know that bad stuff can happen to people who sleep on the rail road tracks, and with post 9-11 terrorism hysteria actually getting worse instead of better, LEO's imaginations have shifted into overdrive.

    Still, I think Americans are out of their collective minds. I've walked along rail road tracks before. Sometimes they're the best access to remote locations that are really worth the hike. Besides, now that forest fires are rare, clearings for berries and wildflowers are scarce. Clear cuts for power lines and railroads are great places to find native meadow plants that used to thrive in the wake of wild fires.

    Too many things are illegal, and a 6,000 dollar fine is "cruel and unusual." That's a huge chunk of food, shelter, education and clothing to steal from someone just to prove a very silly point.
  11. Sunny Goth

    Sunny Goth Original Member Coach

    The 'more info' article you posted says that it was a misdemeanor, so we are dealing criminal trespass. I still don't get why the fine was $6,000.

    It's unclear why the fine, which is a misdemeanor, is $6,000. In a 2011 article about train track citations published by the Cal Poly student newspaper, a Union Pacific representative said the trespassing fine was usually $100 to $200 but could be as high as $2,000. This seems to match language from the penal code covering train track trespassing (which is actually listed as a Health and Safety code violation).

    So was the judge having a bad day? Just felt like being capricious and arbitrary? Don't know. But if the woman goes to trial, her attorney could argue that the fine is excessive. I don't think that the woman is going to get away from ticket entirely though.
  12. Sunny Goth

    Sunny Goth Original Member Coach

    Generally speaking, yes. There are areas of the law where the punishment is no where near in line with crime committed. Doesn't mean I think that that's right, it's just an observation.
  13. Bill

    Bill Member

    Way to go Sunny Goth. Convicted her without even knowing the charge nor the facts. Folks jumping to conclusions is why we have judges and juries.

    The charge was 369(i) and it turns out it requires three elements. You have to be on Railroad property (within 20 feet of tracks), and without permission. She admits to both of these and so you've convicted her. The third requirement to make this ticket work requires that you interfered with the safety or efficiency of a Railroad Train. Thus lies the question, how did she disrupt a train?! We'll all have to wait to find that out but as far as I've been told, the only train around was parked down on the tracks and filled with the Livermore Mayor and other dignitaries that where invited for the dog-and-pony-show on National Train whatever day. The over zellious Railroad Police Officer was there to demonstrate an arrest of a criminal and likely forgot that third element for the ticket to stick.

    By the way, the officer was notified during the arrest that the area is not properly posted (as required by law) but nothing was done. The Government officials that had this dangerous situation demonstrated also have had time to safe the area. As of this date, the only action that has been taken to make this area safer has been done by the victim on this ticket. I'll wait to see how the trial goes before I convict anyone - especially not knowing all the facts. I think it best others stop jumping to conclusions as well.
  14. Sunny Goth

    Sunny Goth Original Member Coach

    Huh? I was looking at the newspaper article and discussing it along with others, while trying to figure out why the fine was so high. It wasn't a legal opinion or anything like that.
  15. Bill

    Bill Member

    Oh ya?! You've got her for trespassing - which isn't solely against the law at that location. You've decided that many people doing it doesn't make her not guilty - which also is a judgmental decision. The laws in fact do lean towards what the average people would do. The burden is on controlling a situation so the average person would choose not to do a given action (ie Properly Posting).

    You doubt she'll win her [case]. No judgement has been rendered so an Appeal doesn't even enter the picture at this point.
  16. Bill

    Bill Member

    By comparison, if you get caught driving your car around a flashing controlled crossing (so a train is coming at you) in some areas, you can get fined a whopping $200. Remember she wasn't beating not interfering with any train and got slapped with $6000 misdeamenor. That's craziness.

  17. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    Welcome to Travel Underground. We DISCUSS things here, and you need to chill a bit.

    With regard to the link you pasted into your response, please provide some description or discussion along with the link. Travel Underground is not a link farm. Posts should make sense and be readable on their own without following links.

    Thank you.
    The Mgmt.
  18. nachtnebel

    nachtnebel Original Member

    Thanks for the info, Bill. Sounds like there'll be a second side of this story to come. It looks like another disgusting game of Gotcha at work. There are thousands and thousands of miles of tracks over this country. Pedestrians and hunters cross them all the time. Do you think they do so only at road crossings? Ridiculous. Btw, the story you linked to, about sting operations from trains to take advantage of vehicles trying to beat the trains is interesting. The penalty for doing this successfully, if caught is $200. If unsuccessful, the penalty is usually death... Enough of a deterrent for most folks.

    added thought:

    Note to Railroads: You have an unpatrollable and unmonitorable extent of tracks to deal with. You rely on the communities and people the tracks pass through for help in deterring and reporting vandalism. And yet you seek to alienate those same communities and people by acting this way? How stupid can you be?
  19. RB

    RB Founding Member

    ^ to the Head Coach.
    nachtnebel likes this.
  20. Elizabeth Conley

    Elizabeth Conley Original Member

    I'll be watching this one. If just walking near or around rail road tracks or crossing them constitutes "interfering with the safety or efficiency of a railroad train," I will be deeply disappointed (yet again) in my country and its judges.

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