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Possession of elk antlers leads to charges for North Carolina men

Three North Carolina men faced unusual charges this summer for a crime they might not have known they were committing. According to a report, the three men pleaded guilty to criminal charges in North Carolina for possession of elk antlers. The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission says the men had antlers that came from a buck that was found dead in February 2011. It isn't clear how the animal died, but the men were charged for possessing the antlers.

Sometimes people aren't aware of laws, which might bring criminal charges against them. Law enforcement in this case doesn't blame the men for the deaths of the animals, but says they still broke the law. A U.S. Attorney said this week that the men pleaded guilty to the crimes and paid fines and processing fees. It is unclear if the men understood that by paying a fine they were pleading guilty to a crime.

This crime has garnered media attention, and might attach a stigma to the men's name that they did something illegal, even though it may have been a mistake or a misunderstanding. By paying the fine, the men may have hoped they would have avoided a criminal record, and the situation would resolve itself.

Because of the public nature of some crimes, it is important that people understand all of their rights and might be wise to speak with an attorney before paying a fine or pleading guilty to a crime. They can help protect a person's rights and make sure they understand how the legal system works.

Source: WGHP, "Three NC men charged with possessing elk antlers," Joe Borlik, July 18, 2012

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