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Lake County Prosecutor Earns Fish, Game Commission Honors
Lake County Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff is an avid hunter and angler in addition to an exceptional prosecutor. CDFW Photo

At its June meeting, the California Fish and Game Commission along with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced Lake County Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff as the Commission’s 2020 Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year.

“We are immensely grateful for Richard Hinchcliff’s years of dedicated service to Lake County’s fish and wildlife, and its citizens,” said Commission President Pete Silva. “This award acknowledges our appreciation of his many years of extraordinary work and we hope that other prosecutors in the state recognize and follow his example.”

Having been an angler and hunter since the age of six, Hinchcliff has always considered the illegal take of fish and wildlife to be a form of theft from the public and a violation of ethical and responsible behavior. Throughout his lifetime spent in the field, his time with the district attorney’s office and his participation in the Lake County Environmental Crimes Task Force, Hinchcliff is doing his part to counteract the damaging effects of poaching and pollution on the ecosystem.

Since September 2000, Hinchcliff has prosecuted approximately 550 wildlife and environmental cases in Lake County. He has a conviction rate exceeding 95 percent for all fish and wildlife cases referred to the Lake County District Attorney’s office in the last 21 years. During that time, Hinchcliff has successfully obtained orders from the court to have poachers pay fines in the amount of $429,742, he has had 65 firearms ordered forfeited, and had 116 hunting licenses and 57 fishing licenses revoked from convicted poachers for one to three years. Hinchcliff was the very first prosecutor to use the “trophy enhancement” for a deer poaching conviction, which increased penalties associated with poaching trophy class game mammals and wild turkey.

Hinchcliff has mentored many Lake County wildlife officers, rookie and veteran alike, even during the pandemic. He is always available to answer questions about environmental violations, case law updates, search warrant evaluations or to provide sound advice whenever officers are seeking guidance. His assistance and availability have led to solid convictions in cases which involve serious wildlife or environmental offenses.

“California wildlife officers and the residents of California are indebted to Richard Hinchcliff’s relentless pursuit of justice and his tireless prosecution of those who would bring harm to the wildlife we care so much about,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Hinchcliff is also a sitting board member on the Lake County Fish and Wildlife Advisory Committee, having served continuously since 1986. He is active in many local and statewide charitable groups, including the Mendocino Blacktail Deer Association, California Deer Association, A-Z Foundation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, California Waterfowl Association and the Lake County Peace Officers Association.

The Fish and Game Commission annually honors a courtroom champion of California’s fish, wildlife and natural resources, a person who tirelessly prosecutes fish, wildlife, natural resource and environmental crimes in California courts. The Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year Award goes to a prosecuting attorney who exhibits:

Exceptional skill and an outstanding commitment to protecting California’s fish, wildlife and natural resources;

Superior performance in prosecuting wildlife, natural resource and environmental crimes;

Relentless pursuit of justice for the most egregious violators and keen ability to prosecute complex, controversial or landmark cases; and/or

Exemplary work promoting and maintaining a collaborative working relationship with wildlife officers in pursuit of conserving our natural resources.