I know that there is an older thread about getting caught poaching, but I just went through the experience of getting busted with my friends pass and in doing research what I read here really helped. I'd like to refresh the topic and give some advice/insight on what's going to happen if you get caught poaching and what the consequences are.
This past season I had a friend who hurt his ankle towards the end of the season and wasn't going to be able to ride anymore. I offered him a few bucks for his Brighton pass and thought I'd end the season getting a few laps in without having any problems. I figured the worst that would happen is I'd get caught, have to pay for the price of a day pass, and then get banned for the rest of the season. Had I known that Brighton involves the police and that its a class B misdemeanor, I would have just gotten a day pass in the first place.
I know each resort handles this differently, I've even heard of people being put in handcuffs at Snowbird, but this is what I went through and recommend to anyone who gets caught in the future.
1. Don't argue, don't be a dick, you're busted, and the less you argue the better. First off if you are difficult to the lifties or cops, it will go into your police report and this will hurt your chances for sentence reduction in court. Arguing will get you no where and its not worth trying to buy you're way out.
2. If you're like me and have zero court experience I recommend getting a lawyer. If you make less or equal to around $32,000 you qualify for "Modest Means" representation. You can go to the Utah Bar Association's website and apply and they will refer you to a lawyer who will work for a reduced hourly rate for a fee of around 10-15$. In my case I qualified for 75% discount and it saved me several hundred dollars. If you're in Salt Lake City I was represented By Justin Pratt From Intermountain Legal, and I would highly recommend his services.
3. If you have no criminal history your best option is to enter a plea in Abeyance. What this means is you admit to your guilt and negotiate terms with the court to have your case entered as tried, but not convicted. Typically a class B misdemeanor will have to remain on your record for 3 years from your conviction before you can have your record expunged. WIth a plea in Abeyance you will have the three year waiting period reduced to one year, pending no further criminal violations aside from minor traffic violations. You will still have to have your recored expunged, but it won't show up as a conviction on your background check.
4. 9 times out of ten the judge will accept a plea in abeyance in these cases so I wouldn't worry too much. In my case it was accepted and the 1000$ fine was reduced to $500, in addition I had to attend a critical thinking skills class which was 4 hours on a Saturday($90), and my legal fees came out to about $230(after I was refunded the balance of my $400 retainer).
$800+ is not worth poaching, and more important the criminal record I flirted with could really affect any sort of job search or position I try to obtain in the future. I hope this gives some perspective to anyone thinking about poaching or help to someone whose been busted. I'll try and keep up on this thread if anyone has any questions. Thanks for reading.