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Old 06-09-2010, 06:07 PM
AthensHunter AthensHunter is offline
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Default Need some clarification on Georgia metal detecting laws.

I need some help clarifying some laws for Georgia pertaining to metal detecting. I figured that public schools (when not in session) and public parks were both fine for detecting, but this past weekend ran into some problems with the law.

Me and my father were out detecting at a local public school, and there was nobody there, not a single person. We were detecting in sandy playground areas, so I would hesitate to call what we were doing "digging", but I guess legally you would call it that. Before we know it, a cop car rolls up and says we can't be there digging, and tells us to leave. Now, I was under the impression (after asking here when I was a new member) that public schools were fair game as long as they weren't in session or being used for any other public/school function. School has been out for 3 weeks here, and we thought we would be fine. We asked the cop why we couldn't be there since it was a public school funded in-part by our tax dollars. His reply? "This is private property belonging to the board of education!" We didn't really want a ticket for trespassing or to be arrested, so we left. I felt bad because it was me who told my father than it was OK to detect on public school property given school wasn't in session and there weren't others wanting to use the area.

So what's the deal? I looked up the law online, and all it says is:

"2. On privately-owned land, it is legal to dig for artifacts (including when artifacts have been found by metal detecting) if you have written permission of the landowner. All lands in Georgia are either owned privately or by the local, state, or federal government. This includes Civil War sites.
Hobbyists and professional archaeologists alike must determine who owns the land and ask their permission first, before undertaking any activity."

and:

"PROHIBITING METAL DETECTING ON STATE-OWNED LANDS [see 12-3-10(n)]
*** CODE SECTION ***
12-3-10
(a) As used in this Code section, the term "park, historic site, or recreational area" means a park, historic site, or recreational area which is operated by or for and is under the custody and control of the department.

(b) It shall be unlawful for any person to enter upon any park, historic site, or lands managed by the Department of Natural Resources except when in compliance with all applicable laws and all rules, regulations, and permits adopted pursuant to paragraph (1) of subsection (a) of Code Section 12-3-9.

(c) It shall be unlawful for any person, in any manner, to mark on, deface, injure, displace, dig, excavate, remove, or construct on any real or personal property on any park, historic site, or recreational area, except when done with special written permission granted by the commissioner of natural resources or his authorized representative."

Is the Department of Natural Resources the same as Parks and Recreation? Does a "recreation area" mean any and all public parks, or only Sate Parks (which obviously are off-limits)? The law is so broadly stated that it doesn't distinguish between STATE PARKS (wildlife refuges, etc) and simple public/city parks. Are public/city parks under control of the Dept. of Nat. Resources or not? I thought they were under the Dept. of Parks and Rec.? It says that ALL land in Georgia is either private or state-owned; does this mean there is zero public land? Does this essentially mean that there is NO LAND in Georgia that can be detected without written permission? I can't go to ANY park or ANY school and detect (legally) because they are all, essentially, owned by the government? What happened to schools being public property since my taxes help pay for them? Since when is the B.O.E. a private owner?

I'd hate to have to give up the hobby because I would have to ask for permission everywhere to detect. I'm sure what the response will be if I ask a SCHOOL to metal detect the grounds. What gives? This is so stupid. What should I tell my father? That he has to give up his new hobby (which he LOVES, by the way) because it's illegal in Georgia? Either that or only detect in our yard (how exciting).

EDIT: UPDATE--okay after some careful reading and Googling, it appears the Georgia Department of Natural Resources is in charge of STATE PARKS only, and NOT city or public parks. There are currently NO LAWS in our city regarding the use of personal metal detectors in parks, so it looks like those are still OK to detect in. Still working on schools, but it's hard to find any more information about them on Google.
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Old 06-09-2010, 06:35 PM
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I detected school playgrounds for years in Georgia , all over the state , and never had a problem , well one problem when a school employee asked me not to do it , he was in error and I just went back at a different time. I believe , as long as this was a public school , that the cop was wrong and didnt know what he was talking about. Never the less , since he has fired the first volley you may have to do what is normally not necessary and make contacts to get clarification. Public schools are not private property. The cop was wrong and unfortunately you happened to end up in the direct line of sight of an officer who didnt know what he is talking about and obviously didnt have anything better to do. I think the worst thing that can happen out of this is that you have to avoid that school , and maybe go to others.

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Old 06-09-2010, 06:48 PM
unomike unomike is offline
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I don't live in Georgia but maybe this will help. It would be reasonable and correct to assume that if a school system is funded by the local taxpayers it is not considered private property but rather public property. However, the local school board of education is the sole public entity responsible for the maintenance and proper use of the properties. So even though it is public property, still you must (and best) to seek written permission before metal detecting on the grounds. That way the cops or anyone else can't run you off.

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Old 06-09-2010, 06:59 PM
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One thing I've found is that many law enforcement officers have no clue about laws they are supposed to be enforcing. There are the obviously illegal things like burglary, murder, armed robbery etc. but beyond the obvious, they have no idea. They will issue a ticket for anything and most people will pay it just because they figure if a cop gave it to them, they must have broken the law and have to pay it.

If you're going to be doing something that might be potentially illegal then find out what the law says about it. I see that you looked up the law which is good and usually when you state the law to the officer, they will let it go. I've had that issue exactly 1 time with a cop over my pistol being in the glove box. I argued with him for close to an hour before he realized I was right. I told him what the law stated almost verbatim. I knew what the law was about carrying firearms in a vehicle and I knew I was well within the law which is why I spent the time arguing with him. I will argue anything if I know I am 100% right.

In your situation though, it might be a good idea to carry a copy of the law regarding public school parks with you and even double check at your local courthouse and maybe get it in writting from an official. Some cops will never admit they were wrong.

*Disclaimer- I am not bashing law enforcement officers as a whole. I have a great respect for what they do and only wished they could do more of it, more often but they are human and as we all know, humans can be stubborn and bull-headed. If we have any LEO's here, keep up the good work!

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Old 06-09-2010, 10:12 PM
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i think you just got a cop that didnt have anything better to do, i hunt public schools all the time, he might be one that takes his JOB a fuzz to serious

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Old 06-09-2010, 10:45 PM
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There are SO many little towns around with schools ripe for the picking as far as detecting is concerned that if I were you I would not give up because of this incident in that particular location. There are enough schools around to keep you in business for quite a while and most of them , especially away from the larger cities and into the smaller towns , really dont care about detecting there.

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Old 06-10-2010, 02:49 AM
Nugget Hunter Nugget Hunter is offline
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The State of Georgia did pass a law a few years ago that states the you need WRITTEN PERMISSION to use a metal detector on both public and private property. I know it sounds crazy but the people of Georgia did not fight hard enough to stop the State Historical Department from getting this enacted.
If you want the law changed now you are going to have to find a State Senator and Congressman to introduce bills for that change.
Just another reason to belong to a national group such as the FMDAC, AMDA or WWATS. Numbers count when going up against the government.
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Old 06-10-2010, 02:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nightstalker View Post
i think you just got a cop that didnt have anything better to do, i hunt public schools all the time, he might be one that takes his JOB a fuzz to serious


For real, that cop didn't understand what was going on. I agree with what everyone else has said, get some further clarification from your courthouse and carry the law with you while you're out.

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Old 06-10-2010, 07:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nugget Hunter View Post
The State of Georgia did pass a law a few years ago that states the you need WRITTEN PERMISSION to use a metal detector on both public and private property. I know it sounds crazy but the people of Georgia did not fight hard enough to stop the State Historical Department from getting this enacted.
If you want the law changed now you are going to have to find a State Senator and Congressman to introduce bills for that change.
Just another reason to belong to a national group such as the FMDAC, AMDA or WWATS. Numbers count when going up against the government.


Anybody know where to find that law on the internet ? I did a search and all I could find was where its talking about gathering artifacts and getting a permit to hunt artifacts or to detect on state land , but I dont see anything mentioned about getting written permission to city or county public land like parks or schools.

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Old 06-10-2010, 08:07 PM
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detect at night with a flashlight.

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  #11  
Old 01-25-2011, 12:22 PM
Swamp Donkey Swamp Donkey is offline
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I hear ya. I tried to call 3 differents rec department around my area. None of them could tell me wether it was ok or not. They said they had never been asked that before. Well, they said they would call me back with an answer.........still waiting.....
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Old 01-25-2011, 10:35 PM
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Where to start....
Just from reading the info provided by your posts, Written permission sound like would have helped, in that situation.
.
I had been detecting a small public park for 2 months, cops drive by every now and then, and wave. Then one day the cop comes over and said that I was "upsetting some locals".....
I said I was doing no harm. he replied " I know, I see you are not out here with a shovel... but have to ask you to leave."
I said " I Looked it up and there are no laws or ordinances against me detecting here. It is a great way to learn history and it's to bad a few misunderstanding people feel threatened by a harmless activity!"
I really said that to him , not confrontational, just informative.......
He then said "Well If the People don't want you here than you will not be here."....
....and I left.
Great......
So if pursue something like this where do you think it would get me...? I'll tell you. The town would delay, prolong , and eventually draft an ordinance against any public detecting.
But oh yeah.... about Georgia.... I'm going down to St. Simon Island area next week .... wondering about Beach Hunting Laws there....? Any one?

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Old 01-26-2011, 12:27 PM
Swamp Donkey Swamp Donkey is offline
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Reckon Imma just try to go early in the mornings before people start showing up to the local parks. If I cant get an answer from a rec dept and I get questioned by an officer......well Imma plea ignorance.
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Old 01-28-2011, 03:05 PM
chopper62 chopper62 is offline
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Default detecting schools and parks

i live in GA.also most of the schools were i live will not let you md. theres even some of the schools have signs saying when school is closed stay off land. as far as the parks i did call the county that i live in and they told me this. i can hunt in county parks but no city parks.
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Old 01-28-2011, 03:32 PM
jjk656 jjk656 is offline
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I feel your pain, im having similiar issues here trying to get clarification on some guidlines.. wish you best of luck!
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  #16  
Old 01-28-2011, 08:39 PM
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I'll go ahead and tell you. DNR has different laws concerning this. DNR has nothing to do with parks not unless it is on a WMA or state owned land that has artifacts present. County and city parks and recreation depts have the parks and such. The board of education has the schools which are public grounds. Now I would venture to say you ran into an A hole cop which there are plenty of out there or there has been trouble around the schools and people in general are just not wanted there for vandalism reasons. Five counties I hunt in and around have no problem what so ever and the law rides by regularly when they see a vehicle during off school hours. I'm sure when you were told by someone no city parks the person answering the question had no idea and gave an answer. Plain and simple also the cop answering private property was dead wrong too! He needs to be citing everyone for coming to school to pick up their kids and going to events at school. Get away from his beat and I'll bet ya you will be OK. Now I will file this disclaimer, if there are idiot detectorists there making a mess and leaving it for all to see, buy some fishing poles and a boat.

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Old 01-28-2011, 08:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nugget Hunter View Post
The State of Georgia did pass a law a few years ago that states the you need WRITTEN PERMISSION to use a metal detector on both public and private property. I know it sounds crazy but the people of Georgia did not fight hard enough to stop the State Historical Department from getting this enacted.
If you want the law changed now you are going to have to find a State Senator and Congressman to introduce bills for that change.
Just another reason to belong to a national group such as the FMDAC, AMDA or WWATS. Numbers count when going up against the government.
The law is written permission on private land only, it is a tresspass letter to give you the right in other words, can and does pertain to any activity on private land.

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Old 05-05-2012, 03:53 PM
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Default Ga cop

AS a cop in Ga for 27 plus years I had no idea about mding laws until I got into the hobby a few weeks ago. In the city I work in I have seen a few people over the years mding on school grounds after hours. When would see one mding I would just throw my hand up and wave and think to myself "thats pretty cool". I will research the law and report.

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  #19  
Old 05-07-2012, 02:12 AM
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Default Best Encounter with the Law

I had the best possible encounter with a motorcycle cop yesterday afternoon. I was mding on county property in an old residential area. I had researched my county and city's codes and ordinances to make sure there was not anything against mding, and there wasn't. So technically I was ok.

Anyway, after I had been there for about 30 minutes, here comes a cop on a harley and I thought "This is it. Someone called the police on me." But to my surprise he just drove by slow and didn't stop. About fifteen minutes later he came back with his lights on. He was pulling over a speeding driver. The driver pulled up near where I was working. When the cop got off his motorcycle, he smiled and looked over at me. The first thing he said was "Have you found any mini balls yet?" A huge sigh of relief poured over me. After the cop was finishing giving the speeder his ticket, he walked over and asked if I had found anything good. I said "Just a few wheat pennies". He then began to tell me that he owns a md and that he loves to hunt for old stuff too. He told me that the green space I was hunting on would be great for finding stuff due to the fact that folks used to picnic there a lot years ago.

I can't say how wonderful it was to have the law on your side in this hobby. I know most policemen are wonderful people, but there can be some annoying ones out there just like any profession. Glad to run into a cop that is a fellow metal detector enthusiast. He was glad to see a young person like myself out there enjoying the day.

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Old 02-25-2013, 02:06 PM
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I called the City of Cumming GA and Forsyth County Parks and both said that it was ok to hunt in the parks as long as you take care to close up holes nicely. I'll have to contact the county school board to ask about MDing. I'll post what I find out.

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