Bonney Lake Fish and Wildlife

Have You or a Loved One Been Charged With a Fish & Wildlife Violation in Bonney Lake?

Hunting and fishing in the great outdoors is a way of life for many residents and visitors to Pierce County.

Fish and Wildlife regulations can change seasonally, so it’s understandable that many people get charged with violations, whether they are a seasoned hunter/fisher or a novice just starting.

If you or a loved one have been charged with a fish and wildlife violation in Pierce County, an experienced Bonney Lake criminal defense attorney can help you make informed legal decisions on how to best defend yourself against real or perceived charges. A lot of people who find themselves before the courts charged with these offenses go “self-represented,” not fully understanding the stakes. If convicted of a serious fish and wildlife violation, you risk not only your licenses and tags, but also jail time, heavy fines, and asset confiscation.

We have designed this website to provide some basic information about common fish and wildlife violations seen in Pierce County. Of course, this information is not meant to be used as legal advice. If you have questions about fish and wildlife violations, such as

  • Do I need a hunting/fishing license if I am visiting Bonney Lake?
  • What sort of punishment is common for convictions of hunting/fishing violations in Pierce County?
  • Do I need a lawyer to fight a hunting/fishing violation in Pierce County?
  • What is the ICA and does Washington state participate in it?

We encourage you to contact our Bonney Lake criminal defense attorneys today. We offer a free case consultation for each prospective client so that we can answer your questions, and begin to build a defensive strategy for your charge.

Common Fishing Violations and Their Punishments in Pierce County

All residents and visitors of Bonney Lake hoping to dip their lines into one of the area’s waterways must first acquire a fishing license.

Violation of this state requirement will result in a charge of Unlawful Fishing, the most common fishing violation in Pierce County.

There are two levels of Unlawful Fishing- Unlawful Fishing in the 1st Degree, and Unlawful Fishing in the 2nd-degree.

According to state statute RCW 77.15.370, Unlawful Fishing in the 1st degree will be charged when

“(a) The person takes or possesses two times or more than the bag limit or possession limit of fish or shellfish allowed by any rule of the director or commission setting the amount of food fish, game fish, or shellfish that can be taken or possessed for noncommercial use;
(b) The person fishes in a fishway;
(c) The person shoots, gaffs, snags, snares, spears, dipnets, or stones fish or shellfish in state waters, or possesses fish or shellfish taken by such means, unless such means are authorized by express department rule;
(d) The person fishes for or possesses a fish listed as threatened or endangered in 50 C.F.R. Sec. 223.102 (2006) or Sec. 224.101 (2010), unless fishing for or possessing such fish is specifically allowed under federal or state law;
(e) The person possesses a white sturgeon measuring in excess of the maximum size limit as established by rules adopted by the department;
(f) The person possesses a green sturgeon of any size; or
(g)(i) The person possesses a wild salmon or wild steelhead during a season closed for wild salmon or wild steelhead.”

Unlawful Fishing in the 1st degree is charged as a gross misdemeanor, which means that if convicted, you could be facing a sentence of up to 364 days of jail imposed and a $5000 fine. All gross misdemeanor charges acquired in Bonney Lake will require a court appearance at the Pierce County District Court, located in Tacoma.

Unlawful Fishing in the 2nd-degree is slightly less complicated. Simply put, you will be charged with this violation if you fish for fish or shellfish and have not purchased the appropriate fishing or shellfishing license and catch record card. This violation is categorized as a simple misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or up-to a $1,000 fine. If your Unlawful fishing in the 2nd-degree charge requires a court appearance, you will either need to appear in the Pierce County District Court, or the Bonney Lake Municipal Court. The location of your appearance is determined by several factors which an experienced Bonney Lake criminal defense attorney can explain to you.

Common Hunting Violations and Their Punishments in Pierce County

One of the most common violations hunters may have to face in Pierce County is also one of the most serious wildlife violations, Unlawful Hunting of Big Game.

Unlawful hunting of big game is broken down into two separate charges-

  1. Unlawful hunting in the Second Degree is charged when you hunt for, take or possess big game and do not have and possess all licenses, tags, or permits required. It can also be charged if you violate any department rule regarding seasons, bag or possession limits, closed areas, closed times, or any other rule governing the hunting, taking, or possession of big game. In addition to having your hunting license suspended, a conviction of unlawful hunting of big game in the second degree is a gross misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 364 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
  2. Unlawful Hunting in the First Degree happens when you hunt for, take, or possess three or more big game animals within the same course of events; or the act occurs within five years of the date of a prior conviction for this charge. Unlawful hunting of big game in the first degree is a class C felony, which is punishable by up to five years in jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000. In addition, the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife will revoke all hunting and fishing tags and licenses and order your hunting privileges suspended for 10 years.

All gross misdemeanor hunting violation charges are adjudicated at the Pierce County District Court, and all felony hunting violation charges are adjudicated at the Pierce County Superior Court, which is also located in downtown Tacoma.

How a Bonney Lake Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You With a Fish and Wildlife Violation

One important factor that all hunters and anglers need to take into consideration when deciding whether or not to hire a Pierce County criminal defense attorney is the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, also known as the Interstate Compact Act (ICA). Washington state is one of 47 states that participates in the ICA. What this means for residents and visitors to Bonney Lake is that all license suspensions and revocations under wildlife laws within Washington will be recognized in each of the other 47 states that belong to the ICA.

If you want the best chance of keeping your hunting or fishing license, you need an experienced Bonney Lake fish and wildlife violation lawyer. Very few attorneys fully understand or even represent fish and wildlife violations. With over 50 combined years of experience navigating the complex and often convoluted Washington state laws, our Pierce County criminal defense attorneys have worked on many different fish and wildlife charges. Contact our firm today to set up a free case consultation.

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