Port Orchard Fish and Wildlife Lawyer
Do you like to hunt and fish around Port Orchard? Whether you enjoy casting a line or donning camouflage to take down dinner, it is important to know that regulations exist for these popular activities. If you or a loved one have been charged with a Fish and Wildlife violation in Kitsap County, having an experienced Washington State criminal defense lawyer on your side can mean the difference between freedom and serious consequences.
If you’re a hunter or fisherman, you already know that feeling you get when your day out in nature is suddenly interrupted by a uniformed officer. Sometimes it seems like they’re trying to find a reason to charge you with a crime, even though you always try to do everything by the book.
The most important information we can impart to you regarding your charge is do not assume that a fishing violation is not a big deal; failure to take action on your case can result in a default judgment with a heavy fine or even a warrant for your arrest.
Like the wildlife they’re designed to protect, Washington Fish & Wildlife violations are incredibly varied and complex; plus they can carry hefty consequences, which is why, regardless of the violation, we recommend enlisting the assistance of an experienced attorney. Even hunters trying their best to comply with the law can get charged with a fish and wildlife crime.
This website details some of the most common Fish & Wildlife violations that happen in Port Orchard and around Kitsap county. If you would like to speak more in-depth about your specific charges or concerns about fish & wildlife violations, please contact our firm. Experienced Port Orchard criminal defense attorneys are standing by to assist you, starting with a no-cost case evaluation.Common Fish & Wildlife Violations in and Around Port Orchard
Unlike many unlawful acts, many people violate hunting and fishing regulations without ever being aware. As a result, when you are met with legal action, you are often unaware of what led to the citation. The best way to avoid an accidental violation is to be cognizant of what actions are considered unlawful.
Let’s start with the first word in Fishing & Wildlife violations; fishing. Kitsap County has more than 250 miles of saltwater shoreline around Puget Sound and Hood Canal, providing ample fishing and shellfishing opportunities for locals and visitors.
The most common fishing violations that occur in Kitsap county are Unlawful Recreational Fishing in the first degree and Unlawful Recreational Fishing in the second degree.
For an example of just how complex fishing regulations can be in Washington State, here is an excerpt from State Statute RCW 77.15.370, regarding Unlawful Recreational Fishing in the First Degree
“(1) A person is guilty of unlawful recreational fishing in the first degree if:
(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.”
Believe it or not, this is just a small section of that particular statute. Violating these rules can result in negative consequences for your fishing license and misdemeanor charges, as well as having to pay fines should the fish in question die as a result. Misdemeanor charges may require you to appear in either the Port Orchard Municipal Court or the Kitsap County District Court.
Unlawful Fishing in the Second Degree is slightly easier to understand. 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.
The two major Wildlife violations that occur around Port Orchard and throughout Kitsap county are unlawful hunting of big game and unlawful hunting of wild animals.
For the purposes of Washington State law, these animals are considered big game
- Black bear
- Mountain goat
- Bighorn sheep
Unlawful hunting of big game is broken down into two separate charges. Citation for unlawful hunting in the second degree happens 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 including game reserves, closed times, or any other rule governing the hunting, taking, or possession of big game. Unlawful hunting of big game in the second degree is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to 364 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $5,000. In addition, the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife will suspend your hunting privileges for two years.
Citation for unlawful hunting of big game 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 under this title involving unlawful hunting, killing, possessing, or taking big game. 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.
Unlawful hunting of wild animals is also broken down into two separate charges, unlawful hunting of wild animals in the first degree, and unlawful hunting of wild animals in the second degree. The state statute for both violations is written almost exactly the same as the statutes regarding unlawful hunting of big game in the first and second degrees, although there are two key differences.
- Unlawful hunting of wild animals pertains to all wild animals not classified as big game.
- Unlawful hunting of wild animals in the second degree is a simple misdemeanor, and unlawful hunting in the first degree is a gross misdemeanor. That means it carries slightly lower punishment thresholds than unlawful hunting of big game charges.
The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife has become more and more aggressive in investigating and prosecuting perceived violations of the law. It is common for Fish & Wildlife officers to seize any equipment used in conjunction with a violation. Without the help of an experienced Port Orchard criminal defense attorney, you may have trouble getting your property back.How Can a Port Orchard Criminal Defense Attorney Help You With a Fish and Wildlife Charge?
Hunting and fishing are a way of life for many Washington residents. Being home to many richly populated waterways and wooded areas, fishing and hunting enthusiasts in Kitsap county often engage in their favorite pastimes without educating themselves on rules and regulations.
Fish and Wildlife violations may sound trivial, but these charges and citations can carry serious consequences. Violating a state-mandated regulation can result in hefty fines and license forfeiture. Depending on the severity of the crime, you may even face jail time. It is vital that you take all mentions of legal action seriously.
Our attorneys believe you should not lose your ability to partake in your favorite pastime due to a lapse in judgment. If you have been cited with a Fishing and Wildlife violation, contact our team of Port Orchard criminal defense attorneys today. We can help you fight the charges so that you can get back to doing what you love.