Tumwater Fish & Wildlife

Have You Been Cited for a Fish & Wildlife Violation in Thurston County?

Thurston County may be small compared to King or Pierce County, but it’s rich in fish and wildlife for avid sportsmen. Lakes around the county are worth fishing for their high numbers of trout, largemouth bass, panfish, catfish, and kokanee (land-locked sockeye salmon), and hunters can find waterfowl on Puget Sound waterways as well as deer, elk, bear, and cougar by hunting on commercial forest land.

But no matter what animal you’re looking to take down, 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 Thurston County, having an experienced Washington State criminal defense lawyer on your side can mean the difference between freedom and serious consequences.

We understand that even seasoned hunters and fishermen can make a mistake that could lead to serious legal penalties. Because game rules and regulations are not common sense, it is not uncommon for them to be misinterpreted. Ignorance of the laws is not an applicable defense for Fish and Wildlife violations in Washington State. Regardless of the situation or offense, a Tumwater wildlife attorney can help you with an aggressive defense.

This website details some of the most common Fish & Wildlife violations that happen in Tumwater and around Thurston county. For more specific information on Fish & Wildlife laws or details about your specific charge, please contact our team of Tumwater criminal defense attorneys. We offer a no-cost initial case consultation to provide you more information about your rights.

Common Fishing Violations in and Around Tumwater

The most common fishing violations that occur in Thurston county are Unlawful Recreational Fishing in the first degree and Unlawful Recreational Fishing in the second degree. Residents and non-residents alike must have a license to fish in Washington waters.

Already have a license? That doesn’t mean you can’t still be charged with an unlawful recreational fishing crime.

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.”

Violating these rules can result in negative consequences for your fishing license as well as misdemeanor charges, and you may have to pay fines should the fish in question die as a result. Misdemeanor charges may require you to appear in Thurston County District Court, which is located in Olympia.

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.

Want to fish in the ocean? You need a saltwater license.
Want to fish in lakes and rivers? You need a freshwater license.
Just looking to snag a few Dungeness crabs? Depending on where you’re fishing for them you’ll need a generic shellfish license unless you’re specifically fishing in Puget Sound. State law requires all recreational Dungeness crab fishermen in Puget Sound to have a Dungeness crab endorsement and a current 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.

Common Hunting/Wildlife Violations in Thurston County

The biggest Wildlife violation that occurs around Tumwater and throughout Thurston county is the 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.

If you find yourself charged with breaking a law or regulation, contact our Tumwater criminal defense attorneys today. Our team has over 50 combined years of criminal defense experience, including successful representation in cases involving fishing and hunting regulations.

How Can a Tumwater Criminal Defense Attorney Help You With a Fish and Wildlife Charge?

As an avid fisher or hunter, you may not be thinking about the intricate regulations involved with fishing or hunting until it is too late. If you have been arrested for a fish and game violation, you need an attorney who is well-versed in these charges, can help you to avoid unwanted penalties, and ensure your rights are protected.

If you have been issued a citation or arrested on a fish and game violation, please contact our Tumwater criminal defense attorneys immediately. No matter what fish and game violation you are being charged with, a lawyer can greatly improve the chances of receiving a more favorable outcome. We have experience with all aspects of these violations and their nuances. There are several defenses and alternate resolutions to fish and game violations.

Don’t take your freedom for granted. Get professional legal help as soon as you possibly can to plan a defense strategy. Contact us today for a free case consultation.

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