For Federal Charges, Is It Critical To Have Someone Who Is Familiar With Federal Criminal Cases?
The federal courts have jurisdiction over fish and wildlife violations for offenses that occurred in federal lands and waters. Federal waters include waters that are more than three miles from the shore up to 200 miles from shore. The federal courts also have jurisdiction over violations of the Lacey Act. It is critical that a person who finds themselves charged with a fish and wildlife violation consult and retain an attorney familiar with nuanced federal court laws and procedures. In the course of my career, I have litigated matters before the federal court and federal administrative bodies.
Tell The Readers About The History And Development Of The Fishing And Wildlife Protections And Laws At Both The State Level In California And At The Federal Level?
The California and federal government have had fish and wildlife laws on the books for over 100 years. In California, before even becoming a state, the fish and wildlife laws were enforced by both Spanish and Mexican governments. The first such law was when the Mexican government issued a decree declaring certain hunting illegal, which was back in 1830. In 1851, California enacted its first law directly addressing fish and game and concerned the right to take oysters. Then, in 1852, the state enacted laws for certain counties protecting bear and wood ducks. And then, in 1854, the law expanded through the entire state of California, protecting the same species. Finally, in 1860, the state expanded control over fish and wildlife by enacting a discriminatory law precluding those of Chinese and Mongolian descent from taking fish without first purchasing a license.
It wasn’t until the early 1900s that the state of California began enacting laws for the issuance of hunting licenses. Then, in 1954, the state of California passed laws requiring hunter safety training for those 16 years of age and older to be able to hunt.
Similarly, the federal government established the US Commission on Fisheries in 1871, and the purpose of the Commission was to study and recommend solutions to the decline of fisheries. Then, in 1900, the Lacey Act was passed, which was a groundbreaking law. The Lacey act made it illegal to transport, sell, receive, acquire or purchase through interstate or foreign commerce any wildlife taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of federal law. This law is still on the books today and has ramifications for anyone who hunts and fishes.
In 1913, the federal migratory bird law came into effect and adopted bird hunting regulations. Following the enactment of the 1913 federal migratory bird law, in 1918, the migratory bird treaty act became law preventing the taking, possessing, buying, selling, or purchasing any migratory bird or its parts or its nests. And this law, again, is also still on the books and is heavily enforced with significant fines for violations. Finally, in the 1930s, the bird hunting stamp act became law requiring all bird hunters over 16 to purchase a stamp to affix to their license, now referred to as the Federal Duck Stamp, which every waterfowl hunter in California must purchase.
In 1974, the Endangered Species Act was passed, creating additional regulations for hunters and anglers. As the laws progressed, the increased regulations in California and the federal government have increased the consequences to those who hunt and fish recreationally and commercially.
What Are Some Of The Most Common Fish And Wildlife Violations That You See Charged In California And At The Federal Level?
In California, the most common fish and wildlife violations involve those where people exceed their limits; whether it be fish or game, they have too many of what they’re trying to harvest. Also, common is when commercial and recreational fishers improperly use gear and taking species out of season. Most of the people that seek to retain my services have been accused of at least one of these types of violations, and this is true of both the weekend hunter or angler who may be overwhelmed by the changing regulations as well as the seasoned commercial fisherman who made a mistake or due to being busy or overwhelmed by the regulatory complexities of their fishery.
Common federal violations include violations of the Lacey Act, Federal Migratory Species Act, and National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which regulates the commercial groundfish fishery.