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Law Office of E. Michael Linscheid

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(415) 728-9982

I represent individuals in various types of fish and wildlife violations in Northern California. There are many fish and wildlife activities throughout Northern California, such as recreational hunting, recreational fishing, waterfowl hunting, and big game hunting, that can result in serious violations. In addition, I represent commercial fishermen on the Pacific coast that harvest Dungeness crab, salmon, squid, and herring and rockfish. I also represent commercial fishermen in the administrative process before the Department of Fish and Game Commission.

What Is A Charge For Avoiding A Wildlife Check Station In California? Is This Generally Going To Be Accompanied By Other Charges?

In California, if you attempt to avoid a wildlife checkpoint or check by a wildlife warden, they will typically still conduct a search and could charge you with a misdemeanor for avoiding the check point. The fine can be about $1,000 with the potential to spend six months in the county jail. If they find additional violations in the search, you’ll also be cited for the underlying illegal activities accompanying the refusal to submit.

If A Wildlife Officer Requests To See Inside My Vehicle Or A Boat, Am I Required To Comply?

If a wildlife officer requests to see inside your vehicle or boat, you are required to comply. You are required to comply due to the fact that Fish and Wildlife Officers are permitted to conduct regulatory inspections. You are also required to display your hunting or fishing license, any fish or wildlife as well as any equipment that is used to take the fish or wildlife. Anyone engaged in the taking of fish or wildlife should always be polite, courteous, and cooperative with the wardens. Wardens are permitted to conduct a search in a fish or game- related matter, regardless of whether or not they have probable cause. Unlike other searches, they do not need to have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to conduct a search.

What Are Potential Penalties For A Conviction Of A Fish And Wildlife Violation In California?

In California, a fish and wildlife violation could be charged as a felony, a misdemeanor, or an infraction depending upon the severity of the conduct. Usually, fish and wildlife violations are misdemeanors, which includes the potential of a $1,000 fine and the potential of spending six months to a year in jail. Most hunters and ….lot of my clients are mostly concerned with the collateral consequences, especially commercial fishing clients. They get worried about substantial fines, forfeiture of their share of the proceeds of the fish or game, seizure of equipment, and the overall consequence of their ability to hunt or fish not only in California but other states as well.

Are Fish And Wildlife Violations Considered Criminal Offenses?

Fish and wildlife violations are criminal offenses, which can be charged as either an infraction, a misdemeanor, or a felony depending upon the nature of alleged conduct. These are regulatory offenses, which are different from other criminal cases or criminal violations. They carry criminal penalties as well as civil penalties. The civil penalties could include the forfeiture of your vessel, firearms and other equipment. Moreover, it can also involve the revocation of a commercial fishing permit, a recreational license, or a commercial license. The charges depend upon the nature of the activity that was involved.

How Could It Impact A Charge If The Violation Is Alleged To Have Occurred On Federal Land?

If a fish or wildlife violation occurs on federal land, the impact of the charge will depend upon the type of federal land or property. For example, fishing beyond three miles from the shoreline in the ocean could result in a federal charge, while a hunting or fishing violation on federal land could also result in a federal citation. Federal violations would be charged in federal district court in the locality in which you are cited.

The federal Lacey Act indicates that if somebody violates a fish or wildlife law in California and carries the fish or wildlife across state lines, charges can be filed in federal court.

The Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, which is composed of 48 member states, specifies that if someone’s hunting or fishing rights and privileges are suspended or revoked in one state, the other states have reciprocity. In turn, they will suspend that person’s ability to take fish or wildlife from their state. That’s a consideration that many of my clients have. They want to know how that’s going to affect their ability to hunt or fish in California as well as other states, such as the ability to hunt in Colorado in the winter or Alaska in the summer to participate in hunting or fishing activities.

What Are Some Potential Defenses To Fish And Wildlife Violations? If I Didn’t Know I Was Breaking Any Rules Or Laws, Could I Really Be Charged?

Most fish and wildlife offenses are considered strict liability offenses. Therefore, if it is determined that there was a violation of the law, it doesn’t matter whether the offender knew their conduct was illegal or whether they intended to do the act in violation of the law. For example, in California, we have Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s) whereby many fishermen, both commercial and recreational, unintentionally or unknowingly fish in these protected areas. The protected area does not typically have any physical boundaries but rather, they may only just have a waypoint on a GPS. Oftentimes, fishermen find themselves fishing in these areas unknowingly, and it is not a defense that they didn’t know. While there are other factors that might affect culpability, not knowing your conduct was illegal is not a defense to this type of violation. A defense that you can credibly argue is if someone else is responsible for the conduct or that what you did was not illegal (actual innocence).

Why Do I Need An Attorney Who Specifically Handles Fish And Wildlife Violation Cases To Defend Me?

Fish and wildlife violations, unlike other criminal offenses, involve considerable collateral consequences, which are beyond the typical punishment in a criminal case. While a citation in a fish and wildlife case is usually a misdemeanor, if the individual is a commercial fisherman, the collateral consequences could affect his livelihood. A conviction could result in the loss of a license or permit. Commercial fishing permits have a considerable value. Not only can a conviction result in the loss of such permits or licenses, but it can result in the loss of the ability to hunt or fish in California and other states pursuant to the Lacey Act. Depending upon the offense, a conviction can also result in the forfeiture of your game, equipment, and fishing boat.

Since a fish and wildlife citation may involve significant collateral consequences and requires expertise beyond that of a general criminal practitioner, it is imperative that you retain an attorney who specifically handles fish and wildlife violations. Furthermore, not only are fish and wildlife violations handled in criminal court, they also require representation before civil administrative proceedings and before the Department of Fish and Game Commission.

What Are The Most Common Hunting Related Firearm Violations In California?

In California, the most common hunting related firearms violations are offenses that occur on private property, possession of a loaded firearm in a vehicle, shooting the wrong species of wildlife, using incorrect ammunition, and hunting out of season or not during shooting hours.

For more information on Wildlife Hunting Cases, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (415) 728-9982 today.

E. Michael Linscheid, Esq.

Call Now For A Personalized Confidential Consultation!
(415) 728-9982

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