Unlawful Transportation of Fish or Wildlife | A Defense Lawyer’s Viewpoint | The Criminal and Administrative Problems in Washington
Unlawful Transportation of Fish or Wildlife Criminal Charges
Once an animal is illegally killed, even mistakenly, charges can begin to quickly snowball and a criminal defense lawyer is necessary if results matter.
The law leaves very little room for a mistake: if the animal is left where it was illegally killed, the hunter can be charged with waste. If the animal is moved after an illegal kill, there could potentially be a charge of unlawful transportation of fish & wildlife. A second degree (2°) violation of unlawful transportation is a misdemeanor crime and runs the risk of a criminal conviction.
Unlawful Transportation of Fish or Wildlife in the second degree would be charged if the animal in question was not designated as big game, endangered, or is fish, shellfish, or wildlife having a value greater than $250. A second degree violation can also stem from processing but failing to affix or notch a big game transport tag.
A first degree (1°) violation stems from situations not classified for second degree, such as involving big game, endangered fish or wildlife, or wildlife with a value over $250. Transporting shellfish, shellstock, or equipment used in commercial shellfish endeavors without a permit also will result in a first degree charge.
The one key point about this charge is there is a “knowing” component to it. The individual must knowingly import, move within the state, or export fish, shellfish, or wildlife in violation of a department regulation.
As criminal defense lawyers we emphasize awareness that any interaction with government agents on State, Federal or Private Land should be treated as a criminal investigation by the hunter and any others in the party should abide by our opinion on giving statements to any officer when approached. As an old wise hunter once said, “the less said the better.”
The facts leading to an unlawful transportation of fish & wildlife charge will also commonly result in a very expensive property seizure. For example, if the wildlife was transported from the scene of the crime with an ATV or a truck, Fish & Wildlife officers will very likely seize the vehicle. You will then have a deadline to file an appeal of the seizure otherwise you have forfeited your property. The consequences of these kinds of charges and seizure actions can be fought and/or mitigated, especially when a competent legal team is engaged early on in the process. Do not wait till to late or get caught unaware and make the situation worse: use competent, experienced private representation to fight for the best result.