Unlawful Hunting of Big Game | A Defense Lawyer’s Viewpoint | The Criminal and Administrative Problems in Washington
Unlawful Hunting of Big Game
As criminal defense attorneys, one of the most common and serious charges hunters deal with is unlawful hunting of big game. There are countless ways to violate the law and an intentional violation is not required. Most charges stem from a careless or honest mistakes. Basically, if you violate any rule governing the hunting, taking, or possession of big game, you can then be charged with the Unlawful Hunting of Big Game in the Second Degree (2°.) Typically, a violation will stem from not having all of the proper licenses, tags, or permits in order, or hunting in the wrong place, at the wrong time, or with the wrong type of gun.
Unlawful hunting of big game 2° is a gross misdemeanor which means the maximum penalty is a $5,000 fine and 364 days in jail and a conviction will be put on your record. A conviction will also result in a 2 year suspension of hunting privileges if the violation involved killing or possessing big game which was taken during a closed season, from a closed area, without a license, tag, or permit, using an unlawful method (like wrong type of gun), or in excess of bag limit. In addition to typical criminal fines, a criminal wildlife penalty assessment ranging from $2,000 to $12,000 will be imposed depending on the animal in question. We highly recommend engaging a criminal defense attorney.
You may be charged with Unlawful hunting of big game in the first degree (1°) if you have a previous unlawful big game conviction in the past 5 years or if you hunted, took, or possessed three big game animals within the same course of events. The same course of events typically means within a 24 hour period but could also be if a pattern of unlawful conduct is shown over a period of time. A first degree conviction is a class C felony and will result in your hunting privileges being suspended for 10 years as well as significant penalties.
It is also extremely common for Fish & Wildlife officers to seize equipment used in conjunction with a violation as well. This will typically include the gun and scope used and can include vehicles. If your property is seized, you will have a right to appeal the seizure action but you must file the appeal before a rapidly approaching deadline. If you miss the deadline, you have waived the right to appeal and have forfeited your property. The criminal defense attorneys in our office have and do handle these civil forfeiture actions. The administrative seizure case is a separate action from the criminal case. There certainly are some connections but for the most part, they proceed entirely separate.
Our office fights these kinds of charges and administrative cases vigorously as the government investigates and charges these kinds of cases zealously. The consequences of these kinds of charges can be fought and/or mitigated, especially when a competent legal team is engaged early on in the process. Do not get caught unaware. Remember, if law enforcement or a State agent is contacting you, there is no such thing as a friendly discussion: their role is to investigate potential crimes and collect evidence. Even if you believe you are doing nothing wrong, the less said to such personnel, the better. Our opinion for any criminal investigation or giving a statement is clear … contact our legal team immediately to assure your rights and freedom are protected.