Florida Fish and Wildlife Laws

With Florida bordering multiple major bodies of water and its humid subtropical –tropical climate, Florida's extensive and diverse eco-system, has more than 575 species of wildlife that inhabit the oceans and waterways around Florida alone.

It is imperative that we keep our climate clean and safe to ensure the protection of the delicate balance that is the Florida ecosystem. What many people do not realize is that tampering with the Florida ecosystem, fishing without a license, or bringing or taking wildlife across State lines can subject you to criminal penalties. Officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission also investigate any criminal violations of state law that are committed in state parks and on the waterways such as possession of marijuana or boating under the influence.

Under Florida law, penalties are assessed by the level of the violation. Illegal activity ranges from Level One-to-Level Four offenses, depending on the violation.

Attorney for Wildlife and Fishery Violation in Ft. Lauderdale, FL

If you or someone you know has been caught fishing or hunting without a license, tagging wildlife, or any other fish or wildlife violation in Fort Launderdale or Broward County, then contact the experienced attorneys at Bacchus Law Firm. Our attorneys represent clients for any type of FWC violation in South Florida, particularly in Broward County, Hendry County, Miami-Dade County, Collier County, or Palm Beach County, Florida.

Our attorneys have been practicing in Fort Lauderdale for years, and we understand that passion and care for Florida fishery and wildlife that our fellow residents possess. However, we also understand the need for representation when hunting, or fishing does not go as planned.

With offices located in Downtown Fort Lauderdale, just minutes from the Broward County Central Courthouse, our attorneys accept cases in Miami, LaBelle, West Palm Beach, or East Naples, contact the attorneys at Bacchus Law Firm.

Call (954) 500-5555 to schedule an appointment to speak one-on-one with one of our attorneys.

Overview of Florida Fish and Wildlife Laws in Broward County

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Level One Fishery and Wildlife Violations

Level One violations generally involve fishing, hunting, or trapping without the proper Florida licenses. Florida law requires recreational hunters and fishers to be Florida residents and obtain recreational licenses for the following activities:

  • Deer Permit
  • Turkey Permit
  • Migratory Bird Permit
  • Hunting
  • Archery/Crossbow Permit
  • Muzzleloading

Penalties for a Level One Violation

The penalties for committing a Level One violation that involves failing to obtain a license or permit as required by Fla. Stat. § 379.354, is $50 plus the cost of the license or permit. The second Level One violation for hunting or fishing without a permit or license, as required by Fla. Stat. § 379.354 is $250 plus the costs of the license or permit.

The penalty for subsequent violations committed within a 36 month period will result in an additional $250 penalty. Any person who refuses to accept a citation, who fails to pay the penalty or who fails to appear before the court when required, will be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor.

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Level Two Florida Fishery and Wildlife Violations

The Florida Constitution authorizes the Fish and Wildlife Commission to enact regulations and rules regarding the State's fish and wildlife resources. Under Florida Stat. § 379.401, there are 31 potential Florida fishery and wildlife violations.

Level Two rules promulgated by Section 379.401 include but not limited to the following:

  • Rules related to seasons or time periods for taking wildlife, freshwater fish, or saltwater fish;
  • Rules establishing the bag, possession, or size limits for taking wildlife or fish;
  • Rules prohibiting access or otherwise relating to access to wildlife management areas or other areas managed by the commission;
  • Rules relating to feeding saltwater fish;
  • Rules relating to landing requirements for freshwater fish or saltwater fish;
  • Rules relating to restricted hunting areas, critical wildlife areas, or bird sanctuaries;
  • Rules relating to tagging requirements for wildlife and fur-bearing animals;
  • Rules relating to the use of dogs;
  • Rules prohibiting the use of unlawful traps;
  • Rules or orders requiring the maintenance of records relating to alligators;
  • Rules requiring the return of unused CITES tags issued under the alligator program other that the Statewide Alligator Harvest Program or the Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program.

Penalties for Level Two Violations

A person who commits a Level Two violation but who has not committed a Level Two or higher violation within the last three years commits a second-degree misdemeanor. Second-degree misdemeanors are punishable by up to sixty (60) days in jail and up to $500 fines.

If an individual has committed a Level Two or higher violation within the last three years and obtains a subsequent violation, then the penalty is enhanced. The penalty is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and up to $1,000 fines.

Subsequent violations within years of one another enhance the penalties according to Florida Statute §

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Level Three Violations

While Level One and Level Two violations generally deal with license violations and access restriction, Level Three violation deal with actions regarding the prohibited sale, transfer, or possession of Florida wildlife. An individual commits a Level Three Violation if he or she violates any of the following provisions:

  • Rules prohibiting the sale of saltwater fish;
  • Rules prohibiting the illegal importation or possession of exotic marine plants or animals;
  • Laws prohibiting the importation of freshwater fish;
  • Laws prohibiting the illegal sale or possession of alligators;
  • Laws prohibiting the taking of game, freshwater fish, or saltwater fish without a license;
  • Laws prohibiting the sale, transfer, or purchase of tarpon;
  • Laws prohibiting the illegal taking and possession of deer and wild turkey
  • Laws prohibiting the possession and transportation of commercial quantities of freshwater game fish.

The Florida Statute provides additional regulations that can rise to constitute a Level Three violation.

Penalties for Level Three Violations

An individual who commits a Level Three violation but who has not been convicted of a Level Three violation within the past ten years commits a first-degree misdemeanor. First-degree misdemeanors are punishable by up to one year in jail and up to $1,000 fines.

An individual who commits a Level Three violation within ten (10) years after a previous conviction for Level Three or higher violation commits a first-degree misdemeanor and includes the additional penalties of a mandatory $750 fine and a suspension of any recreational licenses for up to three (3) years.

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Level Four Violations

The most serious Florida Fishery and Wildlife violations are Level Four violations. These are the rules that the Commission deems the most serious. Some Level Four violations include the following:

  • Laws prohibiting the forging, counterfeiting, or reproduction of recreational license or possession of the same;
  • Laws relating to taking stone crabs;
  • Laws relating to the taking or harvesting of stone crabs;
  • Laws prohibiting the willful molestation of spiny lobster gear;
  • Laws prohibiting the unlawful reproduction, possession, sale, or trade of spiny lobster trap tags or certificates;
  • Laws prohibiting the sale of illegally taken deer or wild turkey;
  • Laws prohibiting the unlawful killing, injuring, or possessing, alligators, crocodilia, or their eggs;
  • Laws prohibiting the intentional killing or wounding of any species designated as threatened, endangered, or of special concern;
  • Laws prohibiting the killing of any Florida or wild panther.

Violation of any Level Four offenses constitutes a third-degree felony under Florida law. Third-degree felonies are punishable by up to five (5) years in prison and up to $5,000 fines.

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Additional Resources

License and Permits – Visit the Florida Fishery and Wildlife Commission website for more information about obtaining a proper license to hunt or fish Florida wildlife in the State and in and around its borders.

Section 379.401 F.S. -- Visit Online Sunshine, the official website of the Florida Legislature for more information about the penalties associated with violating Levels one through four of the Fishery and Wildlife Conservation laws.

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Find an Attorney for Fish and Wildlife Violations in Broward County, FL

If you or someone you know has been subject to criminal penalties or civil fines for violating any of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation laws, then contact one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys.

At Bacchus Law Firm we represent clients accused of multiple kinds of crimes from fishery and wildlife violations to theft or drug crimes in the Greater Miami Metropolitan area. Our cases have come from Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, LaBelle, East Naples, and Miami, Florida.

Our attorneys are dedicated to the fight to get you the best possible result. Call (954) 500-5555 for more information and to schedule a thorough consultation of your case with one of our experienced lawyers.

This article was last updated on Friday, June 9, 2017.

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