Photo of Richard Ansara - Attorney at Law
Call 24/7 at (954) 761-4011
Richard Ansara Attorney at Law

FWC Hunting Violations

Running afoul of Florida hunting regulations can land you in hot water. Allegations of hunting without a license are among the most common FWC violations. Our Fort Lauderdale defense attorneys provide superior legal counsel for those accused of FWC violations in Broward County - including Level One, Level Two, Level Three, and Level Four.

The Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission (FWC) is the law enforcement agency responsible for enforcing statutes and regulations pertaining to wildlife management and environmental protection. This includes hunting regulations and fishing regulations

The severity of penalties you face for hunting license depends to some extent on:

  • The type of animal involved.
  • How and where you were hunting.
  • If the action was taken in furtherance of commercial activity or financial gain.
  • Whether you have a prior history of similar offenses. 

Although repeat offenders are an issue for the FWC, the reality is most people cited or arrested for hunting without a license aren’t aware one was needed. In many cases, hunters were from out-of-state and may not have known special permission or paperwork was required. 

That said, ignorance of the law is not considered a viable defense. It may be a mitigating circumstance that the court will consider, but it’s still in your best interest to hire an experienced Broward FWC violations defense lawyer. 

Florida Hunting Licence Regulations

Most Florida residents and non-residents need to acquire hunting licenses per F.S. 379.354 before they are allowed to hunt the following:

  • Furbearing animals (bears, otters, bobcats, racoons [if nuisance], foxes, opossum, coyotes, gray squirrels, beavers, skunks, nutria, rabbits, etc.)
  • Deer
  • Turkey (wild turkey)
  • Migratory birds (ducks, geese, coots, common gallinules, railes, snipes, woodcocks, mourning doves and white-winged ducks) 
  • Florida waterfowl

Permits may be required in addition to a hunting license for hunting certain species. You might also need a permit for certain types of hunting, such as archery, crossbow, muzzleloading gun, trapping, etc.. That’s why it’s important to check before you head out. Certain wildlife management areas also require special permits or tags for part or all of the season.

In general, you can’t hunt alligators without special permission: An alligator harvest permit, alligator trappers license, and CITES hide validation tags. There is a statewide alligator harvest program and an alligator super hunt, but you must have an alligator trapping license to participate. There is also a private lands alligator management program, but the land owner and/or their designee must be licensed and permitted. 

There are some exceptions to hunting license and permit rules. A few examples:

  • People hunting in their county of residence on their homestead.
  • Florida residents 65+ with proof of age and residency. 
  • Florida residents with a Disabilities Hunting and Fishing License. 
  • Florida residents in the U.S. Armed Services who are not stationed in Florida while they’re home on leave with orders for 30 days or less. 
  • Children under 16. 

If you don’t qualify for an exemption and you were born after June 1, 1975, you must complete a hunter safety course if you want to hunt without supervision. (Children under 16 can hunt with adult supervision without taking the hunter safety course. F.S. 790.22 limits minors under 16 to hunting with an airgun or firearm only when supervised by a parent or an adult acting with consent of the child’s parent or guardian.)

Note that there are a number of prohibited methods for taking game mammals and resident game birds. For instance, you can’t use fully automatic firearms. You can’t shoot from vehicles, powerboats or sailboats. You can’t hunt wild turkeys with dogs. You can’t herd animals or drive game with vehicles, boats, or aircraft (this includes drones). You can’t take or attempt to take animals with live decoys, recorded game calls or sounds, set guns, artificial lights, nets, traps, snares, drugs or poisons. 

Also, it’s important to point out that Florida has specific Hunting Zones that stipulate seasons, dates, and bag limits for certain animals. Broward County is in Zone A of Florida Hunting Zones. (More specifically, we’re in Hunting Zone A1.) 

Some animals have statewide limits and seasons, but others are zone specific. The exact dates and rules for certain species are subject to change. You must check with the FWC for up-to-date information for specific hunting weapons and species in each zone. 

Hunting Licenses Aren’t Exemptions to Other Florida Statutes

Having a hunting license does not exempt anyone from laws against trespassing on private land – and doing so with a firearm or other dangerous weapon can be a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000. 

A hunting license also does not circumvent Florida statutes against convicted felons possessing firearms. This includes muzzleloading guns. 

Felons with hunting licenses can use bows, crossbows, airguns, or antique firearms during hunting season when such devices are legal for taking game. But if you are a convicted felon, you need to be super careful about this. You can be deemed in “constructive possession” of a firearm while you’re out hunting with friends even if you didn’t physically possess the gun yourself. If you know about the gun and are in a position to exert control over it, that is considered “in constructive possession.” 

Penalties for Hunting Without a License or Permit in Florida

In general (unless otherwise specified in F.S. 379.354), hunting without a license or permit is considered a Level One violation.

For the most part, these will be non-criminal infractions, with fines somewhere between $50 and $500 - plus the cost of the license/permit and court costs. 

However, if you refuse to accept or sign the citation, don’t pay it on time, or fail to appear in court as required, you are likely to be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of up to 60 days in jail. 

Also, the FWC has the authority to impose additional penalties – up to $500 more for each violation and/or $5,000 for each animal (up to $10,000). Plus, the FWC creates incentive for people to report others for these violations – up to a $100 reward for a report that leads to a citation. 

Hunting without a license can be elevated to a Level Two Violation if you’re also hunting illegally in certain restricted areas, using improper equipment, unlawfully using a borrowed/transferred license or permit or your offense relates to alligator hunting. First-time offenses are generally a second-degree misdemeanor. 

Hire a Broward Defense Attorney for FWC Hunting Violations

Understand that if you simply pay the citation for hunting without a license, you are essentially admitting guilt. That means the offense will remain on your public record forever and it can be used to enhance penalties for any future offenses. It’s best to consult with a skilled Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney with experience handling FWC violations cases. 

If you have been cited or arrested in Broward County for an FWC violation, call The Ansara Law Firm in Fort Lauderdale today for your free initial consultation at (954) 761-4011. 

Client Reviews
“Just wanted to say what a professional law firm "The Ansara Law Firm" was in handling my case and can't thank Richard enough for keeping me calm and letting me know the status of my case. You really do care about your clients and made me feel at ease during my legal issues!” Andy Austin
"Richard was thorough, patient and went above and beyond to make a hard time for my family a little more bearable. I pray we never need a criminal defense attorney again, but if we do, there is NO doubt who we're going to!" Amy
"I had a dui case and Mr. Ansara made it go as smooth as possible. He was able to time everything so I could get a new company up and running without the dui effecting my ability to drive." Sean
"I have been a client of Richard Ansara for several years now, I am pleased with his outcomes on all my cases, patience, professionalism and courteousness when I come into his office. I would definitely recommend Ansara's Law Firm to friends and family for any of their future legal needs." Emily Gutierrez