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FWC Level Four Violations

Florida Fish and Wildlife offenses, as spelled out in F.S. 379.401 and F.S. 379.4015, are ranked by tiers from One to Four - with Level 4 FWC Violations considered among the most serious. 

As our FWC violation Broward defense lawyers can explain, Level 4 violations are third-degree felony offenses. If you’re arrested for an FWC Level IV offense, you’re looking at a maximum of 5 years in state prison. 

The State of Florida takes very seriously any:

  • Flouting of environmental protection rules
  • Damage and/or destruction of wildlife and natural habitats
  • Unsafe boating

This is particularly true if the adverse impact is substantial, human safety was threatened, the defendant was financially motivated and/or has a history of noncompliance with FWC rules. 

The state even incentivizes civilians reporting on each other for FWC Level IV violations. There is a $600 reward if such a report leads to an arrest - and those reporting can have their anonymity protected. Rewards for Level 4 violations most commonly involve level trap robbing (lobster, stone crab, etc.), taking/killing an endangered or threatened species, unlawfully killing, injuring, possessing, or capturing an alligator or other crocodilian or their eggs, and felony BUI (boating under the influence), as outlined in F.S. 327.354.

Other Level 4 allegations stem from violations of FWC rules and regulations pertaining to:

  • Violation of any Level 3 offense after permanent revocation of a permit or license.
  • Release or escape of a non-native venomous reptile, per F.S. 379.305 (3).
  • Buying, selling, trying to sell, offering to sell ,conspiring to sell, barter, trade, exchange, or import for sale any species of venomous reptile, per F.S. 37.305(4).
  • Unlawfully making, forging, counterfeiting, or reproducing  a recreational license (or possessing a fake one) without FWC authorization, per F.S. 379.354.
  • Unlawful taking of stone crabs, per F.S. 379.365.
  • Unlawful taking and harvesting blue crabs, per F.S. 379.366.
  • Willful molestation of spiny lobster gear, per F.S. 379.367.
  • Unlawfully reproducing, possessing, selling, trading, or bartering spiny lobster trap tags or certificates, per F.S. 379.3671.
  • Unlawfully selling or taking deer or wild turkey, per F.S. 379.404.
  • Unlawfully selling taken bears, per F.S. 379.4041.
  • Molesting or stealing freshwater fishing gear, per F.S. 379.405.
  • Unlawfully killing, injuring, possessing, or capturing alligators or other crocodilia or their eggs, per F.S. 379.409.
  • Intentionally killing or wounding any species that’s been designated as endangered, threatened, or of special concern, per F.S. 379.411.
  • Killing any Florida or wild panther, per F.S. 379.4115.

Level 4 Violations of FWC rules are third-degree felonies, punishable by up to 5 years in prison. You can also be fined up to $5,000 - possibly more for certain offenses, at the FWC’s discretion, depending on how severe the impact of your alleged actions. See F.S. 379.4015(6), which explains that in addition to other applicable penalties, the FWC can impose against any person, firm, association, or corporation convicted of certain criminal offenses (primarily sale, possession, import, or exhibition of certain wild animals) a fine of $5,000 per animal, with a total not to exceed $10,000 for each assessment of each animal. 

Also, if you violate certain FWC rules while trespassing (specifically with respect to illegally taking, killing, possessing, or selling fish and wildlife - in or out of season - can be fined an additional $500 for each violation, plus court costs and any court-ordered restitution (which gets remitted to the State Game Trust Fund). 

Although Level 4 violations are among the most serious, they are not “stackable.” Whether it’s your first violation or your fifth, it’s always going to be charged as a third-degree felony. 

Why Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer for Level 4 FWC Violations

Level 4 FWC violations are prosecuted in criminal court. You’re facing actual prison time. You may have a defense lawyer appointed to you if you can’t afford one, but it would be supremely unwise to try to defend yourself in these matters. 

The reality is that most people - not even most attorneys - understand the intricacies of Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission rules, regulations, and state laws. Certain strategies that might work in other types of criminal felony cases won’t be effective in FWC violation cases. You’re also facing certain unique penalties related to the suspension and revocation of fishing and hunting privileges, forfeiture of guns, rods, gear, and vessels. Such actions can deliver a devastating blow to a commercial operation. 

We recognize that FWC citations and even arrests can be premature, unsupported by evidence, or sometimes based on improper interpretation of the law as it applies to the facts of your case. We will fight to protect your rights, freedom, reputation, and best interests - every step of the way.

If you have been arrested in South Florida for an FWC violation, call The Ansara Law Firm in Fort Lauderdale today for your free initial consultation at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach Counties.

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