Handling Fish and Wildlife Violations in South Florida: Can You Handle It Alone?

Why hiring a proper FWC attorney is essential.

Fishing and hunting are, quite simply, part of the culture here in Florida. Indeed, Floridians are known for being active fishers and hunters, whether for leisure, meal preparation, or a combination of the two. Understandably, these industries are heavily regulated within the state by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), a government agency that conserves marine and wildlife and other natural resources. The FWC requires proper licensing/permits and training and imposes other complex parameters on hunting and fishing to support their efforts—and they can issue citations to anyone they find violating their restrictions.

An FWC violation might not seem like a big deal, but many are criminal infractions with real, potentially significant penalties. After receiving a violation, you may be tempted to try and take care of it without consulting a lawyer; but beware—mishandling the matter could have long-term consequences and other negative effects.

You have a legal right to defend yourself against an FWC charge, and you’ll get the best representation from a defense lawyer who focuses their practice on this area of law. If you were issued a citation from the FWC in South Florida, read on to learn why you need a uniquely qualified attorney like Andrew Sando of Sando Law, P.A.

Going it alone is ill-advised.

Under the law, you can represent yourself against noncriminal and criminal charges. But unless you are a trained and licensed legal professional, trying to handle it yourself is highly unlikely to leave you with the best possible results or even save you money—in fact, too often, defendants who represent themselves end up having to pay heftier fees and face steeper penalties due to their inexperience and unfamiliarity with the legal system.

Consider some common ways in which self-representation goes wrong:

  • Missing deadlines
  • Misunderstanding the charges and their severity
  • Failing to acquire adequate evidence or mount an effective legal strategy
  • Paying a violation fine without realizing that doing so is an admission of guilt
  • Failing to recognize opportunities for plea deals or other options to mitigate penalties and long-term consequences

These mistakes are easy to make when you don’t know what you’re doing and can lead to you receiving the maximum penalties such as fines, probation, jail time, and even loss of your recreational licenses.

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How an FWC-focused attorney can help you

When you face charges in an extremely niche area of the law—in this case, Florida FWC violations—it’s crucial to find a legal representative who knows the ins and outs of that unique field and the statutes that apply, who keeps constantly up to date with the ever-evolving regulations, and who devotes their practice all or primarily to that area.

Just as you wouldn’t choose a general surgeon to perform a highly specialized brain surgery despite their skill and competence, you shouldn’t select a standard criminal defense attorney to handle your FWC violation case. Consider some of the intricacies that FWC defense lawyers understand best how to manage:

  • FWC violations can carry consequences beyond what would apply to simpler criminal actions—penalties such as loss of fishing or hunting privileges, revocation of licenses, and even being required to turn over equipment such as guns, ,rods or other gear.
  • The “stacking” of FWC violations within a period of time could lead to enhanced penalties.
  • Evaluating the circumstances under which a citation was issued, or an arrest was made and whether the FWC officer complied with the state laws and statutes that govern their agency.
  • Assessing the strength of the FWC’s case against you based on the specific evidence, negotiating a more favorable deal when possible, and advising you whether to accept a deal or proceed to trial.

When’s the best time to hire an attorney?

As soon as possible after receiving a citation or being arrested for an FWC violation, you should begin the process of hiring an FWC defense lawyer. Your violation may include a court date/notice to appear and/or fines that must be paid or disputed within a certain amount of time. It’s important that you appear or respond to an FWC citation on schedule, and the earlier you secure representation from an attorney, the more time they’ll have to build your case and the better equipped they will be to represent you.

Choosing the right attorney for your case

As you consult with lawyers you’re considering hiring to represent you in your FWC violation defense, try and find out as much as you can about their experience in this particular area of law, as well as their general qualifications. Consider asking questions such as the following:

  • Roughly what percent of your cases involve FWC charges?
  • What background do you have in dealing with the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission?
  • Should I dispute the citation/charges against me?
  • Are you prepared to represent me in court?
  • How often will we be in touch?
  • Who will handle my case?

In general, you should select someone who can demonstrate their familiarity with the FWC’s rules, regulations, and procedures and devotes a considerable portion (if not all) of their practice to cases like yours. Additionally, you want a lawyer who has a plan for your defense and who is prepared to see your case through to its end, whether or not that involves court. And finally, attorney accessibility is crucial. What good is their experience if you can’t reach them when you need them, or if a paralegal will be handling the bulk of your case?

Reach out to an experienced FWC violation defense attorney today

With an impressive background as a special prosecutor for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Attorney Andrew Sando has unique insight into how the FWC operates and how violations are defeated against them. If you received a citation and want to mitigate the penalties and avoid lasting consequences, contact Sando Law, P.A. online for a free case review, or call 561-296-1665 (Toll-Free 833-SANDO-4U) to speak to a qualified defense lawyer today.

Andrew Sando

Sando Law, P.A. represents clients pre and post criminal charges, clients facing fish and wildlife violations, and clients in need of immigration counsel.