Key West offers abundant opportunities to enjoy marine activities, whether you are a deep-sea fishing or flats fishing enthusiast. But it’s easy to run afoul of the vast network of Florida laws protecting fish and other marine life. Anything from not having the right license to going over the maximum lobster catch allowed could land you in trouble. You could receive a ticket or you could be charged with a misdemeanor for a more serious violation, such as spearfishing with a bangstick or powerhead.
Your first line of defense is learning the rules that pertain to your activity. For saltwater activities in the Keys and elsewhere in the state, review fishing rules and regulations before leaving shore.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is the agency that monitors and enforces state and federal statutes. FWC officers patrol on and offshore and can issue citations or conduct investigations concerning marine-life crimes. If you are stopped by FWC officials, be polite but explain that you would like to have your lawyer present for any questioning. At that point an officer should stop questioning you. Even if an officer tells you that you are facing only a small fine, do not take the promise at face value. The officer could be hoping you will give up additional information. Contacting a lawyer right away can save you in fines and other penalties, including probation or even jail time.
The most serious hunting and fishing violations can result in months of jail time and hundreds of dollars in fines. Contacting an experienced lawyer who is knowledgeable in federal and state marine life laws can help you avoid an unpleasant outcome.
Alan Fowler and his law firm, Key West Criminal Defense, have extensive experience fighting for his clients in marine life violation cases in Key West, the Florida Keys, and Monroe County, Florida. Call (305) 417-9378 or contact us online for a free consultation.