The hunting season in Michigan will be in full swing soon. For instance, starting in October, bow hunters will be allowed to take deer. Pheasant hunting season will also start in October. And Black Bear hunting starts the week after Labor Day.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is the agency in charge of enforcing this state’s hunting and fishing laws.
The officers of this agency are serious about their jobs, and they will not hesitate to press charges against hunters whom they believe have violated Michigan’s laws.
Penalties for these violations can be very serious. In many cases, a hunter can be sent to jail for a violation and face significant fines.
In some cases, such as if they are convicted of illegally taking certain big game or turkey, hunters may have to pay thousands of dollars in restitution. They also may lose their hunting licenses for several years and could face other penalties.
Finally, many hunting violations are criminal misdemeanors, meaning that someone convicted of them will have a long-term criminal record that could be seen by prospective employers and others.
A defense may be available to hunting charges
As is the case with other criminal offenses, a resident of the greater Detroit area and throughout Michigan who faces a hunting or fishing violation has the right to present a defense.
While sometimes the best strategy is to admit a mistake and negotiate for the least punishment possible, in other cases, game wardens (conservation officers) and prosecutors may not have the best case.
Like any other officer, a game warden / conservation officer could simply not get the complete picture of what really happened and why. Again like any other law enforcement official, DNR officers must respect the rights of hunters.
Michigan hunters who are facing criminal hunting violations should evaluate their options carefully. Do not take a plea unless you have consulted with an experienced outdoors and hunting / fishing law attorney.