Are you facing charges for an alleged violation of Florida boating laws or Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) regulations? Those visiting the Florida Keys, and even many who live here, are surprised to learn how seriously FWC and boating violations are taken here. Prosecutors in Monroe County frequently seek jail time on what can seem like minor fishing violations. Jail time and sever consequences can also be triggered in the cases of BUIs and fishing without a license, to name a few.

Most fishing violations in the Florida Keys are not as easily dealt with as a traffic ticket or citation. A lawyer can assist in navigating this process and ensuring that a day on the water does not result in ruining yours or your loved one’s futures.  

A boating defense lawyer from Reed Palacios Law can provide the support and guidance you need. Our team knows the law and how to defend your case effectively. We will gather evidence, talk to witnesses, and work with you to develop a strong defense tailored to your unique situation. We will represent your best interests in court and argue aggressively to reduce or dismiss the charges you are facing.

If you’re dealing with a boating or FWC resource violation in Monroe County, find out why clients in positions like yours consistently turn to Reed Palacios Law for help. Contact us today to discuss your case and learn more about your options in a free consultation.

Florida law sets strict laws to ensure everyone’s safety on the water. Breaking these laws can lead to serious consequences, including fines, jail time, and even the loss of boating privileges. Let’s dive into some of the most common boating violations under Florida law:

Boating Under the Influence (BUI)

Just like driving a car, it is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Florida law takes BUI seriously because it endangers everyone on the water.

Reckless Operation

Driving a boat in a way that could harm people or property can be charged as reckless operation. This includes speeding in crowded areas, weaving through anchored boats, or jumping wakes too close to other vessels.

Not Following Safety Regulations

Boaters must have life jackets for every person on board and follow other safety requirements, like having fire extinguishers and flares. Failure to adhere to these safety measures not only puts lives at risk but also violates state law.

Failure to Carry Boater Education ID

Florida requires boaters born on or after January 1, 1988, to have a boating safety education identification card and photo ID on board when operating a boat. Boating without these documents is a violation.

Lack of Proper Registration and Display of Numbers

Florida law requires all motorized boats to have a valid registration and to display their registration numbers clearly on the bow of the boat. Operating a boat without proper registration or display is a violation.

Failure to Report a Boating Accident

If a boating accident results in injury, death, disappearance of a person, or significant damage to property, the operator must report it to the FWC or local law enforcement. Failing or refusing to report such incidents is against the law.

The FWC enforces numerous laws to protect our state’s diverse ecosystems and wildlife. Unfortunately, unintentional mistakes or lack of awareness can lead to violations and potential legal consequences. Here are some of the most frequent FWC resource violations in Florida:

Fishing Without a License

Florida law requires most people to have a valid fishing license when fishing in state waters. Fishing without one is illegal.

Overfishing or Exceeding Bag Limits

Florida also sets limits on how many fish you can catch and keep in a day. Exceeding these limits can lead to fines and other penalties.

Hunting Out of Season

The FWC sets seasons to preserve healthy animal populations. Hunting animals outside their designated seasons disrupts wildlife management efforts and is illegal.

Illegal Capture of Protected Species

Florida protects certain species due to their vulnerable status. Capturing or harming these animals without permission is a serious offense.

Destruction of Habitat

Damaging natural habitats is illegal in Florida. This includes wetlands and nesting areas that are essential to the survival of certain species,

Littering in Natural Areas

Discarding trash in waterways or natural landscapes is unlawful. This includes any garbage, empty containers, construction materials, and other debris.

Harvesting Protected Plants

Just like wildlife, certain plants are protected under Florida law. Removing or damaging these plants without authorization is illegal.

Breaking FWC or boating rules in Florida can lead to serious consequences, including penalties that affect not just your wallet but also your freedom and future. Here’s a look at some potential legal penalties and other consequences you might face if you violate boating or FWC resource laws:

  • Fines: Most violations come with a fine, which can range from a small amount for minor infractions to thousands of dollars for more serious offenses.
  • Jail Time: Not only do charges like BUI and hunting without a license carry jail time, but in the Florida Keys, prosecutors frequently seek jail time on what seem like minor fishing violations such as possessing more lobster than the law allows.
  • Loss of License: Certain violations can lead to the suspension or revocation of your fishing, hunting, or boating licenses. Losing these privileges can prevent you from enjoying your favorite outdoor activities for a significant time.
  • Community Service: You might be required to perform community service, such as contributing to conservation efforts or helping to clean up natural areas.
  • Probation: Some offenders face probation, during which they must follow specific rules and avoid further legal trouble to avoid jail time.
  • Educational Courses: For violations like BUI, you might have to complete a boating safety course. These courses aim to prevent future violations by educating you on laws and safety practices.
  • Equipment Confiscation: Authorities can confiscate equipment used in committing a violation, such as fishing gear or boats, especially if the offense involves harm to wildlife or the environment.

Facing charges for FWC or boating violations can be daunting, but there are several defense strategies that can help. A knowledgeable attorney can protect your rights and challenge the charges against you with one or more of the following defenses:

  • Lack of Evidence: Your lawyer can argue that the prosecution lacks sufficient evidence to prove you committed the violation. If the evidence doesn’t clearly show you broke the law, the charges against you could be reduced or dismissed.
  • Constitutional Rights against Search and Seizure: If law enforcement violated your constitutional rights during an investigation or arrest, such as conducting an illegal search, any evidence gathered could be inadmissible.
  • Accident or Necessity: Sometimes, violations occur by accident or necessity. If you can prove you didn’t intend to break the law or did so to avoid greater harm, this defense might apply.

If you’re facing charges for boating or FWC violations in Florida, having an experienced defense lawyer by your side can make a significant difference in your case. A skilled attorney can take various actions to protect your rights and work toward a favorable outcome. Here are some ways a defense lawyer could assist you with your case:

  • Reviewing the details of your case thoroughly
  • Explaining your legal rights and the charges against you
  • Gathering evidence to support your defense
  • Interviewing witnesses who can corroborate your version of events
  • Challenging the legality of any evidence against you
  • Negotiating with prosecutors to reduce or dismiss charges
  • Representing you at all court appearances
  • Seeking alternative sentencing options to avoid jail time
  • Advising you on the consequences of plea deals
  • Cross-examining witnesses presented by the prosecution
  • Preparing and submitting legal documents on your behalf

Facing charges for boating or FWC resource violations in Monroe County can feel overwhelming, but you don’t have to go through this alone. Reed Palacios Law is here to help you with your case. We offer a free consultation to discuss your situation and explore your options. Call us at (786) 933-5514 to get started.