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Can hunting violations lead to felony charges?

On Behalf of | Jul 27, 2017 | Blog

North Dakota hunters understand that game and fish laws govern their actions. They dictate where, when and what you are able to hunt. Violating these laws can come with fines and misdemeanor charges. But did you know that House Bill no.1188 made it possible for you to face felony charges for violating hunting laws?


When can you face felony charges?

Before House Bill no. 1188 passed in 2009, hunters had to kill a federally protected animal in order to be charged with a felony. Now it is possible to face a felony charge and penalties for accumulating a number of misdemeanor charges.

Under Bill 1188, your current misdemeanor is looked at along with any past charges. This allows law enforcement to serve repeat offenders harsher penalties.

You can be charged with a class C felony if:

  1. You are convicted of 5 or more misdemeanors in a 2 year period of time
  2. You are convicted of a misdemeanor after having been convicted of 7 or more misdemeanors in a 10 year period of time
  3. You assist another individual who commits 5 or more misdemeanor offenses within a 3 year period of time

When do you get charged with a misdemeanor?

Hunters can be charged with a misdemeanor when they break North Dakota’s fish and game laws. A few examples include:

  • Leaving your hunting dog unattended and it kills a big game animal
  • Hunting game out of season
  • Using artificial lights to kill big game
  • Hunting without a license

To learn more about North Dakota laws and misdemeanor charges, visit North Dakota’s Legislative Branch website.

What happens if you are charged with a felony?

Along with the felony charge, you can face up to five years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine. You will lose your hunting privileges for at least 5 years. Depending on the severity of the case, you may lose your hunting rights for the rest of your life. Being charged with a felony could also strip you of your right to own firearms.

Why did North Dakota change the law?

The state did not feel that minimal fees and misdemeanor charges were enough to deter some hunters from breaking the law. To protect North Dakota’s natural resources, they added the possibility of a felony charge to make some of the most serious offenders think twice before breaking game and fish laws.

If you are charged with violating North Dakota’s game and fishing laws, consider contacting an attorney who can support your legal interests and walk you through your options.