In Michigan it is the responsibility of every hunter, and every person who fishes, to know the laws as it relates to their hunting and fishing privileges. These laws and penalties are always subject to revision, and it is recommended that you read the Michigan Hunting and Trapping Digest for the current year at the start of the season. When a DNR conservation officer issues a ticket, their are certain offenses that carry mandatory penalties upon conviction:
- Violation of permits to hunt/fish, hunger/fishing out of season, bag limit violations, shooting during prohibited hours, and improper methods of taking game can lead to a fine from $50 to $500 dollars and a maximum of 90 days in jail.
- Illegally taking a deer carries a mandatory minimum of 5 days in jail and a maximum sentence of 90 days. This offense also will lead to the imposition of restitution of $1000 per animal and another $1000 if antlered. For trophy deers, their is also restitution of $500 for each point for a deer with 8 to 10 points, and $750 for each point for deer with 11 or more points. On top of this, there is a revocation of hunting privileges for the current hunting season plus 3 additional years. If the deer is antlered, for a first offense there is an additional 2 year suspension, and for a second offense and additional 7 year suspension. The hunter’s firearm, crossbow, or bow is also subject to forfeiture. The court will also potentially impose court costs and probation with conditions as well.
- Illegally taking an elk or moose also carries a mandatory jail sentence from 5 days to 90 days. Restitution is set at $5000 per animal. Trophy elk also carry additional restitution of $250 per point for 8 to 10 points, and $500 per point for 11 or more points. Antlered moose will lead to an additional $5000 of restitution. Revocation of hunting privileges is 15 years for a first offense, and lifetime for a second offense. The court will impose court costs and potentially a term of probation with conditions as well. There is potentially a forfeiture of the firearm/crossbow/bow.
- Illegally taking a bear carries the same mandatory jail sentence as described above, $3500 in restitution, and revocation of hunting privileges for at least 3 years. There is potentially a forfeiture of the firearm/crossbow/bow.
- Illegally taking owl, eagle hawk, wild turkey or waterfowl will lead to the same mandatory jail sentence as described above, restitution, 5 year revocation of hunting privileges, court costs, and potentially a term of probation with conditions. There is potentially a forfeiture of the firearm/crossbow/bow.
- Illegal use of artificial light with firearm, bow and arrow, or crossbow carries a maximum of 90 days in jail, a fine of between $100 and $500, loss of hunting privilege for the current and following year, and court costs, and potential probation with conditions.
- Carrying a firearm while under the influence of alcohol or drugs carries up to 93 days in jail, a $500 fine, court costs, and potential probation with conditions.
- If a person has multiple convictions – 3 within the preceding 5 years – there is a fine from $500 to $2000, and a mandatory minus 10 days in jail to a maximum of 180 days in jail.
There are other DNR violations that require experienced court representation. These offenses include (but are not limited to) the following: procuring a license under false pretenses; no license; improper tag/stamp; shining violation; baiting violation; transport loaded gun or strung bow in motor vehicle; illegal tree stand or blind; hunter safety zone/discharge firearm within 150 yards of an occupied dwelling; no hunter’s orange.
For any hunting or fishing violation it is extremely important to hire a lawyer with experience with these type of violations. In some instances the charge can be litigated or settled in a way to avoid or reduce these harsh penalties. Many hunters and fishers have called the law offices of Hilf & Hilf, PLC when faced with such a situation to receive the necessary legal representation for these types of charges.