Environmental Lawyer Ottawa • Environmental Lawyer Ontario • Environmental Lawyer Toronto

What are Environmental & Hunting/Fishing Offences?

Anything to do with soil, water, air, or the resources or animals, plants, fish and birds in those environments, is captured by these kinds of offences. While hunting and fishing rules were first created thousands of years ago, more sophisticated environmental regulation remains a relatively new thing. These offences are the creation of social policy choices, and often focus on numbers (you can take only this many fish), or type (you can put this into the water, but not that). 

Why Fight Environmental & Hunting/Fishing Charges?

These charges increasingly carry not only stiff financial penalties upon conviction, but also the prospect of imprisonment for more serious offences, or where there have been past convictions. And because of the complexity of the way many of these regulations are structured, it's easy to be accused of something that isn't really an offence. 

How to Fight Environmental, Natural Resources & Hunting/Fishing Charges: Top 3 Winning Trial Defences

1. The prosecution has insufficient evidence to link the facts to an offence to an accused

Mere suspicion is not a standard upon which one can charge, much less convict. But sometimes charges of this nature get laid because of suspicion, and nothing more. So a moose gut pile is found, and it's assumed that the person in the neighbourhood with an ATV and rifle must have shot it. Or a tree is cut down, and it's assumed the person with the nearest cabin, who has freshly stacked wood in his yard, must have cut it. Or chemicals and fish killed are found in a river, and it's assumed the farmer farming the land immediately upstream, and who recently applied pesticides, must be responsible for them. 

2. The accused has government permission to conduct the activity claimed to be illegal

You might have a licence or a permit to do exactly what you're accused of doing. But the government claims otherwise. You might need to fight out in court the correct legal interpretation to be given to the licence or permit for what kind of activity it authorizes. 

3. You have an Indigenous right to engage in the activity that led to the charge

The Supreme Court of Canada has specified that Indigenous rights are collective rights exercisable by individuals. This means that you can't just go off by yourself to hunt or fish without any support of your Indigenous community. But if your community has authorized the activity - hunting, fishing, timber harvesting - and you're simply following its authorization, then you might have a defence. 

Why Retain the Firm for Defence on Environmental Charges?

The firm’s Managing Lawyer Gordon S. Campbell served an a Federal Crown Prosecutor of Environmental Offences with the Department of Justice Canada, where he worked with and taught courses to investigators from Environmental Canada, Fisheries & Oceans Canada, Parks Canada, Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. His The Investigator’s Legal Handbook series of books have a focus on the law of regulatory offences, including those involving the environment. The firm has extensive experience working with expert witnesses who may be able to counter prosecution scientific evidence. The firm will craft effective, custom environmental offence defence strategies for each client, including seeking out the greatest degree of disclosure, attempting to negotiate a fair resolution with the prosecution and courts, and firmly advocating for each client at trial and on appeal.