ENVIRONMENTAL & HUNTING/FISHING CHARGE DEFENCE LAWYER
Environmental Lawyer Ottawa • 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.