While most of us think of environmental crimes as toxic waste dumps and oil spills, there are a variety of different charges that fall under the umbrella of environmental crime. From illegally trading endangered animals to unreported fishing and hunting, as far as the environment goes, there is a fine line between what’s considered civil and what’s considered criminal. One thing is for certain, if you’re facing criminal charges for any type of environmental crime, you need to speak with a defense attorney as soon as possible to get the ball rolling on your case.
Criminal Versus Civil Environmental Issues
It’s not uncommon to hear about people getting slapped with environmental criminal charges and having no idea why. Many of these charges might be better suited under a civil case involving negligence. Not everybody knows what they’re doing to the environment is either harmful or illegal, so it’s important for your lawyer to understand the differences between both civil and criminal environmental cases. Sure, there’s always the clear cut cases where criminal intent is easily demonstrated, but what about cases where business owners or private citizens aren’t even aware of that fact that what they were doing was illegal or harmful? Listed below are a few different types of environmental crimes.
Different Types of Environmental Crimes
- Illegally trading endangered wildlife species
- Smuggling ozone depleting substances
- Dumping hazardous waste
- Illegal, unreported or unregulated fishing or hunting
- Illegal logging operations
Not all hazardous spill cases are created equal. The severity of your charges will depend upon a number of different factors. Could a spill have been prevented? Was there negligence involved? Can the prosecution prove knowledge of the spill-potential? You and your lawyer can talk about the specific details and unique circumstances of your case to determine the best course. In many cases, hazardous spills are better off being handled in the civil just system than the criminal justice system.
Violating The Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act
The two major sets of laws to be familiar with are the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. Violating either of these can land you in hot water, so to speak. If you own a company that handles industrial waste or chemicals of any kind, it’s important to familiarize yourself with these regulations. In some cases, ignorance may not be a good enough defense in a court of law. If you’re facing charges associated with violating either the Clean Air Act or the Clean Water Act, you need to speak with an attorney who has environmental criminal defense experience as soon as possible.
Illegal dumping is a very common type of environmental crime. Properly disposing of chemicals, hazardous waste, medical supplies or any other potential environmental contaminant can be costly and complex. If you get caught illegally dumping, it can be an expense charge. Fines associated with illegal dumping can be hefty, so you definitely want to get a lawyer involved if your facing this type of environmental criminal charge.
Illegal Exploitation of Wildlife and Flora
The illegal exploitation of wildlife, flora or fauna can also be a huge problem. These types of charges can include the sale or interstate transport of endangered species. These crimes are typically federal, and you can expect to do time in a federal prison facility, if convicted. Even though these are apparent non-violent, seemingly victimless crimes, the federal government takes them very seriously.
Multiple Agency Investigation
In many cases, environmental crimes are investigated by multiple state and federal law enforcement agencies. Local authorities don’t typically handle these crimes, so you could be dealing with a long and in-depth investigative process. Your lawyer can stay on top of any official investigative developments from a variety of different agencies and keep you abreast of any news. It takes time for agencies to build cases involving environmental crimes, so let a professional handle your defense.
When to Call a Defense Attorney in Jackson
After being charged with any type of environmental crime, it’s a good idea to speak with a lawyer about your defense. Depending upon the severity and the unique circumstances of your case, you could be facing felony charges that hold a minimum of one year in prison or longer. If convicted, you could also be facing expensive fines associated with your charges.
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