Federal Criminal Lawyer Explains Offenses Involving Plants & Animals

Certain animals, plants, birds, and fish are provided with protections under the federal laws of the United States of America. Certain types of conduct, including abusive behaviors to animals and unauthorized hunting practices, are also prohibited by federal law.

Federal laws related to criminal conduct involving animals, birds, fish, and plants are found within 18 U.S. Code Chapter 3.

If you are found to have violated any of the laws within this code section, you could face serious penalties including fines, jail time, permanent loss of your ability to hunt, and other life-changing consequences.

You need to understand the nature of charges against you if you have been accused of violating federal laws related to animals, birds, fish, and plants. By understanding the crime you have been accused of, you can make informed choices regarding how to plead, what evidence to present to make your case, and what penalties you are potentially facing if convicted.

Federal criminal charges are very serious and you could end up spending a long time in federal prison if convicted of most offenses made illegal under federal law. You need to ensure you have an attorney who understands how to defend you in federal court and who is familiar with the plea bargaining process at the federal level.

LV Criminal Defense can help. Our federal criminal defense attorneys provide representation to clients in California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and surrounding locales when defendants are facing federal charges.

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Nick Wooldridge has a long track record of representing clients accused of serious federal and state crimes in Nevada.


We know the federal code inside and out, we understand how cases are investigated and presented at the federal level, and we will put our extensive knowledge to work for you to help you fight charges. To find out more about the ways in which our legal team can help you, give us a call today.

Federal Laws on Animals, Birds, Fish, and Plants

There are several different sections of 18 U.S. Code Chapter 3 that address different types of crimes in connection with animals, birds, fish, and plants. There are also two sections of Chapter 3 that have been repealed and that are no longer in effect.

The laws that remain enforceable within 18 U.S. Code Chapter 3 include the following:

  • 18 U.S. Code section 41, which deals with hunting, fishing, trapping, disturbing animals, or causing injuries on wildlife refuges. Under this section of the law, anyone who willfully harms or disturbs birds, fish, or wildlife of any kind within a wild life refuge can be charged and face a penalty including a fine and up to six months of imprisonment.
  • 18 U.S. Code section 42 defines crimes related to importing or shipping injurious mammals, birds, fish, or reptiles. The law makes clear it is illegal to bring in certain types of animals to the United States, including fruit bats, bighead carp of the species Hypophthalmichthys nobilis, and certain other listed animals. Penalties for violating the law can include imprisonment for up to six months and fines. Exceptions are made for bringing in dead natural history specimens for museums.
  • 18 U.S. Code section 43 addresses federal offenses related to force, threats, and violence involving animal enterprises. This includes prohibited conduct such as intentionally causing damage to property used by an animal enterprise or making threats against those involved in animal enterprises. Penalties vary depending upon the nature of the prohibited conduct. If there is no bodily injury, economic damage is minimal and threats did not create the fear of serious bodily injury or death, violating 18 U.S. Code section 43 can result in up to one-year imprisonment and a fine. With substantial economic damage or bodily injury, penalties could potentially include more than 20 years imprisonment and if someone is killed, the defendant could face life imprisonment.
  • 18 U.S. Code section 46 prohibits the transportation of water hyacinths and imposes a penalty including a fine and up to six months of imprisonment for knowingly delivering, receiving, transporting, bartering, selling, or exchanging water hyacinths.
  • 18 U.S. Code section 47 prohibits the use of an aircraft or a motor vehicle to hunt unbranded horses, mares, colts, or burros. The penalty is up to six months imprisonment. The statute also prohibits polluting a watering hole on public lands or ranges in order to trap, kill, wound, or maim horses, mares, colts, or burros. Again, the penalty is a maximum of six months of imprisonment.
  • 18 U.S. Code section 48 prohibits animal crush or animal torture videos in which any living non-human mammals are crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled, or subjected to serious bodily injury. Creating and distributing any such videos is unlawful and penalties include up to seven years of imprisonment.
  • 18 U.S. Code section 49 prohibits animal fighting and imposes a penalty of up to five years imprisonment for any violation of animal welfare laws related to animal fighting. Those who attend animal fights can be imprisoned under this statute for up to one year and those who cause someone under 16 to attend an animal fight can be imprisoned for up to three years for each violation.

The penalties for violating these laws can be very serious, including life imprisonment in some circumstances. It is imperative that defendants know what the nature of the specific offense is with which they have been charged and develop a sound plan for responding to charges with the goal of minimizing or avoiding serious penalties.

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Getting Help from a Federal Criminal Defense Attorney

A federal criminal defense attorney at LV Criminal Defense can provide you with representation if you have been accused of wrongdoing in connection with any crimes related to animals, fish, birds, or plants. Our legal defense team knows the laws in 18 U.S. Code Chapter 3 inside and out and we can work with you to get charges dropped, put together a strong defense, or negotiate a plea agreement.

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Address: 400 S, 7th Street #401, Las Vegas, NV 89101 United States, 400 S, 7th Street #401, 89101, US, $$$ | Tel: + 1 (702) 623-6362

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