Hunting tickets are an unfortunate part of reality. I’ve heard game wardens in Colorado say multiple times during my work with them, “if you hunt long enough, you’re going to end up breaking some rule one day.” What happens when you receive a hunting ticket is really up to you, but you do have options.
Whether your ticket is for multiple charges or just one charge, the process is the same. If the game warden hands you a ticket for a Colorado hunting violation, you can pay the officer in the field with a check or cash or take the ticket and send in a copy of the ticket and payment of the amount to the Court before your court date. You can also go to your court date and argue your case, or retain an attorney who will enter their appearance and fight your ticket on your behalf. There are drawbacks and benefits to each of these options.
If you pay your ticket either in the field or through the mail, you are pleading guilty to those charges. This is very important to understand. You will not have the opportunity to go back and fight those charges if you pay them and plead guilty. In addition, the points assessed on those charges will be assessed against your hunting and fishing privileges. You will have an opportunity to go to a hearing with the Colorado Parks and Wildlife commission to explain those offenses and points, but you could still lose your hunting and fishing privileges.
Non-resident hunters may be tempted to pay the fines and plead guilty instead of going to court, but if your license is suspended in Colorado, your license in your home state may also be suspended. Non-resident hunters from somewhere outside of Colorado may benefit from consulting a hunting attorney in Colorado to fight their case on their behalf so that they need not travel back to the state for court.
If you are charged with a hunting violation in Colorado, your best option is to consult with a hunting violation attorney before your court date and get a better idea of your options. Your attorney will enter his/her appearance on your case and speak directly to the prosecutor about your case. This includes getting all of the evidence in your case to review and assess whether or not the prosecutor can actually prove you committed any kind of violation. Your attorney can then argue your case with the State and find the best resolution for you.
Nate Gilbert, attorney in Colorado and Kansas, has defended wildlife and hunting violations in multiple states and knows the intricacies of hunting violation defense. A consultation with Nate can help you determine if you should just go ahead and pay your hunting ticket or if you need an attorney. Talking through the possible consequences and what you could be facing down the road will help you determine the best course of action so that a small hunting mistake doesn’t come back to haunt you.