Wildlife, Fish, and Plants: Violations of the Lacey Act in Customs Law


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The Lacey Act was passed in 1900 and was the first federal law to protect wildlife. This intersection of conservation and Customs Law makes it illegal to transfer, move, or trade in certain wildlife, fish, and plants. Violations of the Lacey Act can lead to severe civil and criminal penalties.

When someone has attempted to traffic in illegal wildlife, he or she has violated the Lacey Act. It was in 2008 that plant and products of plants were included through an amendment in this Act. This includes timber, paper and related items that are moved from one location to another illegally. This is legislation that affects wood products, and it is illegal to transfer or sell them without pre-approved authorization. The ban on these activities could lead to severe penalties for those involved in the violations. With the amendment, animals and plants are included and cannot be part of business arrangements,
When plants or plant products are harvested that violate this Act, the perpetrator is subjected to criminal charges. He or she may face severe penalties to include international prison sentences or other reparations based on the country. The harvesting is a violation of the law unless permission has been granted to the individual involved in these activities. To be part of the amendment to the Act, the scientific name, monetary value, amount in quantity and country of origin for many products must be declared. Then, it is possible to dole out penalties based on the related violations incurred.

The Violations of the Lacey Act

When someone has violated the Lacey Act, the case involves strict liability and this affects the accused through factors of actual legality. No third-party claims or verification of manipulating the law are permitted in these claims that attempt to prove that the activity is legal under the Act. Violators generally face criminal and civil sanctions when discovered to have taken part in illegal trafficking of wildlife, plant and plant products that have not been permitted. The sanctions and penalties apply even if the individual had no knowledge he or she was violating the Act through illegally harvested products or plants.
Violations of the Lacey Act incur severe penalties depending on how much knowledge the perpetrator had of the product during or before the activity. If the person did know he or she was trading or harvesting illegal materials, these penalties are worse than if he or she had no knowledge. If the accused attempted to discover if the plants or products were legal and did everything in his or her power to research the matter, the penalties could be lessened. This is one factor that weighs heavily the courtroom when facing these charges. International processes are often imposed, and someone from a country unfamiliar with the location may be in unknown territory.

Enforcement and Legal Help

Successful enforcement for violations is long standing with the Lacey Act against wildlife offenses and these statutes. This is through over a century of adhering to provisions for wildlife game and, with the amended conditions, plants and plant products. While the changes are fresh, only a few cases were enforced, and these were directed at United States manufacture or guitars and a small business. Taking further strides into these matters, it is possible to see an increase in enforcement and penalties when further crimes have been discovered. Customs agents will need to observe tourists and company agents more closely. Then, these penalties may be seen in greater numbers over time.

The legal problems these violations cause may require the use of a legal representative to support someone that may not have any knowledge of what occurred. The violations may require clarification and for the country to acknowledge where certain boundaries are for legal and illegal activities. Even with no knowledge leading to charges, the perpetrator still needs an awareness of what is considered out of bounds. With local rules and laws explained before touring facilities and traveling the wilderness, it is possible to increase knowledge of what is off limits, prohibited and not permitted.

Lawyers in Lacey Act Violations

To prevent possible severe penalties in these activities, it is necessary to hire a lawyer to fight on behalf of the accused. Through evidence and an understanding of the offenses, it may be possible to argue down the penalties through a lack of knowledge of the illegal acts committed. Then, the rights of the client are protected and the law is served.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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