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3 Louisiana men accused of violating federal wildlife laws

Louisiana has long enjoyed a reputation as a "sportsman's paradise," in the words of the old license plate motto. However, hunting is still a heavily regulated activity in Louisiana and the rest of the nation, and those who forget this fact can find themselves on the wrong end of federal charges.

Recently, three Louisiana men were charged with 13 counts of violating the federal Lacey Act, after prosecutors said they imported live white-tailed deer into neighboring Mississippi. That state has its own hunting laws, which prohibit the importation of white-tailed deer, in the interest of reducing the spread of disease. What's more, The federal Lacey Act makes it a federal crime for anyone to import wildlife when doing so violates the laws of any state.

According to prosecutors, the three defendants who operated wildlife enclosures in Mississippi conspired to import the deer for the purposes of breeding them and making them available for hunting. If convicted, they could face up to five years in federal prison and fines of up to $250,000 on each count. A company owned by two of the defendants faces a fine of up to $500,000.

The penalties that go with conviction on federal crimes can be severe, even on relatively minor misdeeds. What's more, federal prosecutors have tremendous resources at the disposal when they seek a conviction. In some cases, federal prosecutors can also work with state agencies in investigating the circumstances surrounding an alleged crime and prosecuting those who are accused of committing it.

With so much at stake, it's important for Louisiana residents accused of federal crimes to have the strongest, most effective defense strategy they can possibly create. Doing so may minimize the damage that comes with federal charges.

Source: WJTV, "Three Louisiana Residents Charged With Federal Lacey Act Violations," Feb. 12, 2014

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