Understanding fish and game laws in South Carolina

South Carolina is a sportsman’s paradise. With an abundance of fish, game and recreational opportunities, people who enjoy the outdoors can thrive in this state. While hunting and fishing are enjoyable and often relaxing pursuits, it is important to know and to follow all South Carolina fish and game laws and regulations in order to avoid potential criminal prosecution.

In South Carolina, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is responsible for the investigation and prosecution of fish and game related offenses. Generally, Title 50 of the S.C. Code of Laws covers fish and game regulations. The offenses that DNR often encounters and enforces range from trespassing to hunting and fishing without a license and even more serious crimes such as negligent use of a firearm resulting in death.

Hunters and fishermen in South Carolina are required to have a license if they are over 16 years old. Even those 16 and under are required to have a license if they are engaged in commercial fishing activities. Also, hunters born after June 30, 1979 are required to complete a Hunter Education Course before they can legally hunt in South Carolina.

Our state uses a point system similar to a driver’s license with regard to hunting and fishing violations. Each violation of the fish and game code is tied to a certain number of points and when a license holder reaches 18 points, their hunting or fishing license will be suspended for one year. Some common violations include:

  • Hunting or fishing without a license in possession (6 points)
  • Trespassing to hunt, fish, or trap (14 points)
  • Hunting over bait (8 points)
  • Illegal night hunting (8 points)

As you can see, the points can add up quickly if a hunter or fisherman is unaware of the law or knowingly violates it. Some violations such as “trespassing to hunt waterfowl” and “shooting wild turkeys over bait” are 18-point violations and carry automatic 1-year suspensions.

Finally, in addition to a suspension of license privileges, violations of the state’s game laws can generally result in fines ranging from $25-$200 and up to 30 days in jail. For certain violations, the fines can greatly exceed $200 and may even result in a confiscation of a weapon or vehicle used to commit the offense.

Fish and game laws in South Carolina can be overwhelming to a newcomer but it is important to read, know and understand the laws regarding any activity that you may find yourself interested in. A thorough understanding is important not only to help preserve our state’s natural resources, but also to protect yourself from prosecution of a violation. If you or someone you know is charged with a violation, please give one of the attorneys at Harrison White, P.C. a call. We have attorneys who are avid outdoorsmen with extensive criminal defense experience and they are ready to help you today.

Blog post by Michael Gault. Click here to learn more about Michael.

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