Posted by Joshua on May 22, 2006 at 18:16:19:|
I accompanied my Friend Dave to the Malibu courthouse last week so he could request "Traffic School" for his little speeding ticket, and I got a real eye opening experience.
It seems this Malibu Courthouse deals with all kind of offenses from traffic violations all the way to domestic abusers, and everything in between. One of the areas they handle is Department of Fish and Game Violations. Since I have been a certified diver for a number of years, I thought I would stick around to see these Violators get what they deserved.
I quickly learned how the court worked. Your name is called and when you come before the judge, you plead Guilty or Not Guilty. If you Plead Not Guilty you are given a date for a trial. If you plead Guilty, you are asessed a fine, and additionally you get to pay a court cost which was $400.00 for most cases and higher if you had a Bench Warrent issued previously for not showing to your Court date.
The first case was a guy who had been caught with one Lobster deemed short by the Game Warden. Even though he swore that his guage(that is available in every Dive Shop around) touched both the front and back of the Lobster's carapace, because the Wardens guage said it was short, the Judge ruled it short. By the way, no Wardens are present at this stage of the game.
Now came the good part! The Judge who was a very attractive female, and who shared that she was also a diver, gave a long speech about how DFG violations were very serious, because the resources are VERY RARE, especially Lobsters, and how we need to do everything to protect the Resources for the future, BLAH, BLAH BLAH, etc. And that is why the fines are also so STEEP.
And so, referring to her book of fines, she fined him ......
Now remember, I have been diving for a while now. In my time I have heard the stories of Divers being fined from $500/Lobster to $3000/Lobster and having their gear confiscted, and never being able to fish again and being shot on the spot, etc. So I was ready for this "LOBSTER VIOLATER" to be punished to the farthest extent of the Law! His fine was ............ $100.00. Now add the Court Fee and total cost was $500.00 It was also deemed an infraction, so no "RECORD" will be kept of the violation. And you can get up to 6 months to pay.
Now you might think this was a lighter fine, because the judge felt sorry for him. But no, the standard fine was $100.00 per infraction, and an additional $20.00 per Lobster. One guy was caught with 13 Lobsters (6 over the Limit) and two of those were short. He was allowed to keep the 7 largest Lobsters, and in court was fined $400 court costs, $100.00 infraction fee, and $80.00 for the 6 illegal Lobsters; Total Fine $580.00
No wonder Poachers aren't afraid of getting caught.
Does anyone else find this diappointing?