Virginia Hunting, fishing, and Trapping License Laws
Virginia law requires hunters, fishermen, and trappers to have, carry and show their license while they are out hunting, fishing, or trapping. Violating any of these three offenses is a criminal offense and they go on your criminal record. However, these are non-jailable criminal offenses (similar to drunken in public). This means that you cannot be put in jail for hunting or fishing or trapping without a license you can only be fined up to $250 or $500 depending on the offense.
Not Having a License is a Criminal Offense
Fishing, hunting, or trapping without a license is a class 3 misdemeanor, punishable by up to $500 in fines. Often these are pre-payable offenses with fines less than $500. However, if you prepay you are pleading guilty to a criminal offense and it cannot be erased from your record. If you have security clearance, a conviction may affect your employment.
Some people will say that if you buy a license after you get ticketed that you can show the judge and they will dismiss the charge. The law specifically instructs judges not to do this, but some do anyway. However, there are plenty of judges who do not dismiss these charges for subsequently purchasing a license.
Failure to have your license on you when hunting, fishing, or trapping is also a criminal offense though the maximum fine is $250, not $500. Subsequently bringing your license to the court in order to get the case dismissed is not barred by the law but it is also not a defense to this crime. However, the law in this regard is kind of strange.
There is one law that says you must carry a license with you if you have one and another law that says you must show the license to an officer if he asks to see your license and you have it with you. In order to be guilty of not carrying your license with you, the officer must technically prove that you have a license. To prove that you are guilty of not showing your license the officer must prove that you have your license on you.
So, if a person is approached by a law enforcement officer while hunting fishing, or trapping and the outdoors many do not tell the officer whether or not he has a license or has it on him. The officer cannot prove which one of these three crimes the defendant committed without physically searching them or doing some research. It is a strangely written series of laws.
§ 29.1-335. Hunting, trapping, or fishing without a license
No person shall hunt, trap, or fish without having obtained a license when such a license is required. For the purposes of this article, the term “license” shall include any temporary license issued by a clerk or agent to a buyer and authorized to be used in a manner prescribed by the Director. Any person who violates this section shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor and shall pay to the clerk a fee equal to the cost of the required license to be paid into the state treasury and credited to the game protection fund.
The purchase of a license subsequent to an arrest or notice of summons to appear in court for hunting, trapping, or fishing without a license shall not relieve the person from the penalties specified in this section.
§ 29.1-336. Carrying licenses and certificates; penalty
A. Every person who is issued hunting, trapping, or fishing license shall carry the license on his person while hunting, trapping, or fishing. Persons who have been issued such licenses and fail to carry them when required shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor.
B. Any person who is 16 years of age or older and who is (i) required to present a certificate of completion in hunter education to obtain a hunting license pursuant to § 29.1-300.1, and (ii) issued a hunting license by telephone, the Internet, or other electronic or computerized means, shall also carry such certificate on his person while hunting.
C. Any person who is 12 years of age through 15 years of age, and is issued a hunting license by telephone, the Internet, or other electronic or computerized means, shall carry his certificate of completion in hunter education on his person while hunting, unless he is accompanied and directly supervised by an adult who has, on his person, a valid Virginia hunting license and certificate if required under subsection B.
§ 29.1-337. Displaying license upon request
A. Every person who is issued a hunting, trapping, or fishing license and is carrying such a license when hunting, trapping or fishing shall present it immediately upon demand of any officer whose duty it is to enforce the game and inland fish laws. Refusing to exhibit the license upon demand of any conservation police officer or another officer shall be a Class 3 misdemeanor.
B. In accordance with § 18.2-133, the hunting, trapping, or fishing license shall also be shown upon the demand of any owner or lessee, or of any employee or representative of such owner or lessee, upon whose lands or waters the person may be hunting, fishing or trapping.
C. The Director may supply buttons or license holders and require the license or button to be displayed in a manner he may determine.