You didn’t mean to do anything wrong. You weren’t even aware that you might be breaking the law the last time you went hunting. Just the same, there’s a citation from the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF) sitting in your mailbox.
Your buddy told you that they’ve been in your shoes before. They recommend that you plead “no contest” in front of the magistrate and says that the judge will probably cut you a break with nothing more than a suspended sentence or a period of probation. At worst, you may have to pay a fine and some court costs.
Are they right? Not exactly.
Any plea agreement you make can still cost you your hunting license
It is true that magistrates are often lenient about hunting license violations. The laws are confusing and complicated, to be certain. However, according to NMAC 126.96.36.199 (B), a guilty plea or plea of “nolo contendre” is the same as an adjudication of guilt. Even if your sentence is deferred or suspended or you’re merely assessed a fine, it is still treated like a conviction by NMDGF.
As such, you’ll be assessed “points” against your hunting license for each offense. At minimum, a single offense (like not having the right stamp for your license) will net you three points, while something like taking game outside the season because you forgot the date can net you 20 points. Since you may be facing more than one violation, those points can add up fast.
Just like with a driver’s license, when you accumulate too many points, you lose your hunting license — for three full years. That’s a pretty stiff penalty to pay for a simple mistake.
When you get a notice from NMDGF, get help
Our office works hard to protect the rights of hunters and fishing enthusiasts. If you’re facing a violation of New Mexico’s hunting laws, it’s wise to act fast. Please continue viewing our site to learn more or contact us directly.