My question is this, What constitutes possession of fish outside of size limits under the law?
Here's the scenario: I went fishing with my wife and a friend on his boat the other evening. During the course of the evening, I caught several seatrout and redfish that were plainly too small and released them. My wife caught a big bull red that I measured at 27 inches, and it went into the live well. My friend caught a redfish that he measured using the pinch-tail method as a smidge over 18 inches. It, too, went into the live well.
On the way back to the the dock we were stopped by the Sheriff's Office marine unit, and they measured the fish. They said the larger fish was 29 inches, and the smaller was 17 and 7/8 inches. When asked, both my friend and my wife admitted to catching their fish which the Sheriff's Deputy found to be outside of regulation size. We all had valid fishing licenses.
I caught neither of these fish, nor did I own or operate the boat from which we were fishing. Yet somehow, I am the only one who got a ticket for possession of fish that were outside of the size limits.
So my question is this, what constitutes possession of these fish under the law?
I have read Florida Statutes section 379 through twice now. There is no definition of what constitutes possession of wildlife in the wildlife laws.
Florida defines three types of possession throughout it's laws, of which two are defined in the criminal statutes, and the other in the property statutes. They are Actual Possession, Constructive Possession, and Joint Possession.
- "Actual" possession means that a) the thing is in your hand or on your
person; OR b) the thing is in a container in your hand or on your person; OR
c) the thing is within ready reach and is under your
control. Mere proximity to a thing is insufficient to establish actual
- "Constructive" possession, means that the thing is in a place over which
you have sole control; OR is in a place where you have hidden it. The courts have repeatedly decided In order to prove
constructive possession the State must prove that: a) you had Actual Control
over the thing before it was sequestered; AND b) that you knew that the thing was there.
- "Joint" possession is where
2 or more people agree to exercise and share control over the same article. In the case of
"joint" possession each of the persons is considered to be in
possession of the same article and all can be charged and prosecuted. In the case of "Joint" control, the state must prove that there is an actual agreement in place, and the circumstances are not the result of each person thinking that either they or another party is in "Actual" or "Constructive" control.
What constitutes possession of fish outside of size limits under the law?