Oregon crabber faces charges for allegedly dumping mink carcasses
Any crime that has some element of danger to individuals or the public is likely to be classified as a felony by a legislature at some point. Most people think of certain acts that threaten or take life or property as felony crimes, but creating a public nuisance that has the potential to threaten human or animal health or the environment on a large scale can also become felonies.
An Oregon boat captain recently found out that certain forms of water pollution can bring felony charges. The captain is facing serious trouble after allegedly dumping some 5,000 pounds of decaying mink carcasses into the harbor at Brookings. The meat is often used as crab bait.
According to the Oregon State Police, the 48-year-old captain of a commercial crab boat discarded the remains on April 1 from a broken freezer after port staff complained about smells and liquids coming from the freezer and told the captain to immediately solve the problem.
The decomposing mink created an oily and smelly mess throughout the port's waters. Cleanup crews have only disposed of 2,400 pounds so far. The carcasses were discovered a half day after they were dumped, so wind and tides had pushed some of the remains close to the shore.
Water pollution is a felony under both state and federal laws. If the captain is convicted of first-degree water pollution, he could face 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Felonies have significantly higher fines and longer prison sentences than misdemeanors. To address the charges, a defendant should know all of the legal options available. With the right help, people can determine if the suspect's rights were violated at any point during the investigation, arrest, and incarceration and thus help establish a strong defense on the suspect's behalf.