Newspapers often report on high-profile crimes, such as murders. But recently the account of a different murder made the headlines in New Jersey and surrounding areas. A whale that had been shot was found on a beach in New Jersey in September. Investigators believe that someone had intentionally shot the whale in a specific way to prevent the whale from eating.
The whale soon died. And now investigators are searching for the person who shot the whale. If the individual is found, he or she could be facing federal criminal charges with a possible penalty that includes prison time and a $100,000 fine. Why?
Whales are protected by federal law. Since it looks like a poacher was involved, the Mammal Protection Act would be applicable.
In this particular instance, a special agent from the National Oceanographic and Oceanic Administration is handling the investigation as law enforcement continues to seek out the individual responsible. In fact, federal agents are offering a generous reward to anyone who has information regarding the shooter.
There is no information as to how investigators are going about finding the shooter, aside from asking the public to help. How would they be able to tell if the shooting was intentional? Is there a chance that someone could be falsely accused of this particular crime?
Being charged with a federal crime or any crime for that matter leads to serious consequences. Even if the accused is never convicted, his or her reputation can be permanently damaged. If a conviction does follow, the individual will not only have to serve the sentence, but will likely also deal with a criminal record. The impact on one's future can be great.
Source: NBC New York: "$2,500 Reward in Case of NJ Shot Whale," Oct. 6, 2011