Defending yourself against illegal dumping is not easy, especially when the charges have a criminal connotation. In many states, the prosecution does not even have to prove that you intended to break the law; it is enough that you broke it. If you are a contractor, you should be aware of the potential penalties, as well as the forms of defenses you can use.

Potential Penalties

Depending on several factors (such as amount and type of waste), your illegal dumping act may be a misdemeanor or a felony. This means that, if you are convicted, you may be penalized by being required to:

  • Pay a fine
  • Serve time in jail
  • Clean up the dumping site
  • Pay for any damages caused

In many cases, you may be faced with a combination of these penalties.

If you are accused of illegal dumping, you can defend yourself by claiming that:

  • The Dumping Regulations You Disobeyed Are Invalid

As you know, there are various local government agencies that regulate dumping of construction wastes. When coming up with these regulations, these agencies are required to follow their respective state's procedures. Unfortunately, this is not always the case because state laws are often complicated, and local enforcers may not be aware of them all.

When an agency adopts laws without adhering to the state's procedures, the regulations become invalid. If you can prove that the local regulations you contravened are invalid, then you have a good ground for having your case dismissed. Obviously, this is only possible if you only contravened the local regulations and not those of the parent state.

  • You Were Following a Governmental Representative's Directive

Another possible defense is claiming that you acted in good faith when following a government employee's advice, which turned out to be flawed. For example, suppose you have just expanded your operations to a new state, and since you aren't familiar with the laws, you contact the city's environmental authorities.

Now suppose you go ahead and dump your asbestos wastes on the site, and a local environmental lobby group accuses you of illegal dumping. You can defend yourself by explaining that you sought and followed the clarification offered by the authorities. Again, you may only succeed if you followed the advice in its entirety.

Environmental laws tend to be very complicated. What is more, they vary not only by state but also within local jurisdictions such as counties. This is not something you want to defend on your own, especially with the potential criminal charges. A criminal attorney, possibly with experience in environmental issues, is your best bet for defending yourself. For more information, contact a law firm such as Gevirtz & Born.