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How are environmental crimes categorized in California?

On Behalf of | Nov 10, 2023 | Environmental Law

The United States has federal and local environmental laws, allowing the relevant enforcement entity to receive and address violations. These policies categorize offenses based on their type, severity and receiving office. California also has a specific classification system that considers local offices and their jurisdictions, such as city and county-wide agencies.

To better understand how the authorities address these crimes, it is best to know the following categorizations according to the violation’s details:

  • Federal – the United States Environmental Agency receives reports on environmental crimes involving illegal discharge, storage, treatment and disposal of toxic substances into bodies of water.
  • State – California has various state-level agencies addressing environmental offenses. These violations include air pollution, oil spills, toxic exposure at the workplace and other forms of pollution. These cases often go to relevant state agencies, such as the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) Bureau of Investigation, and other offices that monitor resource safety and its impact on significant industries, such as agriculture and transportation.
  • County – Agencies with county-wide authority often receive environmental violations involving sewer systems and industrial waste control. Local sanitation districts or the Department of Public Works can receive and address these offenses.
  • City – Illegal substance dumping and other toxic material mishandling incidents can fall under city-level agencies, such as the watershed or environmental protection division.

Fortunately, these agencies could have online pages to provide more information about what cases they receive and manage.

Knowing the appropriate authority on environmental crimes

Aside from receiving reports, these offices might also be in charge if someone else makes an offense allegation against an individual or business.

Knowing these offices and how they function could help ensure compliance or avoid environmental issues. Learning these details could also make it easier to navigate procedures when seeking legal counsel.