The Colorado River spans Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and California, as well as Mexico. Determining exactly which state a person is in while he is on the Colorado River can sometimes be difficult. This problem was making it hard for law enforcement to fight crime on the river, because authorities could face difficulties determining if wrongdoing was actually going on within their own state borders.
When boaters and other individuals engage in illegal behavior while offshore in the Colorado River, authorities need to be able to take action to maintain law and order. To help address confusion over what state had authority, and to ensure that law enforcement could do their jobs effectively, the Interstate Compact for Jurisdiction on the Colorado River was created and signed into law in Nevada and in other states adjacent to the River.
Anyone who is arrested on the Colorado River, or who faces legal action on the part of law enforcement, needs to be aware of the impact of the Interstate Compact. LV Criminal Defense helps clients facing criminal charges associated with conduct on the Colorado River.
Our firm understands the importance of studying state laws of criminal procedure to help clients make smart choices when it comes to how their case is handled. Our in-depth understanding of the Interstate Compact for Jurisdiction on the Colorado River allows us to help you develop the strongest strategies for dealing with criminal charges in Nevada or surrounding states. Call today to schedule your consultation and learn more about how our firm can provide representation to you.
What is the Interstate Compact for Jurisdiction on the Colorado River?
The Interstate Compact for Jurisdiction on the Colorado River is an agreement between states bordering the river. The agreement gives law enforcement from any participating states the authority to police conduct anywhere on the Colorado River.
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This means that authorities in Nevada don’t need to make sure that someone who is breaking law is actually in the section of the river that runs through Nevada. Authorities who are out patrolling the river can stop the person who is potentially engaged in illegal activity, even if that person is in the waters of an adjacent state. If it is determined laws were broken, the case can be referred for prosecution by the law enforcement officer to the local state.
Nevada codified the enactment of the compact in N.R.S. 171.078, which is a statute found within Title 14 of Nevada law. Title 14 is focused on defining rules for criminal procedural matters. In Arizona, the enactment of the compact is codified in Arizona Code Section 37-620.11. In California, Penal Code Sections 853.1 and 853.2 address the enactment of the compact within the state. Each participating state had to enact the Compact into law in order for the state to be bound by its provisions.
Once the states had codified the enactment, each state was given concurrent jurisdiction over criminal acts committed on the Colorado River- as long as those acts were illegal in all involved states. In other words, since every state criminalizes intoxicated boating, drunk boating could lead to criminal action in Nevada, California, Colorado, or Arizona.
The law did not, however, change the rules in any one individual state in terms of what behaviors were legal or illegal. If someone is engaged in legal conduct in Colorado while on the Colorado River, law enforcement from Nevada or Utah could not arrest that individual as long as the individual stayed in Colorado- even if the conduct was illegal in Nevada. As soon as the individual crossed the line into another jurisdiction, however, he could be arrested for the behavior if it was unlawful in his new location.
What Does the Interstate Compact for Jurisdiction on the Colorado River Mean for Defendants?
When I initially met with Mr. Wooldridge, he took the opportunity to sit and go over my problem with me. He described details in my case which he found disturbing and explained why he I should have him on my side.
Defendants need to be aware that the Interstate Compact for Jurisdiction on the Colorado River can profoundly affect their rights.
While N.R.S. 171.078 addresses the enactment of the compact, N.R.S. 171.079 contained the actual details about the agreement. The text of the Compact in N.R.S. 181.079 makes clear that when conduct is prohibited by two adjoining party states, law enforcement from either state can arrest the individual engaged in the illegal behavior. Not only that, but local authorities can also prosecute and jail the offender.
As a practical matter, this means there may be more law enforcement watching for signs of criminal acts on the Colorado River since there are multiple states seeking to enforce the law in this location.
Defendants may also find themselves facing the prospect of a criminal trial in a state other than their home state, and facing the prospect of being jailed in a different location from where they live. This is inconvenient and can leave defendants unsure of what their options are as they are forced to go to court in a particular jurisdiction just because they happened to be in a specific state while on the Colorado River.
How Can a Nevada Defense Lawyer Help Clients Accused of Crimes on the Colorado River?
At LV Criminal Defense, our legal team has extensively focused on representing clients in cases where there is concurrent jurisdiction. We understand the Interstate Compact for Jurisdiction on the Colorado River and we can help fight hard for clients to get charges dropped if there were any problems or breaches in the way in which law enforcement conducted its investigation and obtained evidence. We also provide assistance throughout the trial process both to Nevada residents and to individuals from other jurisdictions who were arrested while engaged in allegedly unlawful behavior on the Colorado River.
When you live elsewhere, coming back to Nevada can be a significant hardship. We will resolve your case as quickly as we can, while remaining effective and aiming to prevent conviction or minimize penalties. To learn more about the help that our Las Vegas defense attorneys can offer, contact LV Criminal Defense now.