Can Harris County Prosecute for Boating While Intoxicated off the LaPorte Coast?

The simple answer is, they can try.  Jurisdiction in Harris County criminal cases is not normally an issue, however, there is more to that story.

A few months ago, LaPorte Police Officers arrested a Harris County citizen for Boating While Intoxicated.  Client was boating in the waters of Galveston Bay adjacent to LaPorte, Texas.  It should be noted that LaPorte is wholly within Harris County.  LaPorte police officers flagged the defendant down and ordered him to shore, ultimately arresting him for Boating While Intoxicated.  They called the Harris County District Attorney's office and they accepted the BWI charge.

During the course of our representation, Client informed us that the portion of Galveston Bay adjacent to LaPorte where the "boating" took place is actually a part of Chambers County, not Harris County.  After bringing this to the prosecutor's attention. he contacted a "higher up" at LaPorte PD to verify - sure enough, client was in Chambers County at the time of the "boating."

Apparently the LaPorte PD and Chambers County officers have an "Agreement" that it is OK for LaPorte to enforce the law in the waters of Chambers County.  Unfortunately for the LaPorte PD, they did not consult Harris County defense attorneys prior to entering this "Agreement" to see if we were OK with it.

Harris County does not have jurisdiction to hear cases that occur in other counties.  However, it is up to the accused to bring this to the attention of the court.

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