What to Do If You’ve Been Arrested or Charged With a Crime in the Grand Canyon

On Behalf of The Kaiser Law Group

The vast majority of crimes committed in Arizona fall under the jurisdiction of the state. However, if a crime is committed in a national park, like Grand Canyon National Park, the defendant will have their charges brought and handled in the United States District Court rather than in the local court system. If you committed a crime while in Grand Canyon National Park, you may be wondering what to do if you’ve been arrested or charged with a crime in Grand Canyon.

Even if you are familiar with the state court system, federal courts have their own unique procedures and penalties. You can protect your rights by hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands federal law and how to have your charges lowered or possibly dropped if the facts of your situation call for it.

National Park Service

The National Park Service is the primary group tasked with providing law enforcement-type services for the federal park system. Rangers have many responsibilities, such as preventing fires and protecting park grounds from damage or vandalism. They are also responsible for keeping the public safe and secure. If you are arrested by a Ranger for committing a crime on federal land, you will be prosecuted in federal court.

Initial Appearance and Negotiated Settlement

Regardless of your current location, you will be required to travel to a federal court to make your initial appearance in person. A judge will determine the date and location of the court hearing. It is advisable to have your lawyer present at this appearance, as they will have a thorough knowledge of federal court procedures.

You have the right to a trial in federal criminal court; however, most cases are settled through a plea bargain process. If the defendant agrees to an offer made by a federal prosecutor, the case will be closed and the defendant will be required to fulfill the terms of the agreement.

When deciding whether to accept a settlement offer, wait, or go to trial, you can rely on the advice of your defense attorney. In federal court, misdemeanor trials are delivered by a judge (bench trial), while felony cases offer the opportunity for a jury trial. Your Grand Canyon defense attorney will research the facts of your case and help you understand the options available to you in your current circumstance.

Your lawyer can describe the possible outcomes of your case, possible defenses you can argue, and potential pretrial motions that could bolster your case. That way, you can make an informed decision on the right remedy for resolving your criminal case.

Common Grand Canyon Criminal Charges

State parks are a popular vacation destination, and people naturally want to enjoy their time away from work. Federal laws prohibit driving while intoxicated, meaning that if you are caught driving through Grand Canyon National Park while intoxicated, you could face a federal misdemeanor charge for DUI. As with state laws, federal criminal laws allow for jail time, fines, and the possibility of losing your driving privileges, even if you are visiting from out of state.

Your federal DUI charge will likely start after you are pulled over and given a field sobriety test by a park ranger. The standardized test will either be issued using a breath test or a blood draw. If the ranger believes you are intoxicated, you will be given a citation that is handled through a centralized processing system.

Once your citation is processed, you will receive a notice to appear. With the help of an attorney, you can contest the citation. Park rangers are required to abide by Fifth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizures. If any evidence was obtained unlawfully or in violation of your constitutional rights, the evidence may become inadmissible.

Defenses against a DUI are similar to defenses used in state court. If the federal government does not have lawfully obtained evidence that shows you committed a crime beyond a reasonable doubt, your lawyer can use this lack of evidence to argue for a lower criminal charge or dropped charges.

Possession of illicit drugs is another common crime in Grand Canyon National Park. If you are found in possession of a small amount of marijuana and have no criminal history, you will likely not have to serve jail time. Most first-time offenders are able to settle cases with favorable terms that could include probation and small fines.


Q: What Court Would Have Jurisdiction Over the Case If a Felony Crime Happened in the Grand Canyon?

A: Any crime that was committed on federal land is handled through federal courts. The United States District Court has a location within Grand Canyon Park. Many systems and procedures of federal courts have some similarities to state courts, although the penalties for convictions are different. You will have to appear before a federal court judge for an initial appearance and possibly for multiple subsequent hearings before your case settles.

Q: What Is the Jurisdiction of the Grand Canyon?

A: As a federal park, the entirety of the Grand Canyon National Park falls under federal jurisdiction. This means that your criminal case will not be handled at the state level. Since federal laws and regulations are unique, it is advisable to hire a defense attorney to represent you in court. The Kaiser Law Group has experience representing clients in federal court.

Q: What Is a Formal Charge of Criminal Action by a Grand Jury?

A: A formal charge of criminal action is also called an indictment. This occurs when a grand jury determines there are sufficient grounds to officially charge the defendant with the crime. In most cases, this means a felony charge. Once indicted, the defendant is formally charged with a crime and begins the process of defending themselves against the charges.

Q: Are My Rights Protected in Federal Court?

A: You have the same rights in federal court as you do at the state level. These rights include the right not to self-incriminate, the right to an attorney, and protections against unlawful searches and seizures. If a park ranger violates even one of your constitutional rights, it could weaken the federal government’s case against you and possibly lead to your charges being dropped.

Schedule Your Grand Canyon Criminal Defense Consultation Today

Being arrested for a crime and facing the prospect of a federal criminal conviction can be an unsettling and stressful ordeal. Let the lawyers at the Kaiser Law Group provide a semblance of relief during difficult times by investigating your case and protecting your rights.

With the right legal strategy, you can reduce or eliminate your charges. We have helped many clients receive favorable settlements following a criminal charge in federal court. Schedule your Grand Canyon criminal defense consultation by contacting our office today.

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