The United States Constitution grants what is called Original Jurisdiction to the federal courts for Admiralty Law issues. That means, that the federal courts are a starting point for any of these issues. However, in the US, there is something called the saving the suitors act which would allow cases to be heard in either state or federal court. If someone files their case in state court under 28 USC §1333, then although they filed it in state court, federal law will still apply. Generally one party will prefer one court over the other and will use it in a way that is advantageous to their case. Admiralty Law is very complicated and takes years to know all of the procedures and exactly how the system works.

Shipping and Transporting Law

Common Admiralty Law Situations

Admiralty law, also known as ship law is a portion of the law that governs offenses committed out at sea. It is proportioned into both criminal and civil law. The civil portion would deal with navigation of certain areas, usage of a pier, salvaging and the transportation of goods. Every area generally has its own jurisdiction of law but admiralty law is known by its distinct international law that has been built over the years and now is still in practice today.

Salvage and Treasure

Salvage and Treasure is another common situation that comes up in regards to Admiralty Law. When the owner of a boat sends someone out to sea to look for salvage, they usually have a general agreement with that individual where the person working on the boat gets to keep some of the money from the goods recovered. However the situation sometimes comes up where someone on the boat finds treasure and there is a lot of money at stake. In this type of situation the dispute would have to be litigated and much of that dispute would be litigated under the principles of admiralty law.

Injuries to Cruise Passengers

Someone who is injured on a cruise ship would certainly fall under at least an initial branch of Admiralty law because they have been injured at sea. The statute of limitations is usually around three years on a bodily injury but can be limited due to the contract signed with the vendor. A lot of ships will put on their ticket that as a contract to boarding the ship, one agrees to make a claim within less than a year of any injury that may have occurred. Most cruise ships will put on the ticket that any type of dispute may be litigated in a certain state where either their company is based or the laws are most favorable to them.


There have been situations where someone has committed a crime at sea. You see it in the movies and you also hear about it in real life situations. Often, people will take the body out to sea because they believe it will not be found there. This type of situation is certainly a case involving criminal law. In the United States, this type of thing would be either tried under federal law or under the law of the state where the crime was committed. Lets take California for example.

In California there could be the coast guard patrolling the waters or in rare situations there could be a police boat. A common situation is boating under the influence, which is a very serious criminal law offense. If you get pulled over by either the coast guard or the local police department either one can and will breathalyze you and can file criminal charges accordingly.

Ozols Law Firm is a criminal defense firm in San Diego, which practices throughout California. They are the experts in dealing with situations like this and they have more information if you encounter a criminal law violation while at sea. Visit for more information.