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Can a Police Officer Arrest Me Outside of Their Jurisdiction?

Posted on July 7, 2021 in Defense Strategies

An officer’s conduct during an arrest is not beyond scrutiny in a criminal case. If the officer did something wrong, such as violating a suspect’s civil rights, it can make the arrest invalid – potentially leading to case dismissal. A potential argument against a police officer in Scottsdale is that he or she made the arrest outside of the officer’s jurisdiction. Whether or not this defense is valid depends on the situation.

The Answer: It Depends

For the most part, an officer must remain in his or her territorial jurisdiction. However, there are exceptions where an arrest is allowed outside of an officer’s county. There are two types of arrests: warranted and warrantless. If a police officer has a warrant from a judge, he or she has the authority to arrest a suspect in any jurisdiction, county or geographic territory. Without a warrant, however, the officer may only make an arrest within his or her jurisdiction, with some exceptions.

One of the exceptions is called fresh pursuit. This exception states that if a suspect is fleeing the jurisdiction of a pursuing law enforcement officer, the officer may still proceed to arrest the suspect, even if the pursuit takes the officer outside of his or her territory. However, most states only allow the fresh pursuit exception if the suspect being pursued is accused of committing a felony crime.

There is also an exception for a citizen’s arrest. If an officer witnesses a crime committed outside of his or her territorial jurisdiction, the officer may still make a citizen’s arrest. A citizen’s arrest does not use the power of law enforcement. In this scenario, the officer would need to follow the state’s rules for citizen’s arrests. For example, many states limit the ability to make a citizen’s arrest only to misdemeanor and felony crimes, not petty offenses.

Where Can an Officer Make an Arrest?

There are three different types of law enforcement officers: city police officers, county sheriffs and state police officers. In most states, each type of law enforcement officer only has the power to make an arrest in the city or municipality that he or she works for. However, each state, city and municipality can make its own laws. It is typical for neighboring cities and counties to have written agreements allowing officers to make an arrest in multiple jurisdictions (interjurisdictional agreements).

Note that while a federal law enforcement officer generally has jurisdiction anywhere in the United States, a state law enforcement officer must remain in his or her state to make an arrest. For example, a police officer in Arizona cannot follow you into California and make an arrest. There are exceptions, however, if a state has given special permission for an out-of-state officer to make an arrest within the state.

Was Your Maricopa County Arrest Unauthorized?

If you have been arrested for an alleged DUI in Arizona, remember that an arrest is not a conviction. You can still hire a Tempe DUI lawyer and refute the charges brought against you. If you believe that the officer who arrested you was operating outside of his or her jurisdiction, your attorney may be able to use this as part of your defense strategy.

If the officer did make a mistake by arresting you outside of the correct or lawful jurisdiction, an experienced attorney may be able to use this to have the charges dismissed. It could also be used to have certain evidence ruled as inadmissible, such as evidence acquired during an illegal search and seizure outside of the officer’s county.

For more information about police jurisdictions in Maricopa County and how this may relate to you or a loved one’s criminal case, contact Rosenstein Law Group for a free and confidential consultation with one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys.

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