Police officers are hired to operate in certain geographic zones based on the department where they are employed. However, there are some situations where they may try to make an arrest or give someone a ticket while outside of their jurisdiction. This is allowed in certain, limited circumstances. In others, it may mean that they have made an unlawful arrest – and this could impact the entire outcome of a case, even resulting in the dismissal of all charges against a person.
Every case is different when it comes to officers making arrests outside of their jurisdictions, so we will share some basic information about this issue and attempt to shed light on when it may and may not be allowed. As always, the best way to get insight pertaining to your case is by involving an attorney who has experience with such matters. Our Tampa criminal defense lawyers are standing by to offer our guidance – all you have to do to get started is call (813) 321-7323 for your free consultation.
When Can a Cop Make an Arrest Outside of Their Jurisdiction?
In Florida, the scenarios where a police officer can make a lawful arrest outside of their jurisdiction are limited.
An officer may stop or detain someone if:
- A mutual aid agreement exists between the law enforcement agency where the officer works and the agency that oversees the jurisdiction where the stop or arrest was made. This agreement would authorize officers to respond to unlawful activity in all jurisdictions of all participating departments. Mutual aid agreements may exist between two or more law enforcement agencies.
- The officer was in fresh pursuit of the person. Sometimes referred to as “hot pursuit,” this means that the officer was actively pursuing a suspect who was fleeing in order to avoid being taken into custody. In these cases, the officer may pass outside of their territory in pursuit of the suspect, but they would still have the authority to make an arrest if the chase ended in another jurisdiction.
- The officer witnessed a felony. When a police officer witnesses a felony offense (such as assault with a deadly weapon, attempted murder, robbery, or carjacking) outside of their jurisdiction, they may have the authority to detain the suspect.
In these scenarios, the officer would have the same authority to arrest and place someone in custody as if they were in their own jurisdiction. In the absence of one of the above scenarios, however, the officer has no more authority than a normal citizen. They may have a badge and a gun, but this does not grant them unlimited power to give tickets or detain people.
Citizen’s Arrest by a Police Officer
There is one final scenario where a police officer may make an arrest outside of their jurisdiction, and this is when they are acting not as a cop but as a normal citizen by making a citizen’s arrest. In Florida, a police officer may make a citizen’s arrest if they have witnessed a felony or an act that poses a threat to public safety and order. Citizens' arrests cannot be made for minor traffic infractions or other incidents that do not constitute a breach of the peace.
Arrested by a Cop Outside of Their Jurisdiction? Talk to a Tampa Criminal Lawyer!
While the issue of an arrest by an officer outside of their jurisdiction doesn’t come up often, when it does, it can present serious complications that are best understood and reviewed with your attorney. Citizens' arrests and arrests by officers from other jurisdictions can present opportunities to build weaknesses in the prosecuting attorney’s case and could even result in it being thrown out of court.
As Tampa criminal defense lawyers with more than four decades of experience and thousands of cases under our belts, we at Thomas & Paulk understand how Florida law applies to arrests outside of a police officer’s jurisdiction, when this is allowed, and when it is not. Contact us today to learn more.