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Matthew Radefeld & Dan Juengel
Matthew A. Radefeld and Daniel A. Juengel

When an officer oversteps their jurisdiction

On Behalf of | Feb 27, 2020 | Criminal Law |

Most law enforcement officials follow their duties to protect and uphold the law. Yet some may push its bounds to write tickets and make arrests. You may have fallen victim to one of these officers, since some might travel outside their jurisdiction to do this.

A jurisdiction is the area in which an officer can exercise their power. On occasion, officers can write tickets or make arrests outside of it. Yet in most instances, this is illegal. If you’re cited or arrested by an officer outside their jurisdiction, you can keep these tips in mind to protect yourself.

The limits of jurisdiction

By Missouri law, officers have limited power outside of their jurisdiction. Officers can only exercise this power elsewhere in cases of fresh pursuit. Fresh pursuit allows an officer to arrest you if they saw you commit a criminal act within their jurisdiction. But they can only pursue you outside it so long as the pursuit began immediately after they spotted you. And they must have probable cause to believe that you are evading them or are aware of their pursuit, too.

When an officer violates jurisdiction laws

If an officer pulls you over outside their jurisdiction, be careful if they try to search your vehicle. They may attempt to arrest you or add extra charges to your citation based on any evidence they may find. But because they discovered it in another jurisdiction, their actions are not legal. In this case, you can file a motion to suppress evidence found outside the officer’s jurisdiction.

If an officer is not in fresh pursuit, they cannot ticket or arrest you outside their jurisdiction. They may nonetheless have seen you engage in a criminal act. But if they were outside their jurisdiction when it occurred, they cannot respond to it, even if they are on duty.

What to do if you’re charged

Officers may break jurisdiction laws to cite or arrest you. No matter their rationale, it is not fair for them to get away with it. Working with a criminal defense lawyer can help you fight any charges you may receive when an officer does not observe these laws.