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Matthew A. Radefeld and Daniel A. Juengel

Can an officer make an arrest outside of their jurisdiction?

On Behalf of | Mar 23, 2023 | Criminal Law |

When local law enforcement officers are out on the beat, they are there to protect and serve the public. But just how far does that protection and service extend? Can an officer make an arrest if they are outside of their jurisdiction? 

In this post, we’ll explore the meaning of jurisdiction and whether an officer can make an arrest outside of the city to which they are sworn.

Definition of jurisdiction

Though there are several types of jurisdiction, a police officer’s jurisdiction falls under territorial jurisdiction, referring to the territory in which a law enforcement agency has authority to exercise its power. The limits of this jurisdiction will depend on the particular agency and the laws of both the state or local government and nation. Generally, a law enforcement officer only has authority in the jurisdiction in which they are sworn, subject to certain exceptions. 

When can an officer make an arrest outside of their jurisdiction?

There are instances in which an officer can make an arrest outside of their jurisdiction, but it is important to note that these cases require special circumstances, including: 

  • Hot pursuit: This is when an officer is in pursuit of a suspect who has committed a crime in their jurisdiction and crosses into another area. The officer is entitled to pursue the suspect into another jurisdiction and make an arrest. 
  • Mutual aid: This is when another agency or jurisdiction requests the assistance of the police in making an arrest. The requesting agency may have cause to arrest a person but lack the manpower or resources to do so. The responding agency is then allowed to make an arrest on behalf of the requesting agency. 
  • Extradition: This is when an arrested person is transported from one jurisdiction to another. This may occur when a person commits a crime in one state and flees to another. The jurisdiction with the arrest warrant has the legal authority to pursue the suspect and bring them back to face justice. 

When in doubt, a lawyer can help 

Jurisdiction can be complex, and there are many laws and regulations that govern an officer’s authority in the context of an arrest. Understanding the complexities of the boundaries of jurisdiction is quite difficult if you are not a student of the law. If you have been arrested and doubt the legitimacy of the officer’s authority, consult with an experienced lawyer to determine whether there is a weakness in the prosecution’s case.