A warrant is issued for the arrest of Jimmy Jones for crimes committed in Springfield County. Officer Bob is an officer with the Shelbyville Police Department, a city in Simpson County near the boarder of Springfield County. Officer Bob knows that Mr. Jones is hiding in Springfield County and that it is time critical such that Officer Bob cannot contact proper authorities. No crime described in the warrant occurred in Simpson County. Can Officer Bob enforce this warrant in Springfield as an officer of Shelbyville PD?

The correct answer should be able to show specific case law.

Jurisdiction: Fictional U.S. State (AKA I'm not looking for a specific state law but a federal law ruling.).

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    I would be surprised if there was an answer to this that draws on federal law. The Constitution doesn't discuss county or city governments at all, and it's not clear to me what the federal question would be. And the several states differ in how they delegate authority to local governments and their agencies. Commented Nov 18, 2021 at 20:38
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    Why is time critical? The reason is very important to the correct answer. The state in question also matters, although there isn't huge interstate variation on this issue.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Nov 19, 2021 at 0:00

1 Answer 1


Assuming that all of these locations are in the same state, this is not an issue of federal law and is not governed by the U.S. Constitution. The geographical jurisdiction of state and local law enforcement officers is exclusively a matter of state law and has no single correct resolution. Different states handle the issue differently.

Even if state law or the state constitution prohibited the arrest, this violation of state law or the state constitution, would not give rise to a federal claim for violation of civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which may vindicate only federal rights, and could not form a basis for a collateral attack on a state court conviction in a federal court habeas corpus petition which is likewise limited to vindications of federal law rights.

Any remedy would have to be secured in the state court system invoking state law rights (assuming for sake of argument that state law provides such a remedy), or in a diversity lawsuit in federal court applying state substantive law, if the defendant was from another state and the amount in controversy was in excess of $75,000.

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