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Generally speaking, state and municipal police are permitted to exercise their arrest power outside the geography of their jurisdiction, so long as they are in "fresh pursuit" of the suspect apprehended. This is to prevent criminals from simply fleeing across state lines to escape criminal liability for their actions.

What is the definition of "fresh pursuit," and where are its limits either in geography, timeliness, or the like?

Hypothetical if it helps: As part of an investigation into charges of solicitation for prostitution, a police officer - posing as a prospective client - enters a vehicle the suspect is driving without alerting the suspect to the fact that they are a police officer in order to continue to gathering evidence prior to making the arrest.

The evidence that the officer is looking for occurs across state lines. May the officer make the arrest there and then, in the foreign jurisdiction, on the grounds that their investigation constitutes pursuit? Or must they wait until they are driven back to the state they hold jurisdiction in to announce their identity and make the arrest?

2 Answers 2

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This determination is largely a facts and circumstances specific test to be evaluated with little additional legal guidance by the judge or jury faced with evaluating the question (usually a judge in the way that the issue usually presents itself).

Like many fairly vague legal standards, it leaves open the possibility that there will be inconsistent rulings on this question in circumstances presenting similar facts.

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Once they cross into another jurisdiction, they are effectively acting as a citizen. This mean they can do whatever other citizens can do AND they might even be able to go above the law in pursuit, but they risk getting arrested in that other jurisdiction.

When an officer goes "above the law" in pursuit of a crime, they should only do it with the grace of their elected leader. When they pass over into another's jurisdiction, they can't rely on that grace to defend them in Court.

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    Can you provide any evidence from reputable sources to support your claim that officers are "effectively acting as citizens" and can act "above the law", please.
    – user35069
    Commented Jul 7, 2022 at 6:50
  • @rick, in terms of "Above the law," surely you are familiar with how cops act at least in the US.
    – Tiger Guy
    Commented Jul 7, 2022 at 13:32
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    Not to mention that Citizen's Arrest is a thing in the United States.
    – hszmv
    Commented Jul 7, 2022 at 15:56
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    @Mark: Depends on jurisdiction, offense, and sometimes reciprocity. Here, county cops are explicitly authorized to chase someone into another county/city to arrest them, and retain their powers (law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title19.2/chapter7/section19.2-77). Even officers of other states pursuing a suspect into VA for a felony have an officer's arrest powers here, as long as our officers have the same powers there (law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title19.2/chapter7/section19.2-79).
    – cHao
    Commented Jul 8, 2022 at 16:57
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    @Mark: Even in the case of different states, reciprocity ensures the foreign cop some latitude. The catch is the arrest would have to be conducted according to VA law, including the arrestee being brought before the correct VA courts, extradition paperwork being filed, etc.
    – cHao
    Commented Jul 11, 2022 at 4:16

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