Law Enforcement’s Jurisdictional Limits & the Exceptions
September 22, 2021 Don Pumphrey, Jr. Criminal Defense Social Share
For the most part, police are only permitted to exercise their powers within their jurisdiction. This jurisdiction creates a geographic boundary that police can operate in, normally a county. However, there are exceptions to the rule that are imperative to know and understand.
What is “Fresh Pursuit” Exception?
This doctrine is codified in Section 901.25 of the Florida Statutes, which states that an exception to the jurisdiction regulation exists if there is a situation of fresh pursuit. Fresh pursuit is defined as the pursuit of a person who has committed a felony or who is reasonably suspected of committing a felony. It also includes a person suspected of having committed a supposed felony, even if no felony has been committed, if there is reasonable ground for believing that a felony has been committed. Lastly, it includes the pursuit of a person who has violated a county or municipal ordinance, has violated Chapter 316, or has committed a misdemeanor. For an officer to engage in fresh pursuit, the following conditions must be satisfied:
- The police officer must act without unnecessary delay;
- The pursuit must be continuous and uninterrupted; and
- There must exist a temporal relationship between the commission of the offense and commencing the apprehension of the suspect.
In such situations of fresh pursuit where the above conditions are met, an authorized state, county, or municipal arresting officer is permitted to arrest a person outside of the officer’s jurisdiction. If the officer makes an arrest outside of their jurisdiction, they must notify the officer in charge in the jurisdiction where the arrest was made. The officer in charge of the jurisdiction, along with the officer making the arrest, will take the arrested individual before a trial court judge of the county in which the arrest was made without unnecessary delay.
If an arresting officer is found to have not followed the guidelines of fresh pursuit when arresting an individual outside of their agency’s jurisdiction, all evidence gathered as a result of this illegal fresh pursuit must be suppressed.
What are Mutual Aid Agreements?
A mutual aid agreement is another exception that allows police officers to make traffic stops outside of their arresting jurisdiction. Such agreements are codified in Section 23.1225 of the Florida Statutes and define mutual aid agreements as one of the following types of agreement:
- A voluntary cooperation written agreement between two or more law enforcement agencies, which permits voluntary cooperation and assistance of a routine law enforcement nature across jurisdictional lines. The agreement must specify the nature of the law enforcement assistance to be rendered, the agency or entity that shall bear any liability arising from acts undertaken under the agreement, the procedures for requesting and for authorizing assistance, the agency or entity that has command and supervisory responsibility, a time limit for the agreement, the amount of any compensation or reimbursement to the assisting agency or entity, and any other terms and conditions necessary to give it effect;
- A requested operational assistance written agreement between two or more law enforcement agencies, which is for the rendering of assistance in a law enforcement emergency. The agreement must specify the nature of the law enforcement assistance to be rendered, the agency or entity that shall bear any liability arising from acts undertaken under the agreement, the procedures for requesting and for authorizing assistance, the agency or entity that has command and supervisory responsibility, a time limit for the agreement, the amount of any compensation or reimbursement to the assisting agency or entity, and any other terms and conditions necessary to give it effect; or
- A combination of the two.
Although combining efforts to better serve communities is a good concept, a tragic case occurred in 2017 when Tallahassee Police Department (TPD) and the Leon County’s Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) entered into a mutual aid agreement. This agreement was implemented with the intention of “giv[ing] police more freedom to work in the county to provide a timelier and more direct response to public safety issues. It directs the closest available officer or deputy to respond to a call for service – no matter where in Leon County it originates.” However, when an elderly man called for emergency medical assistance from a home outside of city limits, there was confusion among LCSO watch commanders, TPD supervisions, dispatchers, and patrol units about who should respond to the call. As result, deputies and medical personnel arrived seven minutes after the initial call, and the man who was transported to the hospital passed away from cardiac arrest. Although it is unknown whether the agencies confusion when deciding who should respond which lasted “about a minute” factored into his death, it is important that agencies who have mutual aid agreements try to work out possible scenarios so confusion does not potentially result in less efficient or effective response to individuals in need of emergency assistance.
Tallahassee Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or a loved one’s criminal case involves an officer acting outside of their jurisdiction, it is imperative you seek the guidance of an aggressive and experienced Tallahassee criminal defense attorney. Don Pumphrey and the members of the legal team at Pumphrey Law Firm have immense experience defending Floridians from unjust charges involving fresh pursuit and mutual aid agreements. Call us today at (850) 681-7777 or send an online message to discuss your case during an open and free consultation with an attorney in our legal team.
This article was written by Sarah Kamide