I'd arrest you if you were five feet closer!
October 17, 2014 6:23 AM   Subscribe

I made it through law school without taking crim pro, I only crammed what I needed of crim pro for the bar exam, and my practice has nothing to do with criminal law. So, esteemed colleagues at the bar, can you tell me how jurisdictional lines affect police procedure at the state/local level?

You are not my lawyer (even I am not my lawyer), and this is not legal advice to me or anyone, nor is it in support of a nefarious criminal plan.

How do jurisdictional lines affect the (literal) bailiwicks of the local constabulary? How much real-time communication takes place between departments?

For instance:

  • What if an on-duty police officer on the road through South MeFi sees me stealing a car from the parking lot across the town line in North MeFi? Can he cross the town line to arrest me? Does he call in to North MeFi's dispatch desk?

  • What if North MeFi police are pursuing me after I steal that car, and I drive into West MeFi. Can North MeFi police continue to pursue me? If North MeFi police catch me, would I be arraigned in North MeFi for stealing a car, or West MeFi for driving a stolen car?

  • What if I stole the car from the North MeFi University parking lot, and the NMU campus police are sworn as police officers (as is often the case)? How far could they pursue me before going out of their operational sphere? Is there a scenario in which NMU police could actually arrest me in West MeFi?

  • What if I'm driving on a state road, policed by the State Police? How do they fit in? Or if I flee on foot through the grounds of the Haughey Federal Office Plaza?

  • What if I make it through the Haughey grounds, jump into the MeFi River, and swim across to the Commonwealth of Reddit? Who could lawfully arrest me there--South MeFi police? North MeFi? West MeFi? NMU Campus Police? State Police? Federal Protective Services?


  • You have three hours. You may use your outline and class notes, but not hornbooks. To simulate the ExamSoft experience, periodically erase your answer and start over again.
    posted by Admiral Haddock to Law & Government (7 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
     
    And as an additional question, what if the investigation into my car stealing frenzy leads the cops to get a warrant for my home in East MeFi. How does that search work? Who's there? Everybody? Just East MeFi PD? Or East MeFi PD and the police department that arrested me? The department for the jurisdiction that's prosecuting me? What if I'm being prosecuted at the state/local and federal levels for different crimes?
    posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:26 AM on October 17, 2014


    This differs state by state, but I do know there are several states in which a licensed peace officer's power to arrest someone isn't limited to the jurisdictional boundaries of the city or county which employs the officer. So, in my brief stint prosecuting misdemeanors all my cases were based on alleged crimes committed in the particular city for which I was prosecuting. However, although most of the arresting officers came from my city's police force, I also prosecuted cases that came from arrests or citations made by the state patrol, the county sherrif. a neighboring suburb's police force, and even a tribal police officer (he was just driving home to the reservation from the city when he happened upon a drunk driver swerving around, and his tribal police force had made the necessary arrangements with the State of Minnesota.)
    posted by Area Man at 6:48 AM on October 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


    New York specific answers:

    What if an on-duty police officer on the road through South MeFi sees me stealing a car from the parking lot across the town line in North MeFi? Can he cross the town line to arrest me? Does he call in to North MeFi's dispatch desk?

    Yes he can cross town line to arrest you. CPL 140.10 dictates that an officer may arrest a person anywhere in the state for any offense committed in his/her presence whether or not such crime was committed within the geographical area of such police officer's employment and regardless of the situs of the commission of the crime. They will likely inform the local jurisdiction of their intent to do so.

    What if North MeFi police are pursuing me after I steal that car, and I drive into West MeFi. Can North MeFi police continue to pursue me? If North MeFi police catch me, would I be arraigned in North MeFi for stealing a car, or West MeFi for driving a stolen car?

    Yes, they will continue to pursue you (see above). If North MeFi police catch you, you will likely be arraigned in North MeFi for the theft, but could also be charged in West MeFi for possession of stolen property (and may likely be charged in both jurisdictions).

    What if I stole the car from the North MeFi University parking lot, and the NMU campus police are sworn as police officers (as is often the case)? How far could they pursue me before going out of their operational sphere? Is there a scenario in which NMU police could actually arrest me in West MeFi?

    They can pursue you as long as they need to and yes, they could easily arrest you in West MeFi (see CPL 140.10). The situation changes slightly if they are peace officers instead of police officers. Under the facts you laid out they could still arrest you anywhere in the state if there is "reasonable cause to believe that such person committed such felony" in their presence (see CPL 140.25).

    What if I'm driving on a state road, policed by the State Police? How do they fit in? Or if I flee on foot through the grounds of the Haughey Federal Office Plaza?

    State Police doesn't really change our analysis. If the federal office plaza is deemed federal property then it gets a little trickier, and honestly, I'm not really sure how that works.

    What if I make it through the Haughey grounds, jump into the MeFi River, and swim across to the Commonwealth of Reddit? Who could lawfully arrest me there--South MeFi police? North MeFi? West MeFi? NMU Campus Police? State Police? Federal Protective Services?

    Any of the police above would have no problem arresting outside the state after a pursuit as long as the neighboring state has enacted the Uniform Close Pursuit Act (see CPL 140.55). I'm not sure about federal authorities.
    posted by Mr. X at 6:56 AM on October 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


    I can give you a couple of annecdotes from small southern town/county jurisdictional lines.

    First, the infamous bloody Sunday march in Selma, Alabama. The far end of the Edmund Pettus bridge marked the boundary between the jurisdiction of the Chief of Police of the City of Selma, who permitted civil rights demonstrations, and the Sherriff of Dallas County, who did not. The moment the marchers reached, paused, and then took a single step over the city limits the Sherriff and his posse broke up the march and through "hot pursuit" chased them back to the church where they began. You can also witness this jurisdictional line being crossed and similarly responded to by the Sheriff himself in films of activists attempting to register to vote at the Dallas County courthouse. As soon as activists stepped onto the stairs of the courthouse, the Sherriff takes over and beats and arrests them.

    Second, I worked at a summer camp in the mountains of rural east Tennessee. Behind the camp lived a family of notorious n'er-do-wells who constantly stole from the camp. Most of the camp grounds lay in County jurisdiction and the Sherriff was related to the family. The Police Chief of the town next to the camp and whose jurisdiction crossed one small corner of the camp told us in no uncertain terms after the family escalated their thefts to stealing cars and breaking into buildings, "If you can get them to that corner of the property and call me I will be very glad to come and jail them. I've been waiting for them to cross the line for a long time. Also, I don't care how you get them across the line or what condition they are in when you get them there, if you know what I'm saying."
    posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:02 AM on October 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


    1. yes, he will probably both cross the line to arrest you, and call it in to the local jurisdiction's desk. he has, after all, the same arrest powers as an ordinary citizen, backed with a gun, fancy car, cuffs, etc.

    2. yes, he can pursue you across the city line. where you will be arraigned is up to the prosecutors.

    3. they could pursue you to a state line, and they could damn well arrest you in west mefi. in california, campus cops can arrest for crimes occurring off their "reservations".

    4. state police have statewide jurisdiction. at the haughey plaza,, i assume you would be arrested by elite armed moderators.

    5. only the reddit constabulary has jurisdiction there.

    bonus: the east mefi cops would lead the search (unless it was federalized), but they typically invite cops from other interested jurisdictions.
    posted by bruce at 7:05 AM on October 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


    There's a good explanation of the way it works in Massachusetts in Com v. Bartlett, 465 Mass. 112 (2013).
    posted by ewiar at 9:02 AM on October 17, 2014


    I, too, managed to escape law school without taking Crim Pro. I defer to everyone else's explanations and answers to most of your questions. I can, however, answer some of this one:

    What if I'm driving on a state road, policed by the State Police? How do they fit in? Or if I flee on foot through the grounds of the Haughey Federal Office Plaza?

    The answer depends on how federal ownership of the property (if, in fact, owned by the federal government rather than leased) was established, and whether there have been any actions by the state legislature to cede jurisdiction to the federal government. The federal government does not gain exclusive jurisdiction merely by acquiring property. The state has to cede jurisdiction to the feds. Exclusive jurisdiction is rare, and not really desireable. That means that, in all likelihood, concurrent jurisdiction between the state and the federal government exists, and either may exercise law enforcement and police powers. Generally, the local authorities would cede the investigation and prosecution to the feds, but there's no reason local cops can't pursue and apprehend you on the federal property.*

    *This is all gross oversimplification, but it captures about 95% of the actual state of things in this arena.
    posted by ereshkigal45 at 2:25 PM on October 17, 2014


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