The Fresh Pursuit Doctrine

The Fresh Pursuit doctrine involves a police officer exercising police powers outside the territorial limits of the officer’s municipality under certain limited instances.

Under Section 901.25, Florida Statutes, those circumstances might include the fresh pursuit of a person who has committed or is reasonably suspected of having committed a felony, or who has violated a county or municipal ordinance, chapter 316, or has committed a misdemeanor.

For an officer to pursue a suspect outside of her or his jurisdiction under the Fresh Pursuit doctrine, certain conditions must be met, including:

  • The police act without unnecessary delay;
  • The pursuit is continuous and uninterrupted;
  • There is a close temporal relationship between the commission of the offense and the commencement and apprehension of
    the suspect.

If your case involves an officer acting outside of their jurisdiction and then invoking the fresh pursuit doctrine, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Attorney on the Fresh Pursuit Doctrine in Florida

The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm fight criminal cases by filing motions to contest the legality of the stop or detention. Issues regarding the legality of the stop often arise in DUI cases or other criminal driving offenses.

Problems with the legality of the stop might also arise when contraband is found during a traffic stop, including narcotics or firearms.

Our main office is located in downtown Tampa in Hillsborough County, FL. Visit our other offices in New Port Richey in Pasco County and Clearwater in Pinellas County, FL.

Call 813-250-0500.

Officers Making an Arrest Outside of Their Jurisdiction

What happens when an officer makes an arrest for an offense outside of the officer’s jurisdiction? Under Section 901.25, Florida Statutes, an arrest made outside the officer’s jurisdiction might be validated under the concept of fresh pursuit.

Fla. Stat. § 901.25 provides, in part:

(1) The term “fresh pursuit” as used in this act shall include fresh pursuit as defined by the common law and also the pursuit of a person who has committed a felony or who is reasonably suspected of having committed a felony.

It shall also include the pursuit of a person suspected of having committed a supposed felony, though no felony has actually been committed, if there is reasonable ground for believing that a felony has been committed.

It shall also include the pursuit of a person who has violated a county or municipal ordinance or chapter 316 or has committed a misdemeanor.

(2) Any duly authorized state, county, or municipal arresting officer is authorized to arrest a person outside the officer’s jurisdiction when in fresh pursuit.

Such officer shall have the same authority to arrest and hold such person in custody outside his or her jurisdiction, subject to the limitations hereafter set forth, as has any authorized arresting state, county, or municipal officer of this state to arrest and hold in custody a person not arrested in fresh pursuit.

Nothing in Fla. Stat. § 901.25 requires:

  1. the crime committed continues during the pursuit;
  2. the police officers observe the vehicle within their jurisdiction;
  3. the perpetrator and/or his vehicle are located for the first time outside the officers’ jurisdiction.

Section 901.25(3), Florida Statutes requires the following:

If an arrest is made in this state by an officer outside the county within which his or her jurisdiction lies, the officer shall immediately notify the officer in charge of the jurisdiction in which the arrest is made.

Such officer in charge of the jurisdiction shall, along with the officer making the arrest, take the person so arrested before a trial court judge of the county in which the arrest was made without unnecessary delay.

However, an officer’s failure to comply with this provision does not necessarily affect the legality of the arrest. Espin v. State, 953 So.2d 781 (Fla. 4th DCA 2007).

Florida’s Definition of “Fresh Pursuit”

Fresh pursuit has been defined as requiring the following:

  • that the police act without unnecessary delay;
  • that the pursuit be continuous and uninterrupted; and
  • that there be a close temporal relationship between the commission of the offense and the commencement of the pursuit and apprehension of the suspect.

In State v. Phoenix, 428 So. 2d 262, 265 (Fla. 4th DCA 1982), the court concluded that “[t]he power to arrest after fresh pursuit presupposes that the officers had legally sufficient grounds to detain or arrest before they left their jurisdiction.”

Fresh Pursuit Scenarios in Florida

The 2019 Hearing Officer Training material presented each of the following scenarios.

Scenario #1:

City of Hialeah Officer, in his jurisdiction at an intersection, observes a truck driving at a high rate of speed in front of him. He then accelerates at high rate of speed to catch up to the truck. The officer follows the truck, entering Hialeah Gardens. He pace-clocks the truck and determines driver of the truck is speeding. The officer pulls the truck over, and orders the driver out. The driver eventually gets out. The officer observes the driver staggering, with slurred speech, a flushed face, bloodshot and glassy eyes, and an odor of alcohol from his breath. After the confrontation, the officer arrests the driver for battery on a law enforcement officer, DUI, and resisting arrest with violence.

Fresh Pursuit?

YES – The officer’s reasonable suspicion that the truck was speeding justified an extraterritorial stop under the fresh pursuit theory. The reasonable suspicion was formulated while the officer was in his jurisdiction in Hialeah that the driver was speeding. The officer was able to stop the driver based on the officers’s aural and visual perceptions. As a result, the Officer lawfully pursued and stopped him in Hialeah Gardens.

Scenario #2:

The off-duty officer observes a person driving in a very poor manner. The officer followed the vehicle as it proceeded through several jurisdictions. The officer noted various traffic infractions committed by the driver. The officer radioed for assistance from an on-duty officer from his department. The second officer from the first officer’s jurisdiction, who did not witness any poor driving, stopped the driver. The driver was eventually arrested and pled no contest to DUI.

Fresh Pursuit?

YES – Off-duty officer had the same authority to make an arrest as would have if he was on duty. The officer was engaged in fresh pursuit after first observing the driver driving dangerously in his jurisdiction, giving him probable cause to believe she was in violation of Chapter 316. Further, the “fellow officer” rule applied to the second officer who responded to the first officer’s call for assistance and thus could rely on the first officer’s observations of the driver. After receiving the information via radio, the second officer began his fresh pursuit in his jurisdiction, ending outside his jurisdiction when he stopped the

Scenario #3:

An officer with Mangonia Park observes a truck with half the length of the vehicle over the stop bar at a traffic light and subsequently driving erratically. The officer eventually followed the driver into West Palm Beach with lights and sirens on. He pulls the driver over in West Palm Beach, and seconds later, a backup officer from Mangonia Park arrives. The officer tells backup officer why he stopped the driver and that he smelled alcohol on the driver’s breath. The officer asks backup officer to perform a DUI investigation. The driver refused to perform field sobriety tests at the request of the backup officer, who, as a result, placed the driver under arrest.

Fresh Pursuit?

NO – While the first officer was in fresh pursuit of the driver and, as a result, had the authority to arrest the driver. The backup officer did not. Because the backup officer was not himself in fresh pursuit of the driver, he could not rely on the “fellow officer” rule as a legal basis for the arrest.

Scenario #4:

An officer from the Town of Lantana is patrolling the Town of Hypoloxo (due to an agreement between Lantana and Hypoloxo). The officer observes a driver failing to maintain a single lane. The officer follows the driver into Boynton Beach and approaches the driver. After the stop, the officer observes indicia of impairment from the driver and requests from dispatch a Lantana officer for a DUI investigation. The second Lantana officer comes, conducts an investigation, and takes the driver into custody.

Fresh Pursuit?

YES – The doctrine of “fresh pursuit” may be combined with the “fellow officer” rule to permit a second officer to effect a stop or arrest outside of the first officer’s jurisdiction if the first officer has pursued a subject outside his own jurisdiction, even though the second officer has no firsthand knowledge of any basis for the stop or arrest. This is true even if the second officer has come from the same jurisdiction as the first; neither officer need be from the jurisdiction in which the arrest occurs.

This article was last updated on Wednesday, April 19, 2023.