Can a City Cop in Arizona Stop Me Outside the City Limits?
As an experienced Arizona criminal defense attorney, I routinely receive telephone calls that go something like this:
- “I was speeding in Gilbert, and the cop followed me into Mesa. Can she do that?”
- “I was arrested by a DUI task force. How can a Scottsdale cop arrest me in Tempe?”
- “I received a speeding citation from a tribal police officer on a state road. How is that even legal?”
Invariably, each of these questions is followed by the caller commenting about some classic western movie. Based on Hollywood, the caller is certain that “here in the West,” once you cross the river (or any other jurisdictional boundary), the law enforcement officer no longer has jurisdiction. I have ruined many a prospective client’s day when I informed him or her that the jurisdictional rules of the Old West no longer apply in Arizona.
In Arizona, police officers are certified or licensed by a statewide agency known as the Peace Officers Standards and Training Board, commonly referred to as “POST”. Once a police officer has received POST certification, pursuant to state law, that officer basically has authority anywhere within the State of Arizona. [See, A.R.S. § 13-3871, et seq.]. Whether they are formally invited into another jurisdiction, such as a multi-agency DUI task force, or just happen to witness a crime while coming back from court, none of these “out of city” citations or arrests can be challenged due to a lack of lawful authority.
Section 13-3874 specifically notes that any tribal police officer who has received an Arizona POST certification “shall possess and exercise all law enforcement powers of peace officers in this state.” For that reason, most tribal police departments require all their officers to be Arizona POST-certified. Federal law enforcement officers, like the FBI or Border Patrol, can also become certified to enforce Arizona laws.
While a Gilbert police officer has the legal authority to write a traffic ticket within Mesa’s boundaries, the Gilbert courts do not have authority to resolve that citation. I commonly get such citations dismissed because the officer failed to file the citation in the correct court. Because some jurisdictions are more lenient than others with certain misdemeanor offenses, getting a citation resolved in the correct municipal court can often lead to a diversion program in lieu of a conviction.
Our attorneys have vast experience in all the municipal courts throughout the state. If you received a citation or were arrested by a city police officer outside of that city’s boundaries, please give us a call at (480) 833-2341.
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