Salt Lake Criminal Defense Attorney Utah
Criminal Defense Attorney Stephen Howard
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Utah Police Jurisdictional Limits

Can a Utah police officer arrest a person outside the city limits or outside of the county of the officer's normal jurisdiction?

The belief that a police officer has to stop at the county line or at a city boundary is a mistaken belief. A police officer's authority outside of his/her normal jurisdiction can include making a traffic stop, issuing a criminal citation, conducting an investigation, pursuing a suspect, or making a formal arrest.

In general, police officers will exercise their authority within the jurisdiction of the city or county in which they are employed. Certain law enforcement officers (Utah Highway Patrol, SBI, etc.) have statewide jurisdiction. But even local police officers or county sheriff's deputies may exercise their authority beyond their normal jurisdictions under certain circumstances.

The authority to act outside of a police officer's normal jurisdiction is governed by Utah Code 77-9-3. This statute provides a law enforcement officer who is authorized by any governmental entity in the State of Utah (e.g., a city or county), to exercise authority beyond the officer's normal jurisdictional limits in the following circumstances:

  • when the officer is called to assist officers from another jurisdiction;
  • when the officer is participating in a criminal investigation that relates to activity that originated in the officer's normal jurisdiction and the officer is working in cooperation with the local authorities;
  • when a "public offense" (i.e. criminal offense - misdemeanor or felony) is committed in the presence of the officer; and
  • when the officer is engaged in "fresh pursuit" of a suspect, and the purpose of the pursuit is to arrest and hold that person in custody or to return the suspect to the offense where the offense was committed.
Note that this statute does not provide Utah peace officers with jurisdiction outside the State of Utah, but only within the State. Further, this statute requires officers to notify and receive authority from local law enforcement authorities prior to taking action when possible, or to notify local authorities as soon as reasonably possible if it is not feasible to obtain authority prior to taking action under this section.

Choosing a Utah Criminal Defense Attorney

Utah Criminal Defense LawyerIf you have been arrested or cited for a criminal offense in Utah, choosing the right criminal attorney to handle your case can be one of the most important decisions you make. With experience defending cases ranging from capital murder to DUI, and virtually everything in between, we have the knowledge, skills, and tenacity needed to help you get the results you need.

Whether your case involves misdemeanor or felony charges, the consequences of conviction can be serious. Contact us today to see how the right criminal defense attorney can help you.


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  • Selected Victories
  • Criminal Defense Trial AttorneyNot Guilty - Client was charged with aggravated assault for allegedly pointing handgun at and threatening another driver during a road rage incident. Defense investigation and analysis, combined with effective cross-examination at trial indicated the alleged victim was the initial aggressor and suported client's self-defense claim. Jury acquitted client at trial.
  • Criminal Appeals Defense AttorneyDismissed on Appeal - DUI case was dismissed after a successful appeal where the Utah Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's denial of the defense motion to suppress. Without the suppressed evidence, the prosecutor acknowledged that they did not have sufficient evidence to proceed to trial and the case was dismissed.
  • Utah 402 Reduction Attorney Felony Reduced - Client with prior felony conviction was granted a 402 reduction to the misdemeanor level over the objection of the prosecutor. Based on information provided to the court in support of the defense motion, the judge ruled in favor of the defense.
  • Felony Attorney Utah Dismissed - Client facing first-degree felony charge and possible life in prison for child kidnapping. Full defense analysis of the case revealed critical legal flaws in the prosecution's case. When confronted with the defense legal analysis, the prosecutor agreed to dismiss the case outright without trial.
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Choosing the best criminal defense attorney for your Utah criminal case may be the single most important decision you make. The courtroom can be a hostile place. Prosecutors receive extensive training on legal and tactical issues. Having an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side is critical to defending your case and protecting your rights....

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Even a single misdemeanor conviction in Utah can result in extended jail time and substantial fines. The collateral consequences of a criminal conviction can last a lifetime. Whether you are facing misdemeanor prosecution in a justice court or more serious felony charges in the district court, obtaining advice and assistance from an experienced criminal defense attorney is....

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Facing criminal prosecution in Utah can feel like your world is collapsing. But there are reasons to remain hopeful, and there are things you can do right now that can help increase the odds of a successful outcome. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you evaluate the various options you have, and can help you....

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Serving Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Utah, Cache, Tooele, Summit, Box Elder, and Wasatch Counties, and all of Utah.

Attorney Stephen Howard practices as part of the Canyons Law Group, LLC and Stephen W. Howard, PC.

Offices in Salt Lake and Davis Counties
560 South 300 East, Suite 200, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
952 S. Main St., Suite A, Layton, UT 84041

Call now to arrange for a confidential initial consultation with an experienced and effective Utah criminal defense lawyer.

In Salt Lake City, call 801-449-1409.
In Davis County, call 801-923-4345.

Stephen W. Howard, PC

The materials in this website are intended for informational purposes only, and are not legal advice. Viewing or responding to materials in this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. Read Full Disclaimer.