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Lawyer: Broward deputies made arrest outside jurisdiction

The arrest of a 38-year-old man by Broward County Sheriff's Office deputies recently has raised a significant jurisdictional issue for the defense and allowed defense counsel to call the officers' credibility into question. The man was arrested on drug charges after deputies stopped him for allegedly running a red light.

According to the arrest report, the man ran a red light on North Federal Highway in Deerfield Beach. The officers claim they smelled marijuana in the man's vehicle, and a search of the vehicle allegedly turned up marijuana and sales ledgers. The man was arrested on felony drug charges of possession with intent to distribute.

But the man's defense lawyer says a police radio recording and a receipt from the company that towed the man's vehicle show the traffic stop and the arrest actually took place about 1.7 miles north of the location stated in the report-in Boca Raton, Palm Beach County. The defense lawyer has asked that the evidence seized in the search of the man's truck be ruled inadmissible at trial.

County law enforcement agencies generally only have authority to make arrests within the geographic boundaries of their county. In some circumstances, officers who are following a suspect after developing probable cause within their own jurisdiction are allowed to follow the suspect outside the jurisdiction to make the arrest. This is known as the fresh pursuit doctrine. But fresh pursuit would not apply if both probable cause and the arrest took place outside Broward County.

The possibility that officers falsified information also gives the defense an opportunity to attack their credibility on cross-examination. Defense counsel can argue to the jury that if a witness is lying about one thing, their testimony is not trustworthy as to anything.

Source: Sun-Sentinel, "Broward deputies accused of lying about drug arrest," Rafael Olmeda, March 11, 2014

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Andrew M. Coffey has been recognized as a Board Certified Civil Trial lawyer by the Florida Bar. Certification is the highest level of recognition by The Florida Bar of the competency and experience of attorneys in the areas of law approved for certification by the Supreme Court of Florida.

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