Massachusetts Court: Police Powerless Outside Jurisdiction

The Newspaper
by The Newspaper
massachusetts court police powerless outside jurisdiction

The Appeals Court of Massachusetts last month confirmed the principle that a police officer has no more power than any other citizen outside of his legal jurisdiction. The decision came in the context of an August 4, 2006 incident where Joseph Limone was driving his Oldsmobile on Montvale Avenue in Woburn just past Interstate 93. Limone rear-ended the car in front of him, which just happened to be driven by a uniformed police officer.

Somerville Police Officer Robert Kelleher just finished his shift and had been returning home. Kelleher got out of the vehicle, and approached Limone who repeatedly apologized. Kelleher ordered Limone out of the car. After noticing that the man appeared drunk, Kelleher pulled the keys out of the ignition so Limone could not drive away. He then told Limone to go back and wait in his car until Woburn police arrived. Minutes later, Woburn Officer David Simonds took over and asked Limone for his license and registration, Limone handed him a pack of cigarettes. Upon arrest, Limone blew a .12 on the breathalyzer and was booked for what would turn out to be his seventh conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). The court of appeal, however, found fault with his initial arrest.

“A police officer’s power to make a warrantless arrest is generally limited to the boundaries of the jurisdiction in which the officer is employed, and, absent fresh pursuit for an arrestable offense, a police officer is generally without authority to make an arrest outside his jurisdiction,” the appellate court ruled. “Outside his jurisdictional boundaries, a police officer stands as a private citizen, and if not in fresh and continued pursuit of a suspect, an arrest by him is valid only if a private citizen would be justified in making the arrest under the same circumstances.”

Because first-offense DUI is a misdemeanor — Kelleher only had reason to suspect Limone of a first offense — a private citizen would have no right to detain an individual for an apparent DUI.

“It was subsequent investigation that disclosed the defendant had been convicted on at least six prior occasions of operating while under the influence of liquor,” the court concluded. “Thus, the seizure of the defendant was unlawful.”

Because the initial arrest was unlawful, the evidence against Limone was thrown out as the ‘fruit of the poisonous tree.’ A copy of the decision is available at the source link below.

Massachusetts v. Limone (Court of Appeals, State of Massachusetts, 6/22/2010)


Join the conversation
5 of 33 comments
  • Revjasper Revjasper on Jul 13, 2010

    This doesn't make sense to me. It's totally fine about jurisdiction ending at the town line in Mass. What's confusing to me is that after the 5th DUI conviction in Mass, the drivers license is revoked permanently. That is after the mandatory minimum prison term for each felony conviction (3rd = 150 days, 4th = 1 year, 5th = 2 years) the person is not allowed to drive again, no hardship license allowed. It would be hard to exchange information with the other party when they have no driver's license or insurance. None of this is mentioned in the above article and linked case brief. What's confusing to me is that the officer didn't relay the plate number in his initial phone call to the Woburn PD. There's some good information that could have been passed on. Registered gun owner? History of violent felonies? The usual info that a police officer would want at any traffic stop. That information (if linked with that vehicle) would have given the Somerville officer the information that it was a felony DUI stop. I'm sure every force in MA is now re-writing their procedures because of this one.

  • Lumbergh21 Lumbergh21 on Jul 14, 2010

    I'll reiterate my point which was missed. I guess I wasn't clear enough, but why would any DUI, particularly one involving an accident, not be a felony!? I don't care if it's his first, fifth, or 100th. DUI, particularly when there is an accident, should be a felony. Evidently, if the cop had reason to believe that a felony had been committed, he would have had the right to detain the drunken SOB.

    • See 2 previous
    • Snakebit Snakebit on Aug 10, 2013

      Why a DUI, even just one, is not punished as a felony? Mainly, that's up to your state legislature. Felony, by most state definitions, involves a jail sentence on one year or more, if given the maximum term. That doesn't just mean you lose your license for a year, that means you spend a whole year(or more) in jail, which in most cases means you lose your job and you have a felony conviction on your record. THAT means your chances of getting a job after you're released are diminished. DUI is a very serious crime, but a lot of politicians, for the above reasons, are resistant to making first offense DUI a felony. Obviously if a serious accident or death were to be involved, other crimes would be charged, and felony penalties would kick in at that time.

  • Tassos What was the last time we had any good news from Ford? (or GM for that matter?)The last one was probably when Alan Mulally was CEO. Were you even born back then?Fields was a total disaster, then they go hire this clown from Toyota's PR department, the current Ford CEO, Fart-ley or something.He claims to be an auto enthusiast too (unlike Mary Barra who is even worse, but of course always forgiven, as she is the proud owner of a set of female genitals.
  • Tassos I know some would want to own a collectible Mustang. (sure as hell not me. This crappy 'secretary's car' (that was exactly its intended buying demo) was as sophisticated (transl. : CRUDE) as the FLintstone's mobile. Solid Real Axle? Are you effing kidding me?There is a huge number of these around, so they are neither expensive nor valuable.WHen it came out, it was $2,000 or so new. A colleague bought a recent one with the stupid Ecoboost which also promised good fuel economy. He drives a hard bargain and spends time shopping and I remember he paid $37k ( the fool only bought domestic crap, but luckily he is good with his hands and can fix lots of stuff on them).He told me that the alleged fuel economy is obtained only if you drive it like a VERY old lady. WHich defeats the purpose, of course, you might as well buy a used Toyota Yaris (not even a Corolla).
  • MRF 95 T-Bird Back when the Corolla consisted of a wide range of body styles. This wagon, both four door and two door sedans, a shooting brake like three door hatch as well as a sports coupe hatchback. All of which were on the popular cars on the road where I resided.
  • Wjtinfwb Jeez... I've got 3 Ford's and have been a defender due to my overall good experiences but this is getting hard to defend. Thinking the product durability testing that used to take months to rack up 100k miles or more is being replaced with computer simulations that just aren't causing these real-world issues to pop up. More time at the proving ground please...
  • Wjtinfwb Looks like Mazda put more effort into sprucing up a moribund product than Chevy did with the soon to be euthanized '24 Camaro.