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In the case of City of Tacoma v. Durham, the Washington Court of Appeals considered the limits of the fresh pursuit doctrine. The doctrine allows police officers to make an arrest outside of their jurisdiction if they are in fresh pursuit of a suspect who committed a crime within their jurisdiction.

The case arose when James Durham was stopped by a Tacoma police officer for speeding on State Route 2. The officer asked Durham for his identification, and Durham refused to provide it. The officer then detained Durham and searched his vehicle, where he found marijuana. Durham was charged with possession of marijuana and driving under the influence.

At trial, Durham challenged the search of his vehicle, arguing that the officer did not have probable cause to stop him. The trial court found that the officer had probable cause, and Durham was convicted. Durham appealed, arguing that the officer did not have fresh pursuit because he stopped him outside of Tacoma’s jurisdiction.

The Court of Appeals held that the officer did not have fresh pursuit. The court reasoned that the officer did not actually see Durham commit the crime, and he did not have any other information that would have led him to believe that Durham had committed a crime in Tacoma. The court also noted that the officer did not immediately pursue Durham after he saw him speeding.

The decision in City of Tacoma v. Durham is an important reminder of the limits of the fresh pursuit doctrine. The doctrine only applies if the police officer:

  • Actually sees the suspect commit the crime, or
  • Has other information that would lead them to believe that the suspect committed a crime in their jurisdiction.
  • Immediately pursues the suspect.

City of Tacoma v. Durham 95 Wn. App. 876 (Wash. Ct. App. 1999)

You can read more about the fresh pursuit doctrine: The Limits of Fresh Pursuit: What You Need to Know

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