Fresh Pursuit Law & Legal Definition


Fresh pursuit is pursuit by a law enforcement officer (with or without a warrant) for the purpose of preventing the escape or effecting the arrest of any person who is suspected of committing, or having committed, a misdemeanor or felony. Fresh pursuit implies pursuit without unreasonable delay, but need not be immediate pursuit. It can also refer to chasing a suspect or escaped felon into a neighboring jurisdiction in an emergency, without time to alert law enforcement people in that area.

In some cases, a fresh pursuit may justify a warrantless entry by law enforcement officers. For example, under California law, a “fresh pursuit” results when the following circumstances exist:

  1. Serious felony: Officers had probable cause to arrest the suspect for a serious felony, usually a serious and violent felony.
  2. Diligence: Officers were diligent in their investigation.
  3. Suspect in house: Officers reasonably believed the suspect was presently inside a certain house or other private place. If it’s the suspect’s residence, officers must have reasonably believed the suspect was inside; but if it is the home of a third person, such as a friend or relative of the suspect, officers must have had probable cause to believe the suspect was inside.
  4. Circumstantial evidence of flight: There were circumstances indicating the suspect was in active flight or soon would be.

The following is an example of a state statute dealing with fresh pursuit:

"Arrest; exception

Any member of a duly organized state, county or municipal police unit of another state of the United States, who enters this State in fresh pursuit and continues within this State in such fresh pursuit of a person in order to arrest him on the ground that he is believed to have committed a crime punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment equal to or exceeding one year or to have operated a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs in such other state, shall have the same authority to arrest and hold such person in custody as has any member of any duly organized state, county or municipal police unit of this State to arrest and hold in custody a person on the ground that he is believed to have committed such a crime or operated a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs in this State. This section shall not be construed so as to make unlawful any arrest in this State which would otherwise be lawful."