Attorney General's Criminal Law Update
It is difficult to discern the jurisdictional boundaries of a Texas peace officer's warrantless arrest authority. This is due in part to the variety of “peace officers” recognized in Texas law, and in part to the numerous imprecise statutes which govern the issue. Arrest “jurisdiction” may mean the authority to arrest for certain kinds of offenses, or it may refer to the power to make an arrest in a certain territorial area. Territorial jurisdiction is most difficult to resolve in Texas. The determination of whether an arresting officer is a “peace officer,” and if so, what kind of officer, is especially important in determining that officer’s territorial arrest jurisdiction.
Article 14.01(b) of the Code of Criminal Procedure says, “(a) peace officer may arrest an offender without a warrant for any offense committed in his presence or within his view.” This statutory language might be thought to confer on all “peace officers” the right to arrest without warrant anywhere within the state. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has rejected this interpretation, holding in Christopher v. State that the statutory warrant exceptions do not create the authority to arrest in any particular place, but only to arrest without a warrant if otherwise authorized to do so.
Texas law regarding territorial arrest jurisdiction is presently unduly lacking in uniformity, and complex. The ultimate solution lies in the adoption of uniform legislation expressly addressing territorial arrest jurisdiction.
Gerald S. Reamey, A Municipal Police Officer's Jurisdiction to Arrest Without Warrant, Aᴛᴛᴏʀɴᴇʏ Gᴇɴᴇʀᴀʟ’s Cʀɪᴍɪɴᴀʟ Lᴀᴡ Uᴘᴅᴀᴛᴇ, Apr. 1988, at 1.