Can a Cop Follow You Home? Know Your Rights

can a cop follow you home

Getting pulled over by the police is an unnerving experience for most people. It’s one thing for a cop to follow you on a highway or a busy street, but having a cop follow you home is a totally different story. Can a cop follow you home though, and is this legal?

Having a cop follow you home is perfectly legal. It’s important to remain calm if this happens to you. Most of the time, you may have done some traffic infraction that you are unaware of, which is why the officer followed you home.

Still, you need to be smart about interacting with a cop that followed you home in order to avoid getting into more trouble or getting hurt. This article will give tips on what you can do if a cop follows you home.

Can a Cop Follow You to Your House?

A police officer’s job is to keep the citizens safe. So, when a police officer is tailing you, they are just doing their job of keeping the streets safe. That said, they might have a reason for suspecting you of doing a crime.

The police officer has the right to follow you to your house, and it’s legal for them to do so. The thing is, if you didn’t do anything wrong, you don’t have anything to worry about. You don’t even have to invite the officer in but you can interact with them.

When you talk to the police officer, you can ask them if there’s something wrong. When you do, always talk in a polite, calm manner and act normal. That way, you’re not really giving them a reason to look into you further.

Is It Illegal For a Cop to Follow You?

When a cop follows you home, understand that it’s not illegal. They can even follow you for miles, with or without the decision to pull you over. Most of the time, if you’re innocent and you’re one hundred percent certain you didn’t do anything, you don’t have to worry.

Perhaps, you have a record of DUI. If a police officer happened upon your vehicle and ran your plate, they can stick around just to make sure you’re not doing anything illegal. On the other hand, if you’re clean, don’t let their tailing intimidate you.

You can just drive slowly while still following traffic rules, and in no time, the police will leave you alone.

How Far Can a Police Officer Follow You Before It’s Considered Harassment?

Now, what if you’ve been driving for several minutes and for miles and you notice that you are being followed by a patrol car? Of course, you would immediately think it’s annoying. Harassment may even come to mind and you’re wondering if you should pull over and confront the officer.

Before you do any of that, you might want to consider that a police car following you may be a mere coincidence. They may have just traveled the same road as you do and you might just be paranoid about it. They can even follow you day and night without issues.

There is no limit as to how long police can follow you and that is not considered harassment. That is also part of just doing their job properly and for good reason. Perhaps, you may have committed a violation and the officer just wanted to make sure you don’t repeat it.

Following you endlessly may also be their way of exhausting their suspicion. For instance, your car may resemble that of a vehicle that is part of an investigation.

The police following you may be running your plates to check if you are indeed a suspect or not. Since running plates can take time to generate results, the police can choose to just follow you for however long until something comes up. If you’re cleared and they’ve confirmed your vehicle is not a match, they will leave you alone.

How Many Blocks Can a Cop Follow You?

Officers can follow you to as many blocks as there are as long as they’re within their jurisdiction.

If you are no longer in their jurisdiction, a police officer can call for backup in the next jurisdiction to continue tailing you – but that is if you’ve committed a crime. If they have no further reason to follow you, they would just stop following.

Why Do Cops Follow You Before Pulling You Over?

There are so many reasons why a police officer sticks to following you instead of pulling you over. As mentioned above, they might be waiting for results when doing plate checks to confirm whether or not you are suspicious.

Below are other possible scenarios that may explain why a cop will follow you without pulling you over:

  • When you drove over the speed limit for a brief moment, or maybe you failed to use a turn signal during one of your turns. These are all minor offenses and the police can follow you before pulling you over just to decide if your offenses are worth letting go of. If they follow you and see that it was just a one-time mistake from you, they would decide against pulling you over and issuing a ticket.
  • They may just be traveling in the same direction as you. Being followed by a police officer doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve done wrong – especially if you are certain that you didn’t do anything. It may have been just a coincidence.
  • If they ran your plates and saw you have severe priors, following you without pulling over could mean they’ve called backup and are just waiting for them to arrive before actually asking you to stop.
  • A cop following you can also be observing your behavior while being followed. This should give them a strong cause to pull you over.

Cop Followed Me but Didn’t Pull Me Over

Did it surprise you that a cop didn’t pull you over? For the reasons mentioned above, a cop can do that. If that happens, don’t change the way you’re driving and continue on as you normally would – unless you want the attention.

Can a Cop Follow You for No Reason?

Most of the time, people wouldn’t know why they’re being followed, and ultimately stopped, which is why they would always ask an officer the reason for being pulled over. 

And of course, the officer should have a reason because doing so without one is not acceptable. Most likely, cops are following you to either clear or confirm their suspicion about you. Perhaps, you did a minor traffic offense and they want to find more reason to let it go as a one-time mistake or pull you over.

Why Would an Undercover Cop Follow Me Home?

You wouldn’t really spot an undercover cop if there was one. Being an undercover cop is hard work. An undercover cop has to blend in perfectly with the environment and is careful enough not to give away any signs.

If there is an “undercover cop” around your home, that is most likely an officer on duty wearing plain clothes (or called plainclothes officers) and driving unmarked patrol cars but with government plates. Still, they have their badges and weapons with them. A true undercover cop usually does not and will appear as a regular person who’s part of the neighborhood.

If, however, there is an undercover cop around someone’s home without the homeowner realizing it, that usually means bad news. The authorities only send undercover cops if the suspect is in some very serious trouble. Also, the suspect can be a challenge to deal with – meaning, they’re smart and cunning and the only way to apprehend them is to get their trust.

Another reason for an undercover cop to follow someone is if the person is tipped off as someone who is part of a criminal activity, whether or not there is truth to it.

Can a Cop Follow You Out of His Jurisdiction?

We’ve mentioned above how an officer can follow you to as many blocks as possible as long as they’re within the officer’s jurisdiction. But there might be more to that. 

Naturally, a cop can’t follow, pull you over, or arrest you outside of their jurisdiction. But there are certain exceptions. For one, an officer can follow you or even arrest you outside of their jurisdiction if there has been a mutual agreement between police agencies that the arrest will be acceptable.

Another case where arrests made off the jurisdiction is valid is when the pursuit started from where the police officer is operating. This means that the officer can arrest you even outside his jurisdiction if the pursuit started from his own jurisdiction.

What You Should Do If You’re Being Followed By a Cop

Understandably, you can get pretty nervous when you’re being followed by a cop. It’s important to know your rights in this situation. So, here are some tips on what you can do should you feel uncomfortable being followed by a cop.

  • Do not ever speed up if you notice a cop following you.
  • Remain calm and just drive normally within the speed limit.
  • If the cop puts on the emergency flashing lights or the siren, pull over.
  • If you have to pull over, do so gently. Use your turn signal to indicate you are pulling over.
  • If you’re at a complete stop, always show both your hands. This is just one way of showing you’re not a threat. After all, the truth is many police officers have been killed during traffic stops.
  • Talk to the officer in a calm manner. Do not be hostile.
  • Don’t get out unless you are asked to.
  • Don’t reach for your license (certainly not in your back pocket or the glove compartment) unless the officer asked for it.

Conclusion: Can a Cop Follow You Home?

It is a police officer’s job to keep everyone safe. If it means having to follow you home will quash their suspicions about you, then police officers will do it – and it’s perfectly legal. Also, just because you’re being followed doesn’t always mean you did something wrong.

So, before reacting as to why a cop is following you home, remain calm and assess the situation. If you are certain you didn’t do anything wrong, then continue driving normally. The police car might just be driving the same direction as you are and you might just be being paranoid. 

On the other hand, if you have the slightest idea as to why you’re being followed, let the officer do their job. You can interact with them but make sure you remain calm and follow the police officer’s directives.