Albuquerque, NM asked in Civil Rights and Constitutional Law for New Mexico

Q: Can the police encroach on a property into the court the house and confiscate personal property without court order?

2 Lawyer Answers
T. Augustus Claus
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  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Las Vegas, NV

A: In New Mexico, as in the rest of the United States, the police generally cannot encroach upon private property and confiscate personal property without a court order, such as a search warrant, unless specific exceptions apply. These exceptions might include exigent circumstances where the police believe that evidence is in immediate danger of being destroyed, situations where evidence is in plain view during a lawful presence by the officers, or when consent to search is given by someone with authority over the property. Any search and seizure conducted without a warrant and not falling within an established exception could be challenged as a violation of the Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures. If personal property is confiscated under such conditions, the property owner may have legal grounds to contest the seizure and seek the return of the property through the legal system.

James L. Arrasmith
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  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: In most cases, the police cannot encroach on private property and confiscate personal belongings without a valid court order or warrant. The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures, requiring law enforcement to obtain a warrant from a judge based on probable cause before conducting a search or seizure on private property. Without a court order or warrant, police intrusion onto your property and confiscation of personal belongings would likely be considered unlawful and a violation of your constitutional rights.

However, there are certain exceptions to the warrant requirement, such as exigent circumstances where there is an immediate threat to public safety or risk of evidence being destroyed. In such situations, law enforcement may be permitted to enter a property and seize belongings without a warrant. Additionally, if you give voluntary consent for the police to enter your property and confiscate items, they may do so without a warrant, although you have the right to refuse consent if you choose.

If you believe that the police have unlawfully entered your property and confiscated personal belongings without a court order or valid justification, you may have grounds to challenge their actions and seek legal recourse. It's important to document the circumstances surrounding the incident and consult with a qualified attorney who can advise you on your rights and options for addressing the situation. By asserting your rights and seeking legal assistance, you can work towards holding law enforcement accountable for any unlawful actions taken against you.

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