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The meaning behind being “seized” by the law

Most Americans in New Mexico and around the country will learn that the Fourth Amendment means that an unreasonable “search” and “seizure” of a person is prohibited. For many years the amendment seemed to be clear, but that all changed during the case of Torres v. Madrid. The following includes the facts of the case, procedural history, and a discussion of the various legal issues surrounding this case.

The facts

On July 15, 2014, New Mexico police arrived at an Albuquerque apartment complex within the early hours of the morning. When police officers Janice Madrid and Richard Williamson arrived at the location, they noticed a Toyota FJ Cruiser parked with the car’s engine running. The two officers approached the vehicle, who was being driven by Roxanne Torres. When the two officers approached her car Torres quickly began to drive away. When asked why she drove away, Torres stated that she believed she was going to be car-jacked. The two officers who stated later that they feared she was attempting to run them over two out their guns and began shooting. Torres was struck twice and wounded. She quickly understood that she needed to get out of the damaged cruiser and thus swapped it for an unattended KIA Soul. Torres then drove to Grants, New Mexico, where she checked into a hospital and soon arrested.

The discussion process

As you can see from the information above, criminal law isn’t always so clear, and thus these types of issues must be researched using past cases. Justice Potter Stewart stated during the United States v. Mendenhall’s case that a person was only ‘seized’ when they believed they were not free to go. For many, that should have been the end as two officers holding their guns up clearly indicate that you’re not free to leave. However, other cases state that a person isn’t actually seized until they are in police custody.

The argument

Torres’ defense stated that being shot was not a form of being seized. This is because Torres was then able to have a middle part of not being “seized” and thus should be constituted as a violation of her constitutional rights. In this case, the officers would need to prove to the courts that any attempted manner to stop an individual should be considered a form of being seized.

When it comes to complicated areas of the law, such as the court case above, the accused could benefit greatly from obtaining an attorney who is experienced in criminal law and complex cases.