In State vs. Ochoa, it was held that New Mexico law departs from federal precedent, and makes pretextual stops illegal. In other words, even if the arresting officer has a valid reason to detain someone, the detention is unconstitutional if the real reason for the detention is to attempt to uncover other, unrelated criminal conduct.
Arguing that a stop is pretextual is difficult: Officers are not likely to admit to having ulterior motives to stop or detain citizens. However, each case is different, and sometimes an officer's motivation behind an arrest can be gleaned from seemingly unrelated evidence. I recently argued a motion based on the Ochoa decision, and my client's case was dismissed. In the case I litigated, evidence of the officer's whereabouts as caught on surveillance cameras combined with his conduct, line of questioning, and driving behaviors sufficiently demonstrated that though the officer claimed that he stopped my client for a minor traffic violation, his true intentions were to investigate other, unrelated, criminal conduct.
If you have been a victim of a pretextual stop, then please contact my firm. As an Albuquerque criminal defense attorney, I can make sure that your rights are properly defended against the offending police officer. Get in touch with my firm today by calling our office or filling out a
free case evaluation.