Could I Be Arrested Just for Having Too Much Cash on Me?
Criminal Defense Attorneys Fighting for the Rights of New Mexico Residents Charged with Drug Crimes
You work hard at your job, and you save money. Sometimes, that entails having a large volume of cash on you all at once – especially if you are the type who prefers to pay with cash. While having plenty of cash on you seems innocent, it could lead to criminal charges.
Large sums of money on a person at a single time will raise the eyebrows of law enforcement officers. While the act of having large amounts of money on you is not illegal in itself, typically those with that much on them are often engaging in criminal activities. Therefore, you may gain unwanted law enforcement attention, your cash could be seized, and you could be arrested if additional evidence is found.
How Much Cash is Too Much?
Typically, a law enforcement officer becomes suspicious when someone has a few thousand dollars in cash – other times, it could be a few hundred. Cash is bulky, and with modern banking available to most consumers, it is uncommon to find someone with a large volume of cash on his or her person. Instead, most consumers walk around with credit or bank cards to access their funds.
Modern banking laws have been designed to help catch criminal activity. For example, financial institutions are required to report certain types of transactions, such as a large volume of cash being withdrawn from a bank account. Because of this, drug dealers and buyers tend to avoid putting their cash in the bank for fear that their withdrawals could be reported.
When a law enforcement official finds a large amount of cash on a person, there is the presumption that the cash could be used for illegal purposes.
Can You Be Arrested for Too Much Cash? Yes, and No
Having too much cash is not a reason to arrest someone, but having a large volume of cash on you will often be used as a basis for searching you, your vehicle, and your property. Basically, the large volume of cash provides the officers with probable cause to search without a warrant.
For example, say you have cash rolled into a ball with a rubber band. If you are stopped during a routine traffic stop, the officer will want to know why you have so much cash on you. He or she may suspect you of other criminal activity or drug dealing.
New Mexico and Civil Asset Forfeiture Laws
New Mexico has placed a ban on civil asset forfeiture. Therefore, in the state of New Mexico, having a large amount of money on you does not give the police the right to seize the assets. Under HB 560, civil asset forfeiture was replaced with criminal forfeiture.
Therefore, you must be convicted before you can lose property tied to your crime (i.e., your cash). So, while the officers may investigate you for a crime and seize your property, if you are not convicted, the cash will be returned to you.
If, however, you have any other evidence of drugs or criminal activity on you with the large sums of cash, you may find yourself facing drug charges. Therefore, it is best to consult with an criminal defense lawyer.
Arrested for a Drug Crime or Other Illegal Activity? Call a Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you or a loved one has been arrested for a drug crime or another criminal act, it is imperative that you contact a criminal defense law firm in New Mexico. You have rights, regardless of what crime you are being charged with. Schedule a consultation today with the attorneys at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices by calling us at 505-375-4661. You can also request your free case evaluation online.