What Are the Laws Against Looting in New Mexico?

Posted on by New Mexico Criminal Law Offices

Defense Attorneys Fighting Looting Charges in New Mexico

pick pocket stealing from woman's purseIt is common to see acts of looting, especially after natural disasters or other devastating events. Some individuals will start taking whatever they want among the chaos, and they do so assuming there are no consequences for their actions. There are instances where looters reach for necessities, like clothing, food, or water. However, other times, looters take advantage of the situation and will take items including electronics, jewelry, computers, and more.

Looting is Stealing

Looting is a form of stealing. A looter, depending on how he or she goes about looting, could face multiple criminal charges. The charges may range from larceny, grand theft, burglary, petty theft, and more. Some states have laws specifically against looting, and those states with specific laws for looting have much harsher penalties in place to punish those convicted of doing it.

Looters can only be charged if they are caught. In most instances of widespread looting, the looters are never caught or there is too many at once for law enforcement to keep up. In natural disasters, the last thing police forces worry about is looting. Instead, they are concerned about the safety of the public. However, just because law enforcement is occupied does not mean that that it is okay to loot.

When a Homeowner Protects the Home from Looters

During a time of looting, riots, natural disasters, and more, a homeowner may attempt to protect his or her family’s and home’s possessions from looters. This is, however, extremely dangerous, and never recommended.

If a person were to severely injure or kill a looter in his or her home, the law is not as clear. There is an acceptable level of force one can use to protect him or herself and family, but only in justifiable situations. These situations do not always apply, and if a looter was not violent, there may be no justification for killing that looter because he or she did not pose a threat to the homeowner or loved ones.

Defense for Looting

For those arrested for looting or for harming a looter in a home, it is best to consult with a New Mexico criminal defense attorney. An experienced looting defense lawyer can assess the case and determine if there is an adequate defense for actions.

There is a common defense to looting, which is known as necessity. However, just like self-defense of the home, a looter can only use the necessity defense when the individual can also show that he or she was acting for a higher good. Wholesale looting, stealing televisions, or taking thousands of dollars in merchandise is not considered a necessity by any means. In a time of a natural disaster, looting rations or water could be considered necessity. Also, under necessity, a person could take property to protect him or herself or others from death.

To use this defense, a person must take what is only needed to survive. Survival items include shelter, clothing, medicines, food, water, and gasoline. Again, these items are not taken in excess and are used in the moment – not to store and keep from others.

The necessity defense is extremely complicated, because a person must also not be the reason why the natural disaster occurred, and the situation could not be caused by the looter. Obviously, a looter would not cause a flood or earthquake.

Speak with a Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Looting-Related Arrest

If you were arrested for looting, you could face several years in prison depending on what you are charged with. To protect your best interests, contact the criminal defense attorneys at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices for a free consultation. Schedule your appointment now by calling 505-375-4661 or request more information online.