Advocates, legislators, and citizens have waited to see if New Mexico’s Governor would approve HB 560, after passing both State Houses. Hours ago Governor Susana Martinez signed the bill into law and, doing so, made her state the strongest protector of citizens’ right in asset forfeiture proceedings in the nation.

Groups across the political spectrum are citing this new legislation as a historic blow for greater property rights.

“This is a good day for the Bill of Rights,” said ACLU-NM Executive Director Peter Simonson. “For years police could seize people’s cash, cars, and houses without even accusing anyone of a crime. Today, we have ended this unfair practice in New Mexico and replaced it with a model that is just and constitutional.”

“With this law, New Mexico leads the nation in protecting the property rights of innocent Americans,” said Paul Gessing, President of the Rio Grande Foundation. “Convicted criminals will still see the fruits of their crime confiscated by the state, but innocent New Mexicans can now rest easy knowing that their property will never be seized by police without proper due process.”

The Governor herself stated that the legislation as “ensur[ing] safeguards are in place to protect our constitutional rights.” Her statement expressed strong support for law enforcement agencies that serve communities every day, but simultaneously showed that criminal convictions should be garnered before citizens lose their property.