- A viral post from David Jessica Romero claims Hobbs police did nothing after their daughter was grabbed inside a Walmart
- According to Hobbs police they are not allowed to make an immediate arrest since the crime was only a battery
- In New Mexico, if it is not skin-to-skin contact it is not considered a sexual crime
On Sunday, David Jessica Romero made a post to Facebook that has since gone viral after their daughter was assaulted in a Hobbs, New Mexico Walmart.
David Jessica Romero Post Their Story To Facebook
The post included two images of the man who allegedly assaulted their daughter. According to the post, police were called and the man was seen assaulting the daughter on surveillance video. Despite the public assault, the post claims the man was not arrested because it was not skin to skin contact.
Hobbs Police Respond To Viral Post
In under 24 hours the post was shared over 66,000 times. Social media users were outraged that the man was not arrested for grabbing their daughter in a sexual manner. The backlash on social media forced a response from the Hobbs Police Department. HPD confirmed the incident did occur on their Facebook page on Monday.
According to HPD, police responded to the Walmart at approximately 5:00 pm on Sunday. The officers interviewed the 20-year-old victim and the 53-year-old suspect and completed a battery report. HBP stated they “cannot make an immediate arrest in a case such as this unless they witness the incident.” The end of the post reads, “A police report was completed and the process of filing charges explained to the reporting party.”
Law Of Arrest
It is not exactly clear what the HPD was referencing when they claimed they could not make an arrest. According to the Laws of Arrest for the Santa Fe, New Mexico Police Department, “Before the mid-1990’s, an officer would arrive at a misdemeanor domestic violence but couldn’t make an arrest” since it did not occur in the officer’s presence. However, an exception to the law was created that permits an officer to make an arrest for domestic violence, assault, and battery, “even though it did not occur in his or her presence.” According to NOLO, “A person who commits a petty misdemeanor assault or battery in New Mexico can be arrested, prosecuted, and sentenced to time in jail, probation, and ordered to pay a fine.”
Some social media users are mad the charge is only a battery and not considered a sex crime. Unfortunately, according to New Mexico’s criminal sexual contact laws, what happened at the Walmart on Sunday is not a sex crime. According to JUSTIA, “Criminal sexual contact is the unlawful and intentional touching of or application of force, without consent, to the unclothed intimate parts of another who has reached his eighteenth birthday, or intentionally causing another who has reached his eighteenth birthday to touch one’s intimate parts.” The fact that the incident was not skin-to-skin contact means it technically does not fall under the state’s sexual contact laws.
New Mexico criminal statutes define battery as the “unlawful, intentional touching or application of force to the person of another, when done in a rude, insolent or angry manner.” In one aspect, the HPD was correct with their handling of the situation according to criminal statutes, but it is unclear if they were correct with their decision of not arresting the 53-year-old suspect at the scene.