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New Mexico Crimes: Laws & Penalties

Understanding New Mexico’s Criminal Laws and Penalties

Crime Classifications in New Mexico

First off, New Mexico divides crimes into three main categories based on seriousness: felonies, misdemeanors, and petty misdemeanors. Here‘s a quick rundown:

  • Felonies are the most serious offenses, punishable by more than a year in prison. These are further divided into degrees, from first-degree (most severe) to fourth-degree (least severe).
  • Misdemeanors are less serious than felonies but still carry potential jail time of more than six months and up to a year, plus fines. Common examples include harassment, shoplifting, and simple battery.
  • Petty misdemeanors are the least serious crimes, punishable by up to six months in jail and smaller fines. Many traffic violations fall into this category.

It’s important to know what level of offense you’re dealing with, as that determines the potential consequences. A skilled criminal defense attorney can evaluate the specific charges against you and develop a strategy.

Felony Sentences in New Mexico

Now, let’s dive a bit deeper into felony sentences, as these tend to be the most concerning for folks. New Mexico law sets a basic sentence for each degree of felony:

  • First-degree felonies: Up to 18 years in prison and a $15,000 fine. If the crime resulted in a child’s death or involved aggravated sexual assault, the sentence can be life in prison.
  • Second-degree felonies: Up to 9 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. If a death occurred or the crime was a sex offense against a minor, the sentence can increase to 15 years.
  • Third-degree felonies: Up to 3 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. If the crime caused a death, the sentence can double to 6 years. For sex crimes against children, it can go up to 11 years.
  • Fourth-degree felonies: Up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine. For child exploitation crimes, the max is 10 years.

However, judges have some discretion to adjust these sentences up or down based on aggravating or mitigating factors. For example, using a gun during the crime can add 3 years to the sentence. Prior felony convictions can also lead to stiffer penalties under New Mexico‘s “habitual offender” laws.It’s a lot to take in, I know. The key is to work closely with your defense lawyer, who can explain how the specific facts of your case affect the potential sentence and work to get charges reduced or dismissed when possible.

Misdemeanor Sentences

While not as severe as felonies, misdemeanor convictions still come with some tough potential penalties in New Mexico:

  • Regular misdemeanors: Up to 364 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
  • Petty misdemeanors: Up to 6 months in jail and a $500 fine.

[For some misdemeanors, like DWIs, domestic violence, and repeat offenses, mandatory minimum jail time may apply.] So even if it’s “just a misdemeanor,” it needs to be taken seriously. Your attorney can help you understand the stakes.

Three Strikes Law

It’s also important to know about New Mexico’s [“three strikes” law]. If someone is convicted of three violent felonies from separate incidents, they face a mandatory life sentence, with parole eligibility after 30 years. The felonies that count as “strikes” are:

Christine Twomey
Christine Twomey
Just had my Divorce case settled 2 months ago after having a horrible experience with another firm. I couldn’t be happier with Claire Banks and Elizabeth Garvey with their outstanding professionalism in doing so with Spodek Law Group. Any time I needed questions answered they were always prompt in doing so with all my uncertainties after 30 yrs of marriage.I feel from the bottom of my heart you will NOT be disappointed with either one. Thanks a million.
Brendan huisman
Brendan huisman
Alex Zhik contacted me almost immediately when I reached out to Spodek for a consultation and was able to effectively communicate the path forward/consequences of my legal issue. I immediately agreed to hire Alex for his services and did not regret my choice. He was able to cover my case in court (with 1 day notice) and not only was he able to push my case down, he carefully negotiated a dismissal of the charge altogether. I highly recommend Spodek, and more specifically, Alex Zhik for all of your legal issues. Thanks guys!
Guerline Menard
Guerline Menard
Thanks again Spodek law firm, particularly Esq Claire Banks who stood right there with us up to the finish line. Attached photos taken right outside of the court building and the smile on our faces represented victory, a breath of fresh air and satisfaction. We are very happy that this is over and we can move on with our lives. Thanks Spodek law 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙌🏼❤️
Keisha Parris
Keisha Parris
Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
Taïko Beauty
Taïko Beauty
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence. Thank you team!
Anthony Williams
Anthony Williams
Hey, how you guys doing? Good afternoon my name is Anthony Williams I just want to give a great shout out to the team of. Spodek law group. It is such a honor to use them and to use their assistance through this whole case from start to finish. They did everything that they said they was gonna do and if it ever comes down to it, if I ever have to use them again, hands-down they will be the first law office at the top of my list, thank you guys so much. It was a pleasure having you guys by my side so if you guys ever need them, do not hesitate to pick up the phone and give them a call.
Loveth Okpedo
Loveth Okpedo
Very professional, very transparent, over all a great experience
Bee L
Bee L
Amazing experience with Spodek! Very professional lawyers who take your case seriously. They treated me with respect, were always available, and answered any and all questions. They were able to help me very successfully and removed a huge stress. Highly recommend.
divesh patel
divesh patel
I can't recommend Alex Zhik and Spodek Law Firm highly enough for their exceptional legal representation and personal mentorship. From the moment I engaged their services in October 2022, Alex took the time to understand my case thoroughly and provided guidance every step of the way. Alex's dedication to my case went above and beyond my expectations. His expertise, attention to detail, and commitment to achieving the best possible outcome were evident throughout the entire process. He took the time to mentor me, ensuring I understood the legal complexities involved to make informed decisions. Alex is the kind of guy you would want to have a beer with and has made a meaningful impact on me. I also want to acknowledge Todd Spodek, the leader of the firm, who played a crucial role in my case. His leadership and support bolstered the efforts of Alex, and his involvement highlighted the firm's commitment to excellence. Thanks to Alex Zhik and Todd Spodek, I achieved the outcome I desired, and I am incredibly grateful for their professionalism, expertise, and genuine care. If you're in need of legal representation, look no further than this outstanding team.
  • First- and second-degree murder
  • Shooting from a vehicle causing great bodily harm
  • Kidnapping with great bodily harm to the victim
  • Criminal sexual penetration
  • Armed robbery with great bodily harm

While this law is rarely used, it’s crucial to be aware of, especially if you have prior felony convictions. Work with your lawyer to avoid a “strike” whenever possible.

Juvenile Offenders

New Mexico treats juvenile offenders a bit differently than adults. The state has three categories that affect the process and potential sentences for minors:

  1. Serious youthful offenders: 15-18 year olds charged with first-degree murder; can face adult penalties.
  2. Youthful offenders: 14-18 year olds convicted of certain violent felonies; judge decides whether to impose juvenile or adult sentence after a special hearing.
  3. Delinquent offenders: All other juvenile offenders; can only be sentenced as juveniles.

[If your child is facing charges, consult with a juvenile defense attorney right away to protect their rights and future.] The system is different than for adults.

Collateral Consequences

Beyond jail or prison time and fines, a criminal conviction in New Mexico can have many other negative impacts on your life, often called “collateral consequences.” These may include:

  • Difficulty finding a job or housing
  • Loss of professional licenses
  • Ineligibility for certain government benefits
  • Restrictions on owning firearms
  • Consequences for immigration status
  • Limitations on travel

In some cases, you may be able to get your record expunged or sealed to minimize these effects. Talk to your attorney about whether you might qualify for this relief.

Navigating the System

I get it, facing criminal charges is stressful and overwhelming. The laws are complex, the stakes are high, and the process can be confusing. But remember, you don’t have to go it alone.Here are some key tips as you move forward:

  • Invoke your right to remain silent. Don’t discuss your case with anyone except your lawyer.
  • Hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. Look for someone who regularly handles cases like yours and who you feel comfortable with. Many lawyers offer free initial consultations.
  • Show up for all court dates. Missing court is a crime in itself and will only make your situation worse.
  • Be honest with your lawyer. Attorney-client privilege means what you tell your lawyer is confidential, and they need all the facts to mount the best defense.
  • Take care of yourself. Eat well, exercise, lean on your support system. Prioritizing your mental and physical health will help as you navigate this challenge.

Most of all, don’t give up hope. With the right legal counsel and a smart approach, you can get through this and move forward with your life.

Real-Life Examples

To illustrate how this all plays out in reality, let’s look at a couple examples:

  • John was charged with aggravated battery, a third-degree felony, after a bar fight. He had one prior felony conviction. Facing up to 6 years in prison, John hired an attorney who investigated and found evidence supporting self-defense. The lawyer negotiated with the prosecutor to get the charge reduced to a misdemeanor. John ended up with probation, anger management classes, and no further jail time.
  • Sarah, a 16-year-old, was accused of armed robbery, a second-degree felony. As a youthful offender, she faced a complex proceeding to determine if she would be sentenced as an adult. Sarah’s juvenile defense lawyer dug into her background, uncovering a history of abuse and mental health issues. Arguing that Sarah needed rehabilitation, not prison, the attorney convinced the judge to impose a juvenile sentence focused on counseling and support services.

Every case is unique, but these scenarios show how having a skilled lawyer in your corner can make a huge difference in the outcome.

Frequently Asked Questions

What‘s the statute of limitations for felonies in New Mexico?

There‘s no time limit for prosecuting first-degree murder or first-degree violent felonies. For second-degree felonies, it’s six years; for third– and fourth-degree felonies, five years.

Can I get probation instead of jail time?

It depends on the offense and your criminal history. [Probation is often an option for lower-level felonies and misdemeanors, especially for first-time offenders. Your lawyer can argue for alternatives to incarceration when appropriate.

What if I can’t afford a lawyer?

If you‘re facing charges that could result in jail time, and you financially qualify, the court must appoint a public defender to represent you at no cost. You have a constitutional right to counsel.

Will a conviction affect my gun rights?

Yes, a felony conviction or a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction will prohibit you from possessing firearms under federal law. Some violent misdemeanors also result in a gun ban under New Mexico law.

How can I get my record cleared?

New Mexico allows expungement of some arrest and conviction records after a waiting period. Your lawyer can help determine if you’re eligible and guide you through the process.

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