Charged with a Crime in New Mexico?
Criminal Defense Lawyers Explain Charges and Penalties
A criminal conviction can drastically affect the rest of your life. You may face the possibility of jail time, fines and other penalties, and your reputation may be damaged. Additionally, a conviction may prevent you from finding work and/or housing in the future. Since so much hangs in the balance, you should always work a criminal defense lawyer with a history of success. Even innocence is not always an ironclad defense – law enforcement and prosecutors may not care about your side of the story, but will simply focus on getting a conviction. An attorney can work to enforce your rights and expose any misconduct or negligence that may have led to your arrest. In many cases, a good lawyer can get your charges or penalties reduced, minimizing the negative impact on your life.
If you have been arrested or someone you know was taken into police custody, then you should find a lawyer as quickly as possible. No matter what kinds of charges you face, from a misdemeanor to a felony, finding an attorney you trust is essential. To speak with a local New Mexico criminal lawyer today, consult our local listings.
What Are the Basic Types of Criminal Charges?
The type of criminal charge you face may vary depending on the nature of the alleged crime. Although each state has its own specific classifications, the general types of charges are:
- Infraction. An infraction is the least serious type of charge you can face. In fact, some states handle infractions as civil cases, rather than criminal cases. Traffic violations and other minor offenses usually fall into this category. Jail is generally not a possibility for infractions, so you are not entitled to a jury trial and the state will usually not appoint you a lawyer. However, you can still hire one of your own.
- Petty offense. Some states categorize low-level criminal conduct as petty offenses. This may include illegal acts like gambling, disturbing the peace, public indecency, pollution violations and theft of items of low value.
- Misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is a more serious charge and county courts typically handle these cases. Common misdemeanor charges include assault, criminal trespass, theft and certain drug crimes, including possession and sale.
- Felony. This is the most serious type of criminal charge and state and/or federal courts usually handle these cases. Common felonies include murder, kidnapping, sexual assault, robbery, vehicular homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary and certain drug crimes.
In some cases, a criminal defense lawyer can negotiate on your behalf with the prosecution to reduce the severity of the charges you face. If the court reduces your charge from a low-level felony to a misdemeanor, for example, then the repercussions you face may be much less serious.
What Is the Penalty for a Misdemeanor in New Mexico?
Each state has its own system for classifying misdemeanor and felony charges, and penalties may vary as well. The general penalties you may face for different types of criminal charges in New Mexico are:
- Petty Misdemeanor. Simple battery, shoplifting items with a value under $250, graffiti (property damage under $1,000), and disorderly conduct are examples of petty misdemeanors. The sentence for a petty misdemeanor in New Mexico can never be more than six months in jail and/or a fine up to $500.
- Misdemeanor. Domestic violence, shoplifting items with a value over $250 but less than $500, trespassing on private property, or possession of drug paraphernalia are all considered pure misdemeanors. The sentence for a misdemeanor in New Mexico can never be more than one year in jail or a fine up to $1,000, or both.
What Is the Penalty for a Felony in New Mexico?
Like misdemeanors, each state has its own system for what qualifies as a felony and what penalties may result from a conviction. In New Mexico, possible felony charges and penalties include:
- Capital Felony. Premeditated murder, felony murder (murder committed during the commission or attempted commission of a felony), aggravated criminal sexual penetration, and “depraved mind” murder are all capital felonies. A capital crime is punishable by life in prison or life in prison without any possibility of parole.
- First Degree Felony. Certain murder charges, criminal sexual penetration of a minor and other serious sexual crimes, kidnapping, and robbery while armed with a deadly weapon are all first degree felonies. A first degree felony is punishable by up to eighteen years in prison and a fine up to $15,000.
- Second Degree Felony. Robbery, shooting at or from a motor vehicle, sexual exploitation of a minor (manufacture of child pornography), and drug trafficking (manufacturing, selling or possession with intent to sell illegal substances) are second degree felonies. For a second degree felony, the court can impose up to nine years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
- Third Degree Felony. Voluntary manslaughter, aggravated battery, some sex crimes, and aggravated stalking. A court can sentence a defendant convicted of a third degree felony up to three years in prison and a fine up to $5,000.
- Fourth Degree Felony. Involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, burglary, graffiti (property damage over $1,000), and shoplifting items with a value between $500 and $2,500 are all fourth degree felonies. A defendant convicted of a fourth degree felony in New Mexico faces up to eighteen months in prison and a fine up to $5,000.
Need a New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyer? We Can Help
If you are facing any level of criminal charge, then a qualified lawyer may be essential to protecting your future. Additionally, if someone you know is currently in police custody, then you may wish to reach out to a lawyer on his or her behalf. To find a New Mexico criminal defense lawyer in your area, then consult our attorney listings. If you have general question about criminal law or certain charges, then do not hesitate to ask the lawyers.