In New Mexico there are several laws that protect victims from domestic violence crimes. These laws set forth specific penalties for certain violent behaviors. Generally, under New Mexico law a crime may be considered a domestic violence crime if it includes a pattern of controlling behavior directed at an intimate partner or that person's property, family members, animals, or associates.
The primary laws most commonly used to address domestic violence in New Mexico include:
- Family Violence Protection Act,
- Crimes Against Household Members Act, and
- Harassment and Stalking Act.
The New Mexico Family Violence Protection Act creates a cause of action that allows a victim of domestic violence to obtain an order of protection against the household member who committed the abuse. The order of protection prohibits the restrained party from having any contact with the victim. Violation of an order of protection is a misdemeanor.
Crimes Against Household Members Act
The New Mexico Crimes Against Household Members Act creates the crimes of assault and battery when violence is committed against a "household member." Under this law a "household member" includes a spouse or former spouse, a family member including a relative or parent, and anyone with whom the abuser has a continuing personal relationship. It is not necessary that the people live together to be considered a "household member"
Potential criminal charges under this law include criminal charges for assault, aggravated assault, assault with intent to commit a violent felony, battery, and aggravated battery. While the criminal penalties available for these crimes are generally the same as the criminal penalties under the general assault and battery statutes, one reason to proceed under this act is that an officer is permitted to make an arrest without a warrant at the scene of a domestic disturbance if the officer has probable cause to believe that the abuser has committed an assault or battery against a household member.
The Harassment and Stalking Act
The New Mexico Harassment and Stalking Act is different from the Family Violence Protection Act and the Crimes Against Household Members Act in that the victim under this act does not have to be a family member or household member. Under the Harassment and Stalking Act harassment is defined as a pattern of conduct intended to annoy, alarm, or terrorize someone so as to cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress. A conviction for harassment is a misdemeanor.
Stalking is defined as a pattern of conduct that would cause a reasonable person to feel frightened, intimidated or threatened. Stalking is also a misdemeanor for the first offense but is a fourth degree felony for subsequent offenses.
One can also be convicted of aggravated stalking under the Harassment and Stalking Act if the stalker does any of the following:
- Knowingly violates a temporary or permanent order of protection,
- Violates a court order setting conditions of release and bond (i.e. No Contact Order),
- Possesses a deadly weapon, or
- Stalks a victim under the age of sixteen.
Domestic Violence is taken very seriously in New Mexico. The consequences can be severe and the penalties escalate rapidly with each subsequent offense. If you have been charged with domestic violence, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away to insure that your rights are fully protected.
Collateral Consequences of Domestic Violence Findings Can be Worse than Criminal Penalties
Criminal v. Civil Domestic Violence Charges in New Mexico
Domestic Violence Early Intervention Programs in New Mexico