Domestic Violence charges are taken very seriously in New Mexico. Even though they are typically charged as misdemeanors, the consequences can be pretty serious impacting your rights long into the future. In addition, the charges can quickly escalate to more and more serious penalties and even felony domestic violence charges.
In addition, there are many consequences beyond penal consequences. These are referred to as collateral consequences and relate to employment, gun rights, immigration to name a few. It is important to seek legal guidance immediately. Delays and/or failure to fully understand and appreciate the charges can have pretty severe consequences.
Many Issues and Questions Arise in Domestic Violence Cases
First and foremost, people want to know if they are going to jail.
If you have been charged with Domestic Violence, you probably have many questions and concerns about your case such as:
- Will I go to jail?
- Will I have to post bail?
- What are the conditions of release?
- How do I defend against my charges?
- What are the penalties if I am convicted?
- Will I be permitted to contact the alleged victim?
- What if the alleged victim does not want to press charges?
You may have many other questions as well. Hopefully, many of these will be answered here on our site or on our New Mexico criminal law blog.
If a Domestic Violence Call is Made, Charges will be Filed and One of the Parties Taken from the Scene
Domestic violence calls are made for a variety of reasons. Many times the call is justified. On the other hand, domestic violence calls are often made through ignorance of the consequences of such a call, or for malicious purposes aimed at punishing a spouse or protecting the true aggressor from criminal prosecution.
Unfortunately, once the police are called to the scene, the police will file a criminal complaint. Most of the time, they will take one of the parties into custody. They will not attempt to work through issues at the scene. They are not there for marital counseling. The result is that domestic violence charges are often filed simply because one of the parties inadvisably called the police, not understanding the role of the police once they arrive on the scene.
The Aggressor will Often Make the Call Preemptively
[pullquote]It is not uncommon that the aggressor makes the call to police in order to get the upper hand. Unfortunately, last to call is often first to jail.
On other occasions, the aggressor actually makes the call to the police as a sort of preemptive strike. On many occasions, the police will act upon the initial call arresting and charging the alleged aggressor. They frequently will not even listen to the other side, rewarding the calling party for making the call despite the fact that an innocent person is now facing very serious domestic violence charges.
Then there are the most egregious situations of all where a person calls the police out of sheer malice knowing full well the charges are false. In fact, these can be the most difficult cases of all since someone that will lie to the police will often also lie to the court, the prosecutor and a jury. These cases demand significant legal and investigative efforts in order to protect the wrongfully accused client.
Domestic Violence Cases will not be Dismissed Just Because the Alleged Victim so Wishes
It is long process. It may be necessary to go to trial despite the wishes of the alleged victim.
In short, the police often get it wrong. Many prosecutors now have a policy against dismissing domestic violence no matter what the facts are. It is unfortunate but you should know this as you prepare for the coming months in your case.
It is generally necessary to push the prosecutors all the way to the day of trial to get a reasonable disposition. Your only recourse may be to take the case to trial. If the facts will not convince the prosecutor, then you must present the facts to a jury.
It is long and stressful process. There is little rhyme or reason as the prosecutors apply their blanket policies against dismissing domestic violence charges to all cases, no matter what the facts may be. Knowing what to expect, and preparing for every possibility will help ease the stress of the process to come.
Important Deadlines Come Up Very Quickly!
Missing some deadlines may mean missed defense opportunities.
There are a number of important deadlines. Some mean only inconvenience while missing others may mean a missed opportunity for the defense of the charges.
- If you have not yet been arraigned, most judges will allow you to waiver your arraignment in misdemeanor cases through a Waiver of Appearance. Failure to file the waiver of appearance in time will result in mandatory attendance at the arraignment. You must have an attorney to file a Waiver of Arraignment.
- You have ten days from arraignment (or waiver of arraignment) to excuse the judge presiding in your case with the filing of a Peremptory Recusal. If you miss the deadline, you are stuck with the assigned judge. You may file this without an attorney. However, it is highly advisable to consult with an attorney before recusing a judge. Without counsel, you may jump, as they say, out of the frying pan and into the fire.
It is important to act quickly in a domestic violence case. Once you get past these early deadlines, many other deadlines begin to run. They are very important and are generally for your protection. Delay can result in missed opportunities for your defense.