When talking about the injustice of the criminal justice system, one of the first places to look is the prisons. To address prisons, one way to approach is through probation and parole which seems more geared toward filling prison beds than rehabilitation. This is in fact no different than prisons themselves and the New Mexico criminal justice system on the whole.

However, probation/parole officers have enormous power over the freedom of probationers/parolees. Some might argue they have unfettered power. With this, there is simply no way to avoid abuses when that power is in the wrong hand.

The problem begins with the subjective terms of probation/parole which allow for discretionary enforcement, arbitrary enforcement and/or malignant enforcement of the terms. With discretionary or subjective terms of probation/parole, a probationer or parolee is at the whim of his or her supervising officer. Whim is never a good thing especially when it is in any way related to imprisonment.

Probation/Parole Subject to Abuse

A review of the standard terms of probation and parole will show that many of the terms are discretionary and subjective. In other words, a motivated probation or parole officer can find a reason to violate the person for even slight technical violations. A malignant officer could not only find reasons but generate reasons to violate a person’s probation or parole. In fact, there are a significant number of inmates in New Mexico prisons right now on minor technical violations. Due the discretionary nature of the terms of probation/parole, we as New Mexicans have idea or even any way of knowing whether reincarceration was fair and justified. We must simply take the word of the probation/parole officers. I frankly have a problem with that.

The system is not geared toward keeping inmates from returning. It is just the opposite. It is far too easy to send someone back to prison.

Discretion is no Basis for Justice

The standard terms include highly discretionary terms. The first regarding reporting to the probation or parole office is actually probably the most problematic of all stating:

Reporting: I will report to my Probation/Parole Officer as often as required and will submit completed and truthful written reports as required by my Probation/Parole Officer. All communication with my Probation/Parole Officer will be truthful and accurate and I will promptly reply to any correspondence or communication I may receive from the Probation Officer.

The next very problematic term which is subject to abuse relates to associations, friendships, even family members;

Association: I will not associate with any person identified by my Probation/Parole Officer as being detrimental to my Probation supervision, which may include persons having a criminal record, other probationers and parolees, and victims or witnesses of my crime or crimes.

The next is equally prone to abuse should a probation officer see it fit to abuse it:

Supervision Level: I will follow all orders and instructions of my Probation/Parole Officer including actively participating in and successfully completing any level of supervision and/or treatment program, which may include Community Corrections, ISP, Electronic Monitoring or other supervision/treatment program, as deemed appropriate by the Probation/Parole Officer.

The problem with these terms is that they are extremely difficult to comply with under the best of circumstances. They are impossible to meet with an abusive probation or parole officer.

Little Recourse in Court

When there is an abusive probation or parole officer, there is little for a defendant to do. The courts will almost always side with the probation or parole officer. After all, how can the court trust a convict. The presumptions against the former inmate are extremely difficult to overcome.

In addition, imagine trying to gather evidence on behalf of the probationer or parolee for a violation of any of the above. It really is the probation/parole officer’s word against the former inmate/convict. More than that the probation/parole officer establishes the rules, i.e. “as deemed appropriate by the Probation/Parole Officer”. How do you think this might turn out? When we are talking about locking people up, there are countless collateral consequences to the inmate, the family and if that is not enough for taxpayers. Is it too much to ask that there be very well-defined rules?

Rules Matter

Discretionary rules are not rules. They are opportunities for abuse. They are opportunities to feed the monster that is the criminal justice system. They are opportunities for profits. They might even be as trivial as the desire of a probation/parole officer to lessen a workload. They might also be an opportunity to express racism, other bias or just an authoritarian personality.

There should be no room for judgement on the part of probation/parole officers. There should be rules, they should be well defined and they should be followed by all including the supervising officers.

The House of Representatives voted on May 29, 2014 to defund DEA raids on medical marijuana in those states with legalized medical marijuana. This is certainly a step in the right direction. However, it is not enough.  The marijuana laws and penalties for violation remain largely unchanged.

Passed with Bi-Partisan Support

The amendment which would defund the DEA raids was surprisingly introduced by a Republican, Representative Dana Rohrabacher of California. Equally surprisingly, the bill passed with 49 Republican votes.  This is perhaps the most promising aspect of the Amendment.

The Amendment relates strictly to medical marijuana. The Republican support is certainly a welcome development but it remains to be seen where these same Republicans will stand on further reforms to marijuana laws.

Limited to Medical Marijuana

The Amendment reads:

“None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin, to prevent such States from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

Folks should not read more into this than what it is which is a basically a tacit validation of medical marijuana through budget measures. It does not address the ongoing war on marijuana at the federal level and all but 2 states. While it is legal in Colorado and Washington, people continue to go to jail and prison in the remaining states even for possession of small quantities.

Amendment Does Not Address Scheduling of Marijuana

The biggest shortcoming  is the fact that the Amendment does not address the biggest problem with marijuana laws at the state and federal levels which is the classification of marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance. Even New Mexico which has relatively enlightened marijuana laws continues the Schedule I classification.

What is remarkable is that the very definition of Schedule I controlled substance turns on the lack of medical use, “Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse….”

Marijuana’s schedule I classification puts it right alongside heroin, LSD, and meth. This is the case even though President Obama himself has acknowledged it is no worse than alcohol. Likewise, he acknowledges the unfairness of these laws in the fact that millions of Americans are in violation of the law while only a poor unlucky few face often  harsh and excessive punishment.

The fact that the House by passing the amendment has basically acknowledged the medical use of marijuana flies in the face of the continuing Schedule I classification. And it is the Schedule I classification that continues to wreak havoc on the lives and families of otherwise law abiding citizens.

However, rescheduling of marijuna will require more than a budget item reduction.

The Amendment is Just a Budget Item

As suggested, the Amendment is simply a budget item.  As such, there is nothing stopping the funding from being reinstated. This could happen in the next Congress.  It could happen next month.

Like the policy statements from the Department of Justice on marijuana, medical marijuana, state’s rights… it is subject to change.

It is Not Enough!

Yes, it is step in the right direction but it falls woefully short of rationalized marijuana laws. The Amendment does not address recreational marijuana,  it does not address the disastrous Schedule I classification, it does not address the pattern of profiling of Colorado and Washington license plates by other states.

The Amendment will have little effect on the ongoing prosecution and incarceration of Americans for marijuana law violations. This is equally so of the stated policies of the Department of Justice regarding marijuana prosecution in those states that have legalized medical marijuana and/or recreational altogether.

It is most definitely promising to see some progress. But the laws largely remain the same. The penalties for violations remain the same. And make no mistake; policy no matter how often and how forcefully it is cited is just policy. It is not law.  Like policy, budget items are by no means permanent.

The messages being sent out by the President, the Justice Department and now Congress in the minds of many condones marijuana use.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  In fact, these messages because they have little girth behind them could do more harm than good as folks are lured into a sense of security from prosecution.

The New Mexico Delinquency Act creates three different types of juvenile offenders. The juvenile criminal offender‘s classification is very important, because it determines whether they may be tried as an adult. This in turn will determine the possible penalties they can receive.

A “serious youthful offender” is a child from 15 to 18 years old that is charged with first-degree murder. Once charged with first degree murder, they are no longer a juvenile under the law and are automatically sentenced as adults if they are convicted.

A “youthful offender” is a child aged 14 to 18 and found guilty of specified felony offenses (like second degree murder, assault with intent to commit violent felony, kidnapping, aggravated battery, criminal sexual penetration and robbery); who has three prior, separate felony convictions in the past three; or is 14 and found guilty of first degree murder. A youthful offender may receive either a juvenile or adult sanction.

Finally, a “delinquent offender” is a child that commits a less serious crime. The child is tried in Children‘s Court under the Children‘s Court Rules. A delinquent offender will receive juvenile sanctions under the Children‘s Code.

A recent case before the New Mexico Court of Appeals, New Mexico v. Nanco, examined whether a child charged with murder but only found guilty of a lesser crime should receive credit for the time they serve before sentencing.

The defendant was a fifteen-year-old who was arrested because police believed he was involved in a fatal shooting. He was charged with one count of first-degree murder and two counts of tampering with evidence related to the shooting. Due to his age and charges, the defendant was classified as a serious youthful offender and tried as an adult. After a trial, he was found not guilty of first-degree murder and one of the evidence tampering charges. However, the jury found him guilty of voluntary manslaughter and tampering with evidence.

The defendant‘s charges meant that his classification would be changed to a delinquent offender. Under New Mexico law, a serious youthful offender would be entitled to a credit for the time served prior to sentencing, but a youthful offender or a delinquent offender would not. In New Mexico, juveniles do not receive credit for time served. The defendant argued that he should receive credit for the time served, because he was initially categorized as a serious youthful offender. The court disagreed.

The New Mexico statute allowing pre-sentence credit specifically states that the credit applies against a sentence. However, a delinquent offender, like the defendant, is not “convicted” or “sentenced.” Under New Mexico law, the defendant was “adjudicated” and received a “disposition.” Since the defendant was a juvenile and was not sentenced, the pre-sentence credit law cannot apply to him.

In addition, New Mexico seeks to rehabilitate juveniles in the criminal justice system. In order to do so, juveniles are treated differently from adults. One important difference is the way consequences are determined, with the possibility that a sentence can be cut short or extended based upon the needs of the child and the public. By allowing pre-sentence credit, the juvenile‘s rehabilitation could be cut short at a critical time, harming both the child and the public at large.

The juvenile criminal process is somewhat different than the adult criminal process. Because of the differences, it is typically beneficial have an attorney experienced in the juvenile criminal courts. If your child is involved in the juvenile criminal courts in the Albuquerque area, feel free to contact us at Collins & Collins, P.C.

DISCLAIMER

Related Reading:
Timely Preliminary Hearings for Juveniles Facing Adult Charges in New Mexico
Youthful Offender, No-Bills and Time Limits in Juvenile Criminal Cases
Do Minors Have Broader Rights Under the 4th Amendment Than Adults?

Collins & Collins, P.C.
Albuquerque Attorneys

According to the 2005 Survey of Violence Victimization in New Mexico, one out of every four adults in New Mexico will be a victim of domestic violence during their lifetime. In 2007, there were 22,286 domestic violence incidents reported to law enforcement within the state.

Domestic violence is a serious crime with severe and far-reaching consequences for both the victim and the alleged perpetrator. For purposes of this article, we are focusing on the consequences for the alleged perpetrator.

Aside from serious criminal penalties, there are several many other consequences to a domestic violence conviction and even to allegations of domestic violence. These are often referred to as collateral consequences.

Domestic violence charges can follow an individual around for a very long time and become a factor in several unexpected situations. Findings of domestic violence can have disastrous immigration consequences for non-citizens. A finding of domestic violence can also impact the right to carry a firearm. Additionally, a domestic violence conviction can affect an individual‘s employment, security clearances, student loan, and scholarship eligibility.

Domestic violence charges are especially serious for non-citizens. Even in the absence of a domestic violence conviction, non-citizens may face deportation, loss of immigration status, and future inadmissibility into the U.S. In many cases, admission of guilt alone may trigger deportation or loss of immigration status. Making the situation even more difficult for non-citizens, Early Intervention Programs, Conditional Discharges, and Deferred Sentences that ultimately end in a dismissal of charges may require a defendant to admit guilt. Since admitting guilt may lead to deportation and other negative immigration consequences, even otherwise very favorable outcomes are not available to the non-citizen.

Under both New Mexico and federal law, a person convicted of domestic violence may not possess a license to carry a firearm. Under federal law, the loss of the license is permanent, and each violation of this law carries a possible prison sentence of up to ten years. This can be especially damaging if the defendant‘s job requires carrying a firearm, like police officers, members of the armed forces, or armed guards. A domestic violence conviction also bars an individual from hunting with a firearm.

A conviction for domestic violence will have other serious employment consequences. A growing number of employers conduct background checks on prospective employees and are generally reluctant to hire an individual convicted of a crime. It is estimated that up to two thirds of employers will not hire an individual with a criminal record. Worse yet for a those charged with domestic violence, a finding of domestic violence may itself disqualify the person for many jobs.

Furthermore, a conviction of domestic violence may trigger the revocation of a number of state-issued and/or professional licenses or make an individual ineligible to obtain a license. These may include medical, nursing, contractor, education, real estate, or several types of care licenses. An individual‘s government security clearance or ability to obtain clearance may also be compromised by allegations of domestic violence, especially if the particular clearance requires the individual to carry a firearm.

Domestic violence convictions will affect an individual‘s eligibility to obtain a student loan or scholarships in many cases. Many public and private institutions ask scholarship and student loan applicants whether they have been convicted of a domestic violence crime and consider it a factor when making a decision. Other scholarships, including some ROTC scholarships specifically make individuals who have a domestic violence conviction ineligible.

If you are being accused of domestic violence, it is important to understand and consider all of these collateral consequences as your case proceeds. It is especially important to understand these issues when deciding whether or not to accept a plea offer. An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to explain this to you and to help guide you through a very difficult process.

DISCLAIMER

Related Reading:

Domestic Violence Early Intervention Programs in New Mexico
Armed Forces Eligibility Consequences of Criminal Convictions
Firearms and Domestic Violence: A Toxic Mix

Collins & Collins, P.C.
Albuquerque Attorneys

It is not unusual for a person to be arrested but never charged. It is also not unusual to be arrested and charged, but not convicted. When either of these situations arises, among the first concerns is the effect that the arrest will have on future employment.

The case-law and the EEOC make clear that with few exceptions employers are prohibited from blanket discrimination on the basis of arrests records alone. Such discrimination would constitute a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The reasoning behind this is clear.

It is has been well established that arrest records alone are not a reliable indicator that the person has actually committed a crime. In addition, and related to the first, it is clear also that discrimination based upon arrest records alone has a highly discriminatory impact on minorities, particularly blacks and Hispanics. As such, these practices are highly discouraged.

There are some exceptions to this prohibition. However, the exceptions are fairly narrow and the burdens are on the employer to prove a legitimate basis for using an arrest record to justify a hiring or other employment decision. The EEOC sets forth the business justification exception with a thorough discussion in its report, “Policy Guidance on the Consideration of Arrest Records in Employment Decisions under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”

Though business justifications may justify consideration of arrests records in hiring or other employment decisions, the burden is on the employer to show that the practice is necessary for its business operations. The employer must both show that the arrest indicates culpability and that the basis for the arrest has some rational relationship to the employment position at issue. If either is missing, then an arrest alone cannot form the basis of an adverse employment decision.

In New Mexico, the second criterion is perhaps the most problematic since many jobs here require certain levels of security clearance. However, other jobs might pose problems as well such as cashiering, banking, bookkeeping, accounting or other such jobs where the arrest was for theft or other crimes of dishonesty. There are certainly many other situations where the arrest if indicative of guilt would fall within the second prong of the business justification exceptions.

Though consideration of arrest in employment decisions may fall within the exception, there remain limitations. First, and foremost, there cannot be a blanket policy of excluding employment for anyone with an arrest record. This would most certainly violate the law. Instead, the employer must make additional inquiries into the circumstances of the arrest. The employer must then determine that the arrest in fact indicates guilt and that guilt of such an offense has some bearing on job performance. The burden is on the employer to prove both these elements.

All this being said (i.e. employers cannot have a blanket policy against hiring those with arrest records, the burden is on the employer, the burden is high and so on) the problem for employees in this position is that it may be hard to prove. More to the point, it may be very expensive to prove which may make obtaining an attorney quite difficult in the absence of some very compelling circumstances.

DISCLAIMER

A charge of domestic violence in New Mexico is always very serious. There are numerous and severe consequences for a domestic violence conviction.

A charge of for felony domestic violence steps up the seriousness and the possible consequences.

Most domestic violence is charged as a misdemeanor. As a misdemeanor, the maximum possible jail time is one year. Once a case is charged as felony domestic violence, the penalties are greatly enhanced beginning at 18 months possible prison time on a 4th degree felony, 3 years on a 3rd degree felony, 9 years on a 2nd and 18 years on a 1st degree felony.

As a felony, the prosecutors are typically much more aggressive in prosecution as well. For instance, in minor misdemeanor domestic violence where there are no injuries or weapons, the prosecutor will not pursue the alleged victim‘s cooperation quite as aggressively as in a felony. In a felony domestic violence where there are injuries, weapons or other felonies involved, the prosecutor or district attorney will often be significantly more persistent in tracking down the alleged victim and getting the alleged victim to court for trial.

There are a number of ways to charge felony domestic violence. Perhaps the most common is aggravated assault against a household member which is classified as a fourth degree felony. This charge requires, “(1) unlawfully assaulting or striking at a household member with a deadly weapon; or (2) willfully and intentionally assaulting a household member with intent to commit any felony.”

The weapons portion seems straightforward enough. However, this language can be broadly construed by the prosecutor. The mere presence of some deadly weapons such as a knives or guns even in the absence of a threat may trigger this charge. In addition, the term deadly weapon itself may be stretched to include otherwise innocuous items depending on the circumstances and the alleged intent of the defendant. And then of course the construction of “intent” is always a slippery matter.

The second part of the definition of the offense can be even more perplexing and frustrating to defendants. The “intent to commit any felony” covers a lot of ground. It is not uncommon to see the alleged facts stretched to logical extreme in order to meet the requirements of this element. Though there are countless ways this charge might arise, the most frequent are kidnapping and false imprisonment. These are topics unto themselves but suffice it to say that the commonly held definition of these terms is frequently only remotely related to the facts of a particular case.

In short, there are countless ways to arrive at felony domestic violence charges. The basis for a felony domestic violence charge is most often clear from the alleged facts. On other occasions, the charge can be quite a stretch from the facts. Unfortunately, however one gets there, the charges are very serious and the possible consequences quite severe.

Collins & Collins, P.C.
Albuquerque Attorneys

DISCLAIMER

The first and among the most serious consequences a person arrested for DWI/DUI will face is the revocation of their driving privileges through Motor Vehicles Division (MVD).

In fact, a DWI driver has only 10 days from the date of arrest to send in a Request for License Revocation Hearing to MVD. Failure to send in the request results in automatic revocation.

There is much confusion with DWI drivers about the jurisdictional issues between the MVD revocation and the criminal DWI proceeding. In fact, the two are completely separate. In other words, you can win at the MVD hearing and still lose at trial in the criminal proceeding. Likewise, you can lose at the MVD hearing and win at trial.

Both MVD and the criminal court have the authority to revoke the DWI offender‘s driving privileges. The length of the revocation depends on the number of DWI convictions and whether the charge was aggravated DWI.

In addition to the overlapping jurisdiction over driving privileges, the period of revocation may be different between MVD and the criminal court. For example, on a first time simple DWI (non-aggravated DWI), the revocation by MVD is 6 months. Upon conviction in the criminal proceeding, there is a mandatory one year interlock requirement.

With both the MVD revocation and the interlock requirement imposed as a result of the criminal conviction, driving without an interlock and an interlock license results in criminal charges for driving on a revoked license. A conviction for driving on a revoked license carries up to one year in jail.

The criminal court may impose he revocation from the time of the conviction. The MVD hearing often occurs much earlier than the criminal trial since it must be set by law within 90 days of the arrest. The court may, but does not have to, allow for credit for the MVD interlock period. Therefore, the actual revocation and interlock period may stretch beyond one year even on a simple first DWI.

Finally, the burdens of proof are different between the two hearings. The recent case of Glenn v. MVD has significantly lessened the burdens at the MVD hearing. Under the Glenn case, the state need not even prove the stop was legal. As a result of this case, the MVD hearing is even more formality than before since the State need only show the hearing was held within 90 days of arrest and the driver blew .08 or above or refused to blow.

The burdens are no better in the criminal proceeding. The State need only show (argue) that the driver‘s ability to drive was “impaired to the slightest degree” by alcohol. This is really no standard at all. On the upside, the State is supposed to show that the driver was legally stopped. This again is a fairly low burden since a reason can always almost always be found for pulling over a driver.

The bottom line is that a DWI seriously jeopardizes driving privileges. The driver and his or her attorney must run a gauntlet of hearings where the burdens are seriously stacked against them. In fact, it is pretty rare that a DWI arrest will not result in the revocation of driving privileges in some fashion unless the officers simply do not show up to fight.

And the moral to the story is “Don‘t Drink and Drive.” It is not worth it.

In the case of criminal charges in New Mexico, a conditional discharge is often a very positive outcome. A conditional discharge will result in the eventual dismissal of the charges.

A conditional discharge allows for the disposition of the criminal charges without an adjudication of guilt. This means that the defendant is never found guilty of any crime so long as all conditions of probation are met.

However, to get a conditional discharge, the defendant must enter a plea of guilty or no-contest. In the event of a violation of the terms of the conditional discharge, the plea then turns into a conviction.

The conditional discharge does not wipe the record clean. Though there is no conviction, there will always remain a record of the charges and the proceedings. As such, anyone doing a background check on the defendant will see that the charges were filed and dismissed.

Because there was no conviction, many defendants believe that the record should be expunged. The mere fact of the charges can have very serious consequences in the future. Unfortunately, despite the fact of the dismissal, the New Mexico Courts have held consistently the right to expungement to be very limited.

The issue came up most recently in State v. C.L. State v. C.L. addressed in depth the right to an expungement. In State v. C.L., a showing of adverse employment consequences due to the court record was expressly held to be insufficient for an expungement. Under the New Mexico Court of Appeals ruling in C.L., an expungement is possible only in case of a finding of unlawful arrest or unlawful conviction.

Unfortunately, a conditional discharge meets neither of these criteria. The conditional discharge is meant as a second chance of sorts. However, a conditional discharge will not completely wipe the record clean. This is possible only through expungement which is difficult and rare to put it mildly.

Collins & Collins, P.C.
Albuquerque Attorneys

DISCLAIMER

Stalking is a common domestic violence charge in New Mexico. The definition of stalking under the New Mexico statutes is fairly broad allowing prosecutors great latitude in bringing stalking charges.

Under the statute, stalking is defined to include any of the following acts on more than one occasion:

1) following a person in a place other than the residence of the alleged stalker,
2) placing another under surveillance by being present outside the person‘s residence, school, workplace or motor vehicle or any other place frequented by that person, other than the residence e of the alleged stalker, or
3) harassing another person.

Each and every element of the definition can be read very broadly to include some fairly innocuous behavior. A first time stalking offense is a misdemeanor. Under the prior law, a 3rd offense was a 4th degree felony.

However, due to the growing concern with domestic violence, the law was amended in 1997 to make a second offense a 4th degree felony. In addition, aggravated stalking may be charged for knowingly violating a protective order or no contact order.

Aggravated stalking is also a 4th degree felony. Aggravated stalking consists of knowingly violating protective order, violating a no contact order under conditions of release, stalking while in possession of a deadly weapon, or stalking a person under 16 years of age.

A 4th degree felony carries very serious penalties with possible jail time of 18 months and fines up to $5000 for each count. Most prosecutors will charge the offense of aggravated stalking only in cases involving real and serious danger to a victim. Others may err on the side of caution and charge it whenever the statute allows. Then there are those prosecutors that will charge everything conceivably possible under the alleged facts in order to gain strategic advantage. And felony charges most definitely place enormous plea pressure on a defendant due to the great risks associated with conviction.

To avoid any risk of charges for aggravated stalking, a person under a protective order or no contact order should have absolutely no contact with the alleged victim of any kind. This means avoiding contact even when the alleged victim initiates the contact. Charges under these circumstances are far too common.

The statute reads that a mutual violation “may” constitute a defense. Thus, a mutual violation is not an absolute defense. Nor does a mutual violation prevent the charges from being filed.

In short, it is highly inadvisable to test the boundaries of the statute. In a case of alleged domestic violence or stalking, the defendant should either stay away from the victim, or get the protective order or no contact order lifted. Any other course of action is extremely risky carrying very serious felony consequences.

Collins & Collins, P.C.
Albuquerque Attorneys

DISCLAIMER

Many New Mexico courts, including Albuquerque‘s Metropolitan Court, offer a domestic violence early intervention program for first time offenders.

In order for a candidate to enter the program, the defendant, district attorney and presiding judge must all agree to a referral to the Early Intervention Program.

Assuming that the case is referred to the Early Intervention Program, the criminal case is stayed and is now basically in limbo. The case is taken off the presiding judge‘s criminal docket and transferred to the judge who oversees the Early Intervention Program.

An Early Intervention Program staff member interviews the candidate to ensure that the program is a good fit. The staff member is interviewing the person for two primary reasons. First, it must be determined that the person is voluntarily entering the program. Second, the defendant must admit some wrongdoing and that counseling would be beneficial.

An admission of wrongdoing is not the same as admitting guilt. Neither is it admitting to the allegations of the alleged victim. It is simply an admission of some wrongful behavior which would indicate and benefit from counseling.

On the other hand, a person who denies any wrongdoing at all is not a good candidates for the program. In the absence of some admission of wrongful behavior and the need to change the behavior, the defendant will not be admitted to the program.

Admission to the program carries with it a minimum of 6 month of supervised probation. While on probation, the person must comply with the a number terms. The standard terms include no further violations of law, no new domestic violence charges, no drugs or alcohol, and the completion of counseling. In addition, the individual must meet with his or her probation officer twice a month for the first 90 days. Depending on progress, this may be reduced to once a month after 90 days.

The goal of the program is for people to develop new relationship skills. As such, the most important part of the program is the completion of counseling. Counseling is provided by private sector domestic violence counseling programs authorized by the Court.

It is said that Domestic Violence is based on power and control not necessarily anger management. Physical abuse, manipulation, verbal abuse and demeaning comments are all forms of degrading and abusive uses of power and control often indicating the presence of and/or risk of domestic violence. Students are taught empathy, personal boundaries and communication skills to prevent future incidents.

The program has a high success rate due in part to the admission requirements. The program has a graduation rate of about 90% and a recidivism rate of only 8%. Not only does the individual benefit from counseling thereby avoiding future charges of domestic violence, completion of the program results in a dismissal of the charges. The value of avoiding conviction and the consequences of a domestic conviction cannot be overstated.

Collins & Collins, P.C.
Albuquerque Attorneys

DISCLAIMER

Albuquerque Personal Injury Attorneys