Domestic violence charges have numerous penal consequences in the criminal courts. There are also potential consequences through the civil family law courts. In addition, the greatest consequences may not be from any penalties imposed by the courts, but the collateral consequences of a finding of domestic violence.
Often times, there will be domestic violence charges pending in criminal court while a domestic abuse action under the New Mexico Family Violence Protection Act will be pending in family court. Both must be addressed and both have fairly serious possible consequences, including the collateral consequences mentioned above.
The Albuquerque Attorneys at Collins & Collins, P.C. handle domestic violence and abuse cases in both the civil and criminal courts with most of our cases in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho.
We welcome your call or online contact. In the meantime, we hope the information provided on our website and domestic violence sections of our Criminal Law Blog is helpful to your understanding of the issues, laws, processes and procedures of domestic violence charges in New Mexico.
Most Domestic Violence Charged as Misdemeanor
The term misdemeanor covers a wide variety of offenses. The key aspect of a misdemeanor is that the maximum possible jail time is one year.
The most common misdemeanor charge other than DWI is battery or assault against a household member, more commonly referred to as domestic violence.
Like all misdemeanors, misdemeanor domestic violence convictions carry maximum jail time of one year. However, you should keep in mind that misdemeanor domestic violence is often charged with numerous counts. Each count is subject to one year jail time with consecutive sentencing. In other words, there is potential jail time of much more than one year on a domestic violence incident.
Worse yet, misdemeanor domestic violence charges can quickly escalate to felony domestic violence charges.
Felony Domestic Violence
Felony charges by definition carry much greater sentences than misdemeanors. Felony domestic violence charges can arise in a number of ways.
Typically, felony domestic violence is charged with other crimes such as kidnapping, rape, false imprisonment, criminal sexual contact, aggravated battery with great bodily harm, and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, among others.
In addition, repeated incidents of domestic violence can be charged as a felony. In addition, felony aggravated stalking charges are often brought for the violation of orders of protection issued by the family law court and/or violations of no-contact orders issued by the criminal court.
Each of these charges carries very significant felony sentencing under New Mexico law. These Felony Sentencing Guidelines set the maximum and minimum penalties for each crime. These guidelines will determine the maximum possible penalties for your charges.
Early Intervention Programs
Whether jail time is ordered is a unique determination in each case. The courts tend to prefer treatment rather than jail if there are no prior offenses and a person is motivated to avoid any future incidents of domestic violence.
Most courts have an Early Intervention Program for misdemeanor first time domestic violence offenders. To be eligible, you must have no prior domestic violence history, no history of drug or alcohol offenses, and no prior felony charges.
If you are eligible and willing to enter the program, Early Intervention Programs involve anger management, domestic violence counseling, drug and alcohol counseling, and parenting classes where deemed necessary.
Upon successful completion of Early Intervention, the criminal charges against you may be dismissed.
Pre-Prosecution Programs for Felony Charges
Felony charges are more difficult and require a case by case analysis to determine if there are possibilities for early resolution short of a felony conviction and sentencing. If there are, these will come in the form of pre-prosecution programs.
Keep in mind that there are far fewer options for felony charges and even pre-prosecution can have very serious and onerous terms of probation. The options depend on a number of considerations including the facts of the case, the severity of the charges, prior criminal history and most importantly prior history of violence and domestic violence.
Each of these considerations will be factored into any considerations of pre-prosecution probation as well as sentencing in the event of violations.
Do Not Delay – The Stakes are High!
Like any criminal charge, it is important to get started early on the defense of domestic violence charges. Delay may result in missed opportunities for the most effective defense of the charges.
It is important to get an experienced domestic violence attorney involved as soon as possible. If you cannot afford an attorney, then you should immediately contact the Public Defender.
The stakes are far too high to delay! Contact us for a free case review.