What are the Standard Conditions of Release in a Domestic Violence Case and Can They be Changed?

Conditions of release are strictly enforced.  Do not simply ignore those that are inconvenient, seek modification.
Conditions of release are strictly enforced. Do not simply ignore those that are inconvenient, seek modification.

There are numerous standard conditions of release that are issued in a misdemeanor domestic violence case.   Conditions for felony cases can be much more extensive.

Some of these conditions are unworkable for work and family.  However, simply ignoring them is not an option.

To protect yourself, you should seek modification. A criminal defense attorney experienced with modification of conditions of release can help.

Some of these may be modified and others may not.  We will address those that may not be modified first.

Some Conditions of Release Cannot be Modified

There are some conditions that cannot and will not be modified by the court.  For the most part these should make sense to most.

Alcohol and Drugs

The most notable and among the most frequently violated condition that cannot be modified is the prohibition on the use of drugs or alcohol.
The first and perhaps the most important, due to the frequent violation, is the prohibited use of alcohol or illegal drugs.

Yes, this does mean no drinking while the case is pending.  It is extremely important to abide by this condition.  The courts and judges in New Mexico (and presumably all states) take this very seriously due to the relationship between alcohol and domestic violence.

The condition does apply to marijuana as well.  Regardless of one’s position on marijuana, the court’s position is that it is an illegal drug and is strictly prohibited as a condition of release.  In fact, this is among the conditions most likely to be violated due to the long period of time that marijuana stays in your system.

Violations of Law

The condition of release prohibiting violations of law is strictly enforced and non-modifiable.

The remaining conditions that cannot be modified, for the most part, involve prohibitions on violating the law.  These conditions are rather common sense based since the prohibitions against violating the law stand for all New Mexico citizens. The difference is that violation of these prohibitions while a domestic violence case is pending may and often do result in jail time until the case is over.

The conditions state that a defendant will not violate State or Federal law, will not drive without a license and will not drive without proof of insurance.  Again, these may not be modified and it is important to abide by them.

Conditions of Release that can be Modified

The non-contact order, travel restrictions and gun ownership are typically the provisions that require modification.

Now for the conditions that may be modified.   These may and should be modified if they are going to be problems with compliance.

We will begin with those that are typically of most concern, the no-contact order, travel restrictions and gun ownership.

Lifting the No-Contact Order

Additional conditions of release can be modified under very strict criteria. First and most frequently, is the modification of the no-contact order. 

Finally, there are a few remaining conditions that may be modified under very strict criteria.  The first is the no-contact order prohibiting contact between the defendant and the alleged victim.  The no-contact order may be modified in limited circumstances through a motion to modify.

Possession of Firearms

Though firearms possession is often required for employment, violation of this condition can still result in very serious consequences.
The second condition that may be modified under limited circumstances is the prohibition against the possession of firearms or deadly weapons.  This one may and must be modified for employment purposes.

In very rare situations, it may be modified for hunters/sportsmen.  This modification does not come up frequently and might be summarily denied.

Travel Restrictions

The restriction on travel outside the county is often unworkable due to work and family obligations. This is very easy to address. Failure to address it can have consequences.

Finally, there is often a restriction on travel outside the county in which the defendant resides.  This can be an impossible provision for the defendant due to work, school and/or family obligations.

Likewise, this condition can severely affect the the family.  As such, New Mexico courts will generally allow the modification of travel conditions based upon need.

Hiring an Attorney

You need not but probably should hire an attorney for your domestic violence case.  You will be held to all court rules and deadlines regardless of whether you have an attorney.

There are two conditions that are issued related to hiring an attorney.  The first states that the defendant will hire an attorney within a specified period of time, usually one week.  The second states that the defendant will keep his or her attorney informed of any change of address.  These are for the protection of the defendant and may be waived.

A defendant does not have to have an attorney.  Though it is generally exceedingly unwise, a defendant may represent him or herself.  In the event that the defendant decides to do this, the second part of the equation is moot.

However, the defendant must then keep the court informed of any change of address.  This is important for notices, such as hearing notices.  The fact that a defendant did not get a notice because of a move will not excuse a failure to appear which will result in a bench warrant.

Seek Legal Counsel for Modification of Conditions of Release

If you are charged with domestic violence, you should discuss these conditions with your attorney.  In particular, you should discuss any potential problems with following these conditions.

Do not assume that necessity will excuse a violation.  To be safe, seek an order from the court modifying the conditions.

If there is a modifiable condition that will cause problems such as travel or firearms related to employment, then speak with your attorney about filing a motion to modify.  You should not assume that because these are valid grounds that a violation will not result in severe consequences.

(505) 242-5958