New Mexico Criminal Defense Attorney
BASICS OF CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS
Don’t think that the criminal process is exactly like shows such as Law & Order and Perry Mason. Reality is much more complicated.
The criminal process in New Mexico differs depending on the type of charge, the seriousness of the charge (i.e. misdemeanor or felony), the court, the judge, etc. For example, unlike misdemeanor charges (person is usually arrested), for felonies, the process begins with the filing of a complaint in magistrate (metro) court with or without an arrest, or with a grand jury indictment filed directly in district court. In both instances, the prosecution must show that a crime has been committed and there is cause to believe the defendant committed the crime when filing a charge.
A New Mexico Criminal Defense Attorney involved early in the criminal process may be able to have the charges dismissed at this early stage of the process.
After filing of the complaint or summon/arrest warrant to appear in court, the defendant’s first court appearance is during the arraignment, where the judge will inform about the charges, set condition(s) of release and, if necessary, appoint an attorney.
The defendant then enters a plea of guilty or not guilty.
Generally, the prosecution and defense:
- Exchange relevant information (discovery), interview witnesses and defense conducts an investigation
- File pretrial motions to dismiss the charges or prevent evidence from being presented during trial;
- Reach a plea agreement; or,
- Conference with the prosecutor to resolve the matter without trial.
Defendants generally have a right to trial by a jury. The prosecution and defense will select a jury. Each side presents its case during trial. The jury deliberates and usually returns a verdict of guilty or not guilty.
If found guilty, the defendant is sentenced. Misdemeanors carry between six months to a year imprisonment and fines. Felonies carry imprisonment in excess of one year and fines.
Defendants have the right to an appeal, which must be filed within 30 days after the judgment or order is filed. A New Mexico Criminal Defense Attorney may argue that there were mistakes of law that hurt the defendant’s case.
Contacting a New Mexico Criminal Defense Attorney
For more information, contact a New Mexico criminal defense attorney with Twohig Law Firm at (505) 898-0400.