New Mexico Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are facing charges of a serious crime, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you protect your rights as well as inform you of your legal options. At Twohig Law Firm, we provide aggressive, expert representation for our clients and will work hard to minimize your damages and get you the best outcome possible.
UNDERSTANDING THE 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. The length and nature of the trial depends on the type of offense you’re accused of. Whatever the case, a criminal defense lawyer is mandatory.
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. Your New Mexico criminal defense attorney may argue that there were mistakes of law that hurt the defendant’s case.
TWOHIG LAW FIRM CAN HELP YOU WITH YOUR CRIMINAL CASE
Our criminal defense lawyers handle a wide variety of criminal cases:
In New Mexico, homicide charges have different penalties depending on the degree of homicide involved.
- First degree murder: the victim’s death was willful and premeditated, occurred during the commission of another felony, or resulted from reckless behavior conducted with depraved disregard for human life.
- Second degree murder: the victim’s death occurred without provocation, during a quarrel, or in the heat of passion.
- Voluntary manslaughter: the victim died during a quarrel or in the heat of passion.
- Involuntary manslaughter: the victim died by accident due to carelessness or negligence.
Child abuse occurs when a child’s parent, legal guardian, or custodian causes injury or risk of serious physical harm to a child due to inaction or negligence, or inflicts deliberate physical harm to the child. These crimes include the following:
- Sexual abuse
- Committing, permitting, or encouraging prostitution of a child
- Performing sexual acts on a child
- Any non-accidental physical injury
- Assault resulting in physical injury of a child
- Reckless disregard for a child’s life
- Failing to report a missing child
- Abandonment of an infant
- Illegal use of drugs or controlled substances during pregnancy
Drug offenses are associated with the possession and sale of controlled dangerous substances (CDS), under five schedules categorized from most dangerous (Schedule I) to least dangerous (Schedule V). These include the following:
- Possession, delivery, or manufacture of drug paraphernalia
- Possession of CDS without a valid prescription
- Drug trafficking, including manufacturing of any CDS, as well sa sale, distribution, or possession with intent to distribute Schedule I and II CDS.
New Mexico has harsh penalties for driving while intoxicated. If a police officer discovers you’re driving while impaired by alcohol, over-the-counter medications, or prescription drugs, they may arrest you for DWI. Refusal to allow testing for intoxication may result in immediate suspension of your driver’s license for a year.
In New Mexico, sex offenses include the following crimes:
- Forced sexual penetration (i.e. rape)
- Unwanted sexual contact
- Indecent exposure
- Sexual enticement of a child under age 16
- Sexual exploitation of children (including possession of child pornography)
- Kidnapping with intent to commit a sexual offense
- Human trafficking
Assault and battery, while often closely associated, are two different crimes with separate penalties. They include:
- Misdemeanor assault: verbal threats and/or attempting to harm someone.
- Aggravated assault: intentional harm to someone while planning to commit a felony or threatening someone with a deadly weapon.
- Simple battery: unlawfully touching or hitting someone.
- Misdemeanor aggravated battery: physical contact with intent to cause injury.
- Felony aggravated battery: use of a deadly weapon or force to cause or attempt to cause bodily harm.
This is a broad category, that may include the following crimes:
- Burglary: breaking and entering a home or business to commit theft.
- Robbery: use of force or threats of violence to steal something of value from someone.
- Embezzlement: the theft of money or property entrusted to you.
- Fraud: deceiving or manipulating someone to take something of value for personal gain.
- Larceny: the theft of anything of value.
- Money laundering: using the proceeds of criminal activity for lawful purposes.
- Medicare and Medicaid fraud.
Bail is a monetary bond you post based on terms of release set by the court, so you won’t have to stay in jail until your case goes to trial. If you can’t pay your bail, your criminal defense lawyer can recommend a bail bond agency. Typically, the agency will ask for significant percentage of the bail fee upfront before lending you the rest.
Are There Alternatives to Prison?
Yes, though the judge may not have leeway to choose one. Alternatives your criminal defense lawyer may request include the following:
- Probation. You return to your normal life outside jail, with your behavior monitored to ensure your compliance with court orders. The court assigns a probation officer who will present you with a list of probation conditions. You may also receive counseling to help with specific problems; for example, drug counseling. If you violate your probation, you either go to jail or start over with a longer period of probation.
- Fines and Fees. You pay court-ordered fines, court costs, and in some cases, restitution. The court may or may not impose this punishment as well as other penalties, including probation.
- Restitution. You pay for any financial injuries, which may include repair or replacement of property, medical bills, or death services like funerary or cremation costs.
- Community Service. You work within the community for a specified number of hours, doing tasks assigned by the court,. Failure to do so may result in a probation violation and jail time.
- Deferred Sentence. If you’re a first-time offender, the court may defer your punishment. You plead guilty and receive a prison term, but the court defers your sentence until after you’ve completed probation, paid any required fines and fees, completed community service, and/or taken special classes. They then dismiss the case. If you violate your sentencing terms before the end of the deferral period, you will have to serve your prison term.
- Diversion. If you’re a first-time, minor offender, the court may drop the charges if you agree to pay fines and fees, complete community service, and/or participate in counseling within a specified period.
An Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
If you’re facing a criminal trial, you have the right to a private criminal defense lawyer who will fight to secure your acquittal. A court-appointed attorney may not care enough to put up a good fight.
Contact a New Mexico Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are facing criminal charges, a lot is at stake. At Twohig Law Firm, we believe that each of our clients deserve to be treated with compassion and dedication. We will focus on your needs, as well as develop a solid defense strategy. For more information, contact a New Mexico criminal defense attorney today at (505) 898-0400.