Are Stun Guns Legal in New Mexico?
Stun guns offer a less deadly option for individuals who want a weapon to defend themselves. The market includes a wide range of different stun guns, from taser-like devices used by law enforcement to simple shock devices. According to a 2011 Department of Justice report cited by USA Today, taser-like weapons carry less than 0.25% risk of death. Therefore, stun guns provide an alternative for anyone concerned about causing the death of someone else, even for self-defense purposes. Despite these benefits, some states outlaw the use of stun guns by everyday citizens. Specifically, Hawaii and Rhode Island prohibit the use of stun guns.
Since a stun gun isn’t considered a firearm, the rules can differ from the state’s firearm laws, creating more confusion for individuals seeking personal protection. If you have questions about where stun guns are legal and whether you can legally carry one, contact the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices today. We can offer the advice you need to stay compliant with New Mexico’s stun gun laws.
Castle Doctrine vs. Duty to Retreat
Like many other states, New Mexico does not prohibit normal citizens from purchasing and possessing a stun gun. In fact, New Mexico’s criminal statutes don’t reference stun guns at all. Still, that doesn’t mean you are free to use your stun gun at any time or in any way you wish. Clearly, stun guns do cause physical pain, and you cannot go around using the device for fun or get revenge on your foe.
The most common use for such weapons is self-defense. Instead of using a fatal shot from a firearm to protect oneself, many people prefer the idea of using a stun gun to immobilize anyone trying to harm them. States typically subscribe to one of two self-defense theories that apply to the use of any weapon, including stun guns.
Under the Castle Doctrine, you can use deadly force against anyone attempting to gain entry into your house or car. However, you must have a reasonable belief that the intruder intended to commit a violent felony while on your property. Under this doctrine, no duty to retreat exists for the homeowner.
Duty to Retreat Doctrine
Under this legal theory, the state imposes a duty to retreat from your attacker if possible under the circumstances. In other words, if it is possible, you must retreat from the attack before you are allowed to use force against the attacker. Additionally, you can only use the level of force necessary to counter the threat, and you must hold a sincere belief that your use of force was necessary and the attack was imminent.
New Mexico Laws
New Mexico opted for the Castle Doctrine, giving individuals a presumption that deadly force is necessary when someone intrudes onto their property. New Mexico’s General Jury Instructions on Self-Defense (UJI 14-5190) states, “A person who is threatened with an attack need not retreat. In the exercise of his right to self-defense, he may stand his ground and defend himself.”
Based on the level of harm caused by stun guns, they typically don’t qualify as deadly weapons. So when discussing stun guns, we are concerned with laws regarding non-deadly force. However, it’s important to note that you never know how someone’s body will react to an electric shock.
New Mexico authorizes the use of non-deadly force after you meet the following requirements:
- Someone presented the appearance of immediate danger of bodily harm to you or another person as a result of an unlawful act;
- You were actually put in fear of immediate bodily harm to yourself or another and used non-deadly force to prevent that harm;
- You used the amount of force you reasonably believed was necessary to prevent the harm; and
- A reasonable person would have reacted the same way you did under the same circumstances.
Additionally, New Mexico allows the use of non-deadly force to defend one’s property. Based on the statistics surrounding stun guns, the court would likely consider the use of a stun gun as a form of non-deadly force.
What if I’m Charged with Using a Stun Gun?
Like any weapon, the improper use of a stun gun can easily result in assault charges. Still, if you used the stun gun while defending yourself, another person, or your property—you likely had the legal right to defend yourself. In this case, your criminal charges defense lawyer will present evidence that you were protecting yourself, another person, or your home when you used the stun gun.
However, sometimes police get it wrong. If law enforcement feels they have probable cause that you used the weapon without legal justification, they could arrest you for assault. That’s why it’s critical to hire a criminal charges defense legal practitioner if charged with a stun gun crime.
The prosecution has the burden of proving “beyond a reasonable doubt” that you committed any criminal violation. This constitutes the highest burden of proof needed in any legal proceeding. However, you only have to prove that you were defending yourself by “a preponderance of the evidence.” Instead of demonstrating the lack of reasonable doubt, your attorney only needs to prove at least a 51% likelihood that your actions occurred as a result of you defending yourself, another person, or your property.
Have Questions About Stun Guns in New Mexico? Contact New Mexico Criminal Law Offices Today
Even though New Mexico authorizes the use of self-defense, you can still face charges for the use of a stun gun. In this case, you need a skilled criminal charges defense lawyer to present the circumstances of your case to the prosecutor, with the goal of having the charges against you lessened or dismissed. When you’re facing the possibility of a criminal conviction, you can’t trust just anyone with your case.
Our criminal charges defense attorneys at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices understand that there’s not a one-size-fits-all defense strategy for every criminal case. That’s why we approach every case on an individualized basis, using your facts and circumstances to craft the most appropriate defense strategy. We have successfully defended clients against a wide range of criminal charges in New Mexico.
Call New Mexico Criminal Law Offices at (505) 200-2982 or contact us online for a free consultation.