Belen Domestic Violence Charges
Belen Domestic Violence Lawyers
Domestic violence is somewhat unique among New Mexico crimes in that it is not only a crime, it is also a hot-button political issue. The reform of domestic violence law has broadened the definition of domestic violence to the extent that large segments of the public don’t realize just how wide of a net it casts. Don’t let it catch you by surprise. Contact our Belen domestic violence lawyers if you have questions.
What Is Domestic Violence?
Under New Mexico law, “domestic violence” occurs when one “householder member” commits any of the following acts against another household member:
- Physical abuse
- Infliction of severe emotional distress
- Threat of imminent body injury
- Criminal trespassing
- Property damage
- “Stalking” behavior (repeatedly driving past the accuser’s home or office, for example)
- Verbal and physical harassment
- Threats to harm children
- Similar behavior (theoretically, even verbal insults could qualify as “assault”)
A “household member” can be a spouse, a family member, a co-parent with whom you are involved in an intimate relationship as well as current and former in-laws. They don’t have to live with you.
Incarceration for Domestic Violence
Domestic violence charges can range from petty misdemeanors to felonies. The maximum period of incarceration ranges from six months for a petty misdemeanor to three years for a third-degree felony. Of course, the most serious offenders can be charged using other criminal charges that do not require both parties to be household members. A judge may impose other penalties as well, such as mandatory psychological counseling.
Orders of Protection
One unique aspect of domestic violence laws, in comparison with other criminal statutes that penalize violent acts not necessarily directed at household members, is the ability of th accuser to seek an immediate domestic violence restraining order (known as an “order of protection”) from the court.
Someone who accuses you of domestic violence can seek an emergency order of protection against you without you even being present at the hearing. The order expires in 72 hours, however, and you are entitled to be present and to speak to any hearing that is held to extend the duration of the order.
You could lose custody of your children this way, and you might not even be allowed to visit your own home. As unfair as this may seem, it is a good idea to comply with an order of protection. This is because you can be convicted of violating the order of protection even if you are acquitted of the underlying domestic violence charge.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can you guarantee that you will keep all of our communications secret (even a confession)?
Yes. We are New Mexico lawyers, and as such, we are bound by attorney-client privilege as well as ethical restrictions on revealing your secrets – even a confession. In fact, our license to practice law could be revoked if we revealed any of your secrets without your permission. Your secrets are safe with us. Call our trusted Belen domestic violence lawyers to discuss your case.
What are the primary New Mexico criminal laws that generate domestic violence charges?
Three of the most important New Mexico domestic violence statutes are:
- The Crimes Against Household Members Act;
- The Family Violence Protection Act; and
- The Harassment and Stalking Act.
Keep in mind that domestic violence can also be characterized as a civil offense that might give rise to a lawsuit demanding money damages.
What are some of the most common defenses against domestic violence charges?
Although many defenses are possible, some of the most common are:
- Defense of others (children, for example)
- False accusation
- The accuser is not a “household member.” This defense will not result in a complete acquittal but may result in a less serious charge.
Other defenses may be available depending on the nature of the events that led to the arrest.
Can the accuser refuse to press charges?
No. In fact, the accuser cannot even bring charges – only the prosecutor can. Likewise, only the prosecutor can drop charges. The prosecutor’s case could be weakened, however, by the accuser’s refusal to cooperate, and this may convince the prosecutor to drop the charges.
Defending Yourself Against Domestic Violence Allegations
If you have been charged with domestic violence in Belen, New Mexico, if you anticipate that a domestic violence complaint will be lodged against you, or if you have a restraining order against you, you are going to need legal assistance, right away. Our goal is to not only get you acquitted of the charges, if possible, but to clear your name as well.
Call our Belen domestic violence lawyers at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices now or fill out our online contact form so that we can schedule an appointment to talk about your case and answer your questions. We serve clients from De Soto, Hilltop, Mesa and Aragon, Valencia, and elsewhere in Belen. We can even visit you in jail if you need us to.