Can I Get a Modified Prison Sentence in NM?
Defense Attorneys Fighting for Victims of Sentencing Errors in New Mexico Courts
After you have been convicted and sentenced, your case is not technically over. Even if you do not have grounds for an appeal, you may be able to request that your judgment is modified, which means that it is corrected or reduced in accordance with the statute.
The modification will vary depending on the case and crime. However, the state of New Mexico, for the most part, follows federal rules. This means that you can modify your sentence if:
- There was an error with the sentence.
- The defendant was in prison serving his or her sentence, but has helped the prosecution in another criminal case.
- The reduced sentence is needed because of the defendant’s age or health.
When Errors Occur
Sentence errors occur often, but they can be corrected by recalculating the proper sentence. For example, if you get five years in jail, but the judge’s order states that you are sentenced to 10 years, the judge can correct or “modify” the sentence. You must require this within a certain amount of time. After the time limit has passed, the judge no longer has the power to modify the order.
When You Help or Cooperate with Prosecution
Sometimes, a criminal defendant is approached by the prosecution to assist them with another criminal case. This may include testifying or providing evidence. For this work, the prosecution files a request to reduce or modify the sentence based on the arrangement made with the defendant. They have a year to do this – so, even if you were to help the prosecution, do not expect them to make the change overnight.
Other Circumstances that Qualify for a Reduction or Modification
There are other instances where you may be eligible to reduce or modify your sentence. These include:
- The Director of the Bureau of Prisons Makes a Request: There are cases where the Director could request a modification of your prison time. This is usually due to compelling or extraordinary circumstances, such as if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness and require specialized care.
- Your Age: If you are 70 years or older and you have served 30 years of your life sentence, you may receive a modification or reduction.
- United States Sentencing Guidelines Have Changed: If you received a sentence based specifically on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, and those guidelines lower the standard sentence for your crime, you may request a modification to meet the current guidelines.
To Modify Your Sentence, Speak with a Criminal Defense Attorney
Changes and reductions are complex and challenging to obtain. If you want to be approved for a sentence modification or reduction, you must first consult with an attorney to see if your case qualifies. An attorney can examine your case and present evidence to the court that establishes the legitimacy of that claim.