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  • Failure to Register as a Sex Offender: Penalties and Consequences in New Mexico

    Posted on by JACK MKHITARIAN

    stressed young man sitting on a chairSex offenses are some of the most serious crimes anyone can face. In most cases, a conviction for a New Mexico sex offense carries life-changing penalties, including jail time, probation, fines, and registration as a sex offender.

    Registration of sex offenders is mandatory for those convicted of certain crimes. Thus, if a judge or jury convicted you of a sex crime, you will almost certainly need to register as a sex offender. If you fail to register as a sex offender, you can face new charges.

    What Crimes Are Sex Offenses?

    States are free to determine which offenses require a person to register as a sex offender. In New Mexico, upon conviction for the following crimes, you must register as a sex offender:

    • Aggravated indecent exposure,
    • Child solicitation by electronic communication device,
    • Criminal sexual contact in the fourth degree,
    • Criminal sexual contact of a minor,
    • Criminal sexual penetration,
    • Enticement of a child,
    • False imprisonment when committed with the intent to inflict a sexual offense,
    • Incest,
    • Kidnapping when committed with the intent to inflict a sexual offense,
    • Sexual exploitation of children,
    • Sexual exploitation of children by prostitution,
    • Solicitation to commit criminal sexual contact of a minor, and
    • Attempt to commit certain felony sexual offenses.

    The length of time you must register depends on the seriousness of the offense and whether you have a prior sex offense conviction.

    Sex Offender Registration Requirements

    If you are required to register as a sex offender, you must provide certain information to the local sheriff’s department, including:

    • Your name,
    • Your birth date,
    • Your social security number,
    • Your current address,
    • Your place of employment,
    • The offense you were convicted of, and
    • The date and place of your conviction.

    In addition, you must let the local sheriff know if you move, begin attending school, or get a job. You only have ten days to provide this information. If you fail to register as a sex offender, you commit a new crime. Depending on the type of conviction, you may also need to check in with the local sheriff’s department every 90 days.

    Punishments for Failing to Register as a Sex Offender in New Mexico

    The registration requirements for sex offenders are incredibly burdensome; however, it is imperative that you follow these rules. Under state law, anyone who willfully or knowingly fails to comply with the registration requirements can face fourth-degree felony charges. A fourth-degree felony offense carries a jail sentence of up to 18 months. If you fail to register as a sex offender for a second time, it is a third-degree felony. Third-degree felonies carry a maximum sentence of up to three years imprisonment.

    It is also imperative that you provide accurate information when registering as a sex offender. Under New Mexico Statutes section 29-11A-4, a  sex offender who willfully or knowingly provides false information when complying with the registration requirements is guilty of a fourth-degree felony. A second offense results in a third-degree felony charge.

    In addition to any term of incarceration, New Mexico law provides that a person’s failure to register as a sex offender is “deemed part of a continuing transaction or occurrence.” This means that if you failed to register once, you will have a hard time proving that a subsequent violation was unintentional because the prosecution can introduce evidence of your prior failure-to-register conviction.

    Defending Against a Failure to Register Offense

    Like other criminal prosecutions, the government will rely on certain evidence to prove that you knowingly or intentionally failed to register as a sex offender. While the terms “knowingly” and “intentionally” would seem to indicate that an accidental failure to register cannot be punished, that isn’t the case. Courts assume that anyone required to register as a sex offender is aware of their obligations, and a party cannot typically claim ignorance of the requirements as a defense.

    However, there are several effective defenses to these crimes. For example, to prove you failed to register, the government must establish that you actually moved. If you didn’t move, then nothing triggered your obligation to re-register. Often, your “location of residence” is not clear cut, and if an experienced New Mexico criminal charges defense lawyer can raise doubt about your residence, there may be insufficient evidence to prove a violation.

    Additionally, prosecutors often rely on information gathered by police to bring these charges. A New Mexico sex crimes charges attorney may be able to challenge the manner in which police officers obtained the evidence that serves as the basis of the violation. For example, if police searched your home or interrogated you in violation of your constitutional rights, any evidence they recovered may not be admissible at trial.

    Sometimes, your good-faith efforts at registering may fall short. Perhaps you made an innocent mistake or notified the sheriff a few days late. Although this still counts as a failure to register, a lawyer may be able to convince the prosecutor to offer you leniency based on the efforts you made to comply. For example, a prosecutor may withdraw a more serious failure-to-register offense in favor of a less serious offense that doesn’t carry the same consequences.

    Have You Been Accused of Failing to Register as a Sex Offender in New Mexico?

    If you were convicted of a New Mexico sex crime and now face allegations that you failed to register, you need an attorney who will take your case as seriously as you do. At the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices, our lawyers have extensive experience defending the rights of clients convicted of sex crimes. We can help put any minor failure in context, increasing the chances that the government will see your good-faith efforts. Having handled countless sex crimes and failure-to-register offenses, we also command a comprehensive knowledge of the laws governing these offenses and can work with you to develop a compelling defense to the allegations you face. To learn more and to schedule a free consultation with one of our New Mexico sex crimes charges defense attorneys, give us a call at 505-200-2982. You can also reach us through our online form.