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  • How Much Is Bail for Domestic Violence in New Mexico?

    Posted on by JACK MKHITARIAN

    How Much Is Bail for Domestic Violence in New MexicoGetting released from jail after an arrest but before your case is resolved is extremely important. After New Mexico’s bail reform law amended the state’s constitution, some judges ruled that people are too dangerous after a domestic violence arrest to let them out instead of setting a cash bail. That means you cannot post a bond to get out of jail while your case is pending if you are arrested for domestic violence. That infringes on your ability to mount your defense.Even worse, it stops you from being able to provide for your family for months at a time or longer. 

    Domestic violence bail hearings are incredibly important. Without bail, you could be locked up for months—even when no one has proven you guilty. Representation by an aggressive lawyer from the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices means you will have a fierce advocate by your side at every stage of your case. Contact us today.

    What Is Domestic Violence?

    Crimes of violence occurring between family members, people living together, and other specified domestic relationships are defined as domestic abuse, according to New Mexico law. Generally, domestic abuse refers to an incident occurring between family or household members involving or resulting in:

    • Physical harm,
    • Severe emotional distress,
    • Bodily injury or assault,
    • Threats to do bodily harm,
    • Criminal trespass,
    • Criminal property damage,
    • Harassment,
    • Strangulation,
    • Suffocation, or
    • Harm or the threat of harm to children.

    The definition of domestic abuse also includes the crimes of stalking and sexual assault, even if they do not occur between household members. But the use of force in self-defense or defense of another—if legally justified—is not domestic abuse under New Mexico law.

    Other terms used in New Mexico’s domestic violence law should also be defined. The law establishes a household member as a spouse, former spouse, parent, stepparent, parent-in-law, grandparent, grandparent-in-law, child, stepchild, grandchild, co-parents, and people involved in a continuing personal relationship. The phrase “continuing personal relationship” refers to people involved in a dating or intimate relationship. Additionally, “co-parents” refers to individuals with a child in common regardless of whether they ever lived together.

    Domestic Violence Bail

    In 2016, New Mexico amended its constitution to change the “money for freedom” bond system. Previously, judges worked from fixed monetary bond schedules. That meant that defendants were given monetary amounts to secure their release before trial based almost solely on the level of crime for which they were arrested. This often resulted in dangerous people getting out, while non-violent offenders being stuck in jail simply because they did not have the money to pay for their release. 

    Now, the New Mexico State Constitution requires judges to release defendants on the least restrictive means possible to ensure they return to court to face the charges, as long as the accused is not a danger to the community. Therefore, if the judge determines you are a danger or if you are in on a violent charge, you might remain in jail without bond or have to pay a high bond to be released. But if you are not a danger to others, you have the right to be released on your own recognizance (i.e., without paying a bond) pending trial. However, exceptions exist for various offenses, including domestic violence, DWI, or sex offenses. 

    Bail Hearings in Domestic Violence Cases

    People charged with domestic violence or violent crimes must appear in court within three days of arrest for a detention hearing. The state constitution says that the prosecutor must prove the accused poses a danger to an individual or the community by clear and convincing evidence if they want the individual detained. Once in court, the judge has to assess the accused for dangerousness and risk of flight. This helps the judge determine which conditions of release will ensure the accused returns to court and protects the public. The conditions of release must be the least restrictive under the circumstances. 

    Risk Factor Assessment

    The law requires the judge to look at pretrial risk assessment reports and the accused’s financial resources when setting conditions of release. The court also needs to consider the following before setting bail:

    • The nature of the case, including whether the offense is a crime of violence or involves drugs or alcohol;
    • The strength of the prosecution’s case;
    • The history and personal characteristics of the accused, such as prior criminal record, ties to the community, and record of appearing for court hearings;
    • Whether the accused was on probation or released on other conditions at the time of arrest; 
    • The risk of danger the accused presents to any person or the community if released; 
    • Whether the accused poses a risk of flight; and
    • Any other relevant facts.

    The judge must weigh these factors before setting conditions of release.

    Conditions for Release

    Courts have a variety of conditions they can use when releasing someone after an arrest. The court must order everyone to obey the law upon release. The judge could also order conditions like:

    • Maintaining or actively seeking educational or employment opportunities,
    • Complying with a curfew,
    • Reporting to pretrial services,
    • Refraining from possessing a firearm,
    • Remaining drug and alcohol-free,
    • Attending counseling,
    • Taking drug or alcohol tests, and
    • Staying away from and having no contact with the victim and witnesses involved in the case.

    The court can set other conditions of release as necessary.

    Judges can set a secured bond as a term of release. The law requires the judge to make written findings specifying why an unsecured bond or release only on conditions is appropriate.

    What Should I Do After I Post Bail?

    You have the right to have an attorney present at your detention hearing. If there is no detention hearing in your case, you need to talk to an experienced lawyer immediately after your release. 

    Your lawyer will help you understand the terms of your release, so you don’t violate them and end up back in jail until your case resolves. 

    Also, if the conditions of your release are burdensome, you need to comply with them until your lawyer formally asks the judge to amend the terms. Other than that, you and your lawyer will continue to strategize your defense to get you the best result and resolve your case.

    We Can Help

    How much is bail for domestic violence in New Mexico? As we’ve discussed, the days of established bail amounts are gone, and a judge will look over you, your record, and your alleged crime before deciding the appropriate bail in your case. The dedicated lawyers from the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices fight daily to protect people like you. We can develop a solid game plan to keep you out of jail after an arrest and help you stay out as we work to fight your charges. Remember, clearing your name is our top priority. We offer consultations and appear in all county courts in New Mexico. Contact us today.