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  • New Mexico Sex Crimes: Alternative To Prison

    Posted on by JACK MKHITARIAN

    sex crimes alternatives to prisonIf you have charges alleging a sex crime in New Mexico, you may be worrying about how much time you could spend in prison if convicted.

    Prison time might be the expected sanction for a sex crime conviction. However, it is not the only sentencing option a judge has.

    Depending on certain factors, you may not have to go to jail at all. However, it won’t be an easy sell—New Mexico judges are notoriously tough on sex offenders.

    However, with the help of a lawyer from the New Mexico Criminal Law Office, you may be able to reduce the time you have to spend in prison or avoid it altogether. 

    Basic Penalties for a Sex Crime in New Mexico

    The charges dictate the types of penalties a New Mexico judge can order. Sex crimes vary in severity from a fourth-degree felony to a first-degree felony.

    Factors that determine the severity of the offense include the age of the victim, the age of the accused, and the severity of the conduct alleged. 

    New Mexico law specifies the basic sentence a judge must impose before adding sentencing enhancements.

    The basic sentences for common sex crimes are:

    • Life in prison for first-degree felony aggravated criminal sexual penetration;
    • 15 years prison for a second-degree felony for a sexual offense against a child;
    • Six years in prison for a third-degree felony for a sexual offense against a child; 
    • 11 years in prison for a third-degree felony for the sexual exploitation of children; and
    • 10 years in prison for a fourth-degree felony for the sexual exploitation of children.

    A judge can impose a fine of up to $17,500 for a first-degree felony involving criminal sexual penetration.

    Additionally, the judge shall impose a period of parole time for any sentence exceeding one year. 

    A second-degree felony for criminal sexual penetration carries a minimum mandatory sentence of three years.

    The law states that the judge cannot suspend or defer any part of the three-year minimum-mandatory sentence. 

    New Mexico Sex Crime Sentencing: Aggravating and Mitigating Factors

    New Mexico law requires a judge to hold a sentencing hearing after a conviction. At the hearing, the judge determines whether mitigating or aggravating circumstances should alter the basic sentence. 

    The judge could hear evidence pertaining to mitigating or aggravating factors. After hearing the evidence presented, the judge will render a decision.

    The trial judge must take into account any mitigating circumstances concerning the offense or the offender. But for aggravating circumstances to enhance the basic sentence, a jury or judge must find beyond a reasonable doubt that such circumstances were present.

    The statute does not define mitigating or aggravating circumstances. The law specifically excludes consideration of the use of a firearm, a prior felony conviction, the commission of a hate crime, and any proof of the underlying case as an aggravating circumstance.

    Concerning the offender using a firearm or having a prior felony conviction, New Mexico statutes specifically address those circumstances and how they can be used to affect sentencing.

    The judge can only reduce the basic sentence by one-third for an adult offender. However, the judge can reduce charges for a youthful offender by a greater amount. 

    Sentencing Alternatives for Sex Offenses

    Incarceration is not the only punishment for sex offenses. When a judgment is entered against the offender, a court has four sentencing options.

    A judge can incarcerate the offender, send the offender to a 60-day diagnostic period, order a sentence and suspend the execution of the sentence, or defer imposition of the sentence. 

    Suspended or Deferred Sentences

    The sentencing judge does not have the authority to suspend or defer sentencing on a capital offense or a first-degree felony. 

    Suspended sentence

    Suspending a sentence is often confused with deferring a sentence. The concepts are related in that the convicted offender does not receive a full prison sentence in either circumstance. The difference lies in the execution of the sentence. 

    Receiving a suspended sentence means that you already know how long your prison sentence will be.

    When a judge suspends a sentence, the judge first imposes a prison term but then places the offender on probation in lieu of incarceration.

    If you violate the terms of your probation, that violation triggers the imposition of the prison sentence. 

    Split sentence

    The judge can also split the sentence. They do this by ordering an offender to serve a portion of a jail sentence while suspending the remainder of it. Then the judge would place the offender on probation for the suspended portion of the sentence.

    Deferred sentence

    A deferred sentence works differently. The judge records a judgment against the offender but does not order them to be incarcerated.

    Instead, the judge withholds sentencing to another time. The judge will place the offender on probation and order that person to complete the appropriate probationary conditions. The deferred sentence cannot be indefinite.

    The judge must establish the length of probation at sentencing. A violation of probation triggers the imposition of a committed sentence.

    Diagnostic term

    Finally, the sentencing judge can send the offender to a 60-day diagnostic term at the department of corrections.

    The diagnostic report should provide the judge with information that will help them sentence the offender in a way that protects the public and aids the offender in rehabilitation. 

    Probation for a Sex Offense

    A person convicted of a sex offense who receives a deferred or suspended sentence must be on probation for at least five years.

    The period of probation can be indeterminate; however, probation cannot last longer than 20 years.

    The court can order the offender to abide by reasonable terms and conditions of probation.

    Some of those conditions could include no contact with the victim or people in the same class as the victim, substance abuse testing, sex offender treatment, and supervision by a probation officer. Other conditions may be appropriate. 

    Contact Us for Information About New Mexico Sex Crimes: Alternative To Prisons

    Having an aggressive defense attorney from the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices can give you the best shot at avoiding a lengthy prison sentence.

    We fight vigorously to protect our clients’ rights. We back down from no one, and we will treat your case as if we were standing in your shoes.

    Call us today to find out more.