Does New Mexico Have a Stand Your Ground Law?
Experienced Lawyer Explains New Mexico’s Lack of “Stand Your Ground Law” Defense
In some states, there is a “Stand Your Ground” law, which allows individuals to be acquitted of manslaughter if they can prove that (i) they were acting in self-defense and, (ii) there was an imminent threat to their safety at the time of the act.
While this is common in many states, New Mexico is not one that employs the Stand Your Ground theory. If you were to commit manslaughter due to self-defense, you could not use this type of defense.
There have been several attempts to pass legislation that would enact a similar law, but these have ultimately failed. More than 30 states in the U.S. have this type of law, including every state along the southern United States border, except California and New Mexico.
What is the Stand Your Ground Law?
These laws provide that any individuals who are engaged in a lawful activity and in a place where they have the right to be, do not have to retreat before using deadly force to defend themselves. However, the individuals must provide that they reasonably believed that an assailant threatened them, and that their actions were the only solution to protect themselves.
In 2011, there were two bills introduced into the legislative session for New Mexico, which would have created a law like Florida’s. These bills were designed to make it clear to New Mexico residents that if they were in a threatening situation, they did not have a duty to retreat. However, both bills failed during the session and never went further.
Does New Mexico Have a Self-Defense Law?
New Mexico does have a self-defense law, but it is based on extremely old statutes that say a homicide is only justified when it is committed due to a necessary need to defend life, family, or property. A judge examines these situations on a case-by-case basis, and the prosecution and presiding judge will look for circumstances where the defendant acted reasonably.
One indicator is that the defendant must have attempted to flee or retreat prior to using deadly force. If defendants stood their ground, then they did not have a reasonable need for violence; especially if there was adequate time to retreat rather than act.
Juries have plenty of room when determining if a defendant was justified, but rural jurors are more likely to acquit a murder in self-defense situations than those from urban areas within the state. Also, the defendant’s background and advantage over the victim are taken into consideration.
Did You Act in Self-Defense? Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney Immediately
While the law does allow you to claim self-defense, you must prove that there were no other means for protection beyond the actions that you took. Therefore, you need a skilled criminal defense lawyer to represent your case to the prosecution and help you avoid criminal charges.