Rio Rancho Domestic Violence Lawyers
Compassionate Rio Rancho Domestic Violence Attorneys Ready To Serve You
Domestic violence charges mean big trouble, because New Mexico courts do not take them lightly. In fact, domestic violence is somewhat unique among criminal charges in that
- (i) it involves a highly politicized issue, and
- (ii) false charges of domestic violence are often used to gain an advantage in child custody proceedings.
An accusation of domestic violence more than ever is a very serious matter. Even if you are not guilty. Get in touch with our experienced Rio Rancho domestic violence attorney to discuss your case.
Just What Is “Domestic Violence” Anyway?
Under New Mexico law, a “household member” is a spouse, family member, or person with whom the accused has an ongoing personal relationship (a girlfriend, for example). “Domestic violence” occurs when one household member commits one of the following offenses against another household member:
- Causing physical injuries to the accuser or to children
- Threatening to harm children
- Intentionally causing severe emotional distress
- Assaulting the accuser with the intent to commit a violent felony
- Threatening imminent injury (cocking a fist, pulling a gun, etc.)
- Criminal trespassing
- Causing property damage
- Stalking behavior
- Harassing the accuser by telephone
Domestic violence can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. It can carry stiff penalties up to and including years in prison, as well as other penalties. Furthermore, a domestic violence conviction can brand you with the “mark of Cain” because of the negative stigma attached to it.
Potential Defenses and Countermeasures
A charge is not the same as a conviction. To win a conviction against you, the prosecutor is going to have to prove his case beyond a reasonable doubt. The following is a very incomplete list of some of the most common defenses and countermeasures against domestic violence charges:
- Self-defense (the accuser attacked you first)
- Defense of others (a child, for example)
- Exclusion of illegally seized evidence, sometimes even including a confession, from your trial
- The contradiction of a fact that is critical to a conviction – a witness who testifies that you were out of town on the day of an alleged assault, for example.
- Plea bargaining: Pleading guilty to a lesser offense in exchange for a lighter sentence
What Happens When 911 Gets a Domestic Violence Call?
There are many aspects of domestic violence cases that the general public is simply unaware of, and this ignorance of the law could cost you or a loved one dearly. For instance, did you know that once someone picks up the phone and speaks to a 911 operator claiming that they are experiencing a domestic violence situation, several things routinely happen? In fact, they happen almost every time a domestic violence accusation is made.
Police Will Be Dispatched
Before anyone picks up the phone to call 911, they should know that the police will come to the scene. Usually, they arrive relatively quickly, because domestic violence is taken quite seriously in New Mexico.
Someone Is Going to Jail
When the police arrive, they are not there to solve your marital or relationship problems. They are not going to listen to your story very intently. Instead, chances are that they want to cut through the chatter and simply make an arrest to diffuse the situation. And yes, even if the situation is already diffused when the officers arrive, chances are still very good that someone is going to jail. And that unlucky someone is very likely going to be the first accused. In other words, he who calls 911 first usually wins. This is certainly not true in every instance, but it is true most of the time.
Charges Will Be Filed and Pursued
Another thing that many people do not understand about these types of accusations is that charges will be filed, and the prosecution will pursue the case. Even when the accuser later recants their story and tells the prosecutor that they do not wish to go forward, this is no guarantee that the prosecutor will drop the charges. This seems counter-intuitive. Most people assume that if the alleged victim doesn’t want to “press charges” that the case will be dropped. What they are failing to understand is that the prosecutor decides what to charge and when to drop a case. They alone make that decision, and it does not have to agree with the alleged victim.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Do I need an attorney at the hearing for a restraining order?
It is most definitely in your best interest to have a trusted Rio Rancho domestic violence lawyer to represent you at the hearing for your restraining order. There are a couple of reasons for this.
Many of these hearings are done pro se. That is to say that both the petitioner (your accuser) and the respondent (you) have no attorney present and choose to represent themselves. However, you are the one whose rights are in jeopardy. You have more on the line. Whether the restraining order being issued results in you having to move your place of residence, or in less contact with your kids, or simply in the social stigma associated with such an order and how it could impact your job, etc., the impact on you is significant.
And because the consequences are significant, you need counsel to represent you. An experienced attorney will know what needs to be said and what needs to not be said so that you get the best results in this hearing and at your criminal trial. Keep in mind that these hearings are on the record, and whatever you say may be used against you in future proceedings. If you say the wrong thing at any time (which is very easy to do when you don’t know what to watch out for), you could end up negatively impacting the result of your criminal case.
Can I be cleared if my accuser decides to drop charges?
Strictly speaking, no. Only the prosecutor can drop charges, and he can persist with a prosecution even over the objections of your accuser. As a practical matter, however, it might be difficult for the prosecutor to win in court without the cooperation of your accuser. The prosecutor can, however, question your accuser under oath and compel an answer. Refusal to answer would be contempt of court while answering untruthfully would be perjury.
Can the criminal court rule on child custody during my prosecution?
No, the criminal court cannot rule on child custody; that is the job of the family court. Nevertheless, a domestic violence conviction could drastically affect your child custody rights. Even a charge that never results in a conviction could have a temporary effect on your parental rights.
What are the consequences of violating a no-contact order?
You could be arrested and jailed. New Mexico courts are typically very strict about enforcing no-contact orders. What’s more, you could be convicted of violating a no-contact order even if you are acquitted of the underlying domestic violence charge. Never violate a no-contact order.
What are the typical “conditions of release” on a domestic violence charge?
You may be subject to many conditions of release. The most common are:
- No consumption of alcohol or drugs
- No violations of the law
- No contact with the accuser
- Travel restrictions (no leaving the state, for example)
- No possession of firearms, even if it is required for your job
Some of these restrictions can be modified with a persuasive petition to the court. Do not break an existing restriction or you could be arrested. Speak with our knowledgeable domestic violence attorneys to understand more about conditions of release.
If you have been charged with domestic violence in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, you are at war whether you know it or not and whether you like it or not. Do not march into battle alone, even if you are innocent and you believe that “justice will prevail.” Unfortunately, in New Mexico courts, it is admissible evidence and persuasive advocacy that prevail, and justice only prevails if it coincides with these advantages.
Contact A Skilled Domestic Violence Lawyer Today
At New Mexico Criminal Law, it is our attorney’s job to see to it that these advantages are yours. Our trusted Rio Rancho domestic violence lawyers have shaved thousands of years off of prison sentences sought by aggressive Rio Rancho prosecutors. We have won complete acquittals for many of our clients also. Call us to speak with an experienced Rio Rancho domestic violence attorney or fill out our online contact form to schedule an appointment. We serve clients from Sara’s Meadow, Diamond Ridge, Enchanted Hills, and elsewhere in the Rio Rancho area.