Santa Fe Domestic Violence Lawyers
Trusted Santa Fe Domestic Violence Attorneys Ready To Fight For You
Being charged with domestic violence in New Mexico could mean being caught up in a political firestorm due to the political significance and social stigma attached to this offense. A domestic violence charge is unique from other criminal charges involving an allegation of violence in three particular ways:
(i) “Domestic” means that the accuser must be defined as a “household member” with respect to you. A “household member” doesn’t have to be someone who lives with you. They can be a spouse, a family member, or the mother or father of your child (if you two are involved in an intimate relationship).
(ii) The definition of “violence,” for the purpose of domestic violence charges, has been broadened far beyond its ordinary dictionary meaning. “Violence” can mean:
- Physical violence, even if it doesn’t cause injury
- Infliction of severe emotional distress
- Causing the apprehension of injury (taking a swing at someone, for example, even if you miss, or brandishing your fist)
- Destruction of property
- “Stalking” behavior
- Verbal harassment
- Threats to harm the accuser’s children
- Similar behavior – In fact, New Mexico law includes even “insults” within its definition of assault.
(iii) It is easy and simple for an accuser to get an emergency restraining order against you (known as a “domestic violence order of protection”). You can be barred from entering your own home for 72 hours without even having a chance to explain your side of the story to the judge. However, you will be allowed to present your side of the story if the accuser seeks to extend the order of protection beyond 72 hours. Contact our Santa Fe domestic violence attorney to discuss your situation.
If you are convicted of domestic violence, you could spend anywhere from six months to three years behind bars. Even though people convicted of domestic violence avoid prison altogether, the stigma of such a conviction could follow you even after you are released. We will fight hard to clear your name.
Domestic violence charges in Santa Fe can result in a range of penalties, including:
- Petty Misdemeanor: Up to 6 months incarceration
- Misdemeanor: Up to 1-year incarceration
- 4th Degree Felony: Up to 18 months in prison
- 3rd Degree Felony: Up to 3 years in prison
- Court-Ordered Anger Management Classes and/or Domestic Violence Classes
- Monetary Fines
Your potential penalties depend on the offenses encompassed in your domestic violence charges. An experienced Santa Fe domestic violence lawyer can explain what level crimes you’re facing and the penalty ranges of those crimes.
New Mexico Statute of Limitations on Domestic Violence Charges
The statute of limitations operates as a time limit for the prosecution to bring criminal charges against a defendant. The reason behind having a statute of limitations involves the defendant’s right to adequately defend themselves. If a defendant could face charges for a minor criminal offense committed several decades ago, it’s unlikely he or she could locate eyewitnesses to the crime, uncover evidence relating to the crime, or find anyone harmed by the crime. The statute of limitations protects criminal defendants from that scenario ever taking place. While serious offenses like murder have no statute of limitations, minor criminal offenses do.
New Mexico assigns a statute of limitations to a selected crime based on the class of the crime. Capital felonies have no limitation period. A second-degree felony carries a six-year statute of limitations. Fourth-degree felonies carry a five-year statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations for your alleged crimes depends on the classification of your criminal charges. Our team of Santa Fe domestic violence lawyers can help determine what limitation period applies to your charges and how much time the state has left to file charges.
Motivations for False 911 Calls
There are a significant number of domestic violence calls that are made in the heat of the moment and for all the wrong reasons. People have been known to call 911 when nothing violent is actually happening. Specific reasons for making such a false allegation are as varied as the number of relationships in the world, but they often include:
- Trying to gain the upper hand in a domestic situation
- Trying to get an upper hand in a child custody case
It is also not uncommon for people who’ve reacted impulsively, by calling 911 when it wasn’t necessary, to be shocked when their significant other gets arrested on the spot. When they realize the serious trouble that they got the accused into, they often recant their statement and ask the prosecutor to drop the case. Unfortunately, this doesn’t often result in the case getting dropped. Prosecutors will often march diligently forward and let a jury decide – if the accused won’t take a plea. They will rely on officer observations, witnesses other than the alleged victim, and they will often force the alleged victim to testify against their will.
Possible defenses to a charge of domestic violence are:
- Defense of others
- Accusations are simply false
Domestic violence charges are some of the most difficult for prosecutors to prove. The intimate relationship between the parties, whether it is a mother and son, father and daughter, or husband and wife, often make it difficult to get consistent testimony from witnesses or victims. Testimony from these people will often be inconsistent at best, and inconsistent testimony can leave room for reasonable doubt.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
My accuser has gotten an emergency restraining order against me but is seeking to extend the time that the order is effective. Who decides if the order becomes long-term – the criminal court?
No. The criminal court is only interested in the resolution of your criminal charges. And although it may appear at first glance that the restraining order is part of the criminal case, it actually is not. Obtaining a restraining order is a civil matter, which is taken care of within the Family Court system.
What happens is that the accuser will file for an extension of the order, and a hearing will be set. It may be helpful to think of this hearing as a “mini-trial” in that many of the same procedures are used but in a slightly less formal setting. This hearing is not only a chance for your accuser to have his or her story heard, but it is also an opportunity for you to have your side of the story heard – not for the purposes of your criminal case, but for the purpose of maintaining access to your home and family.
One word of caution, however. It is important to have a trusted Santa Fe domestic violence lawyer with you at the hearing, both to help you get the best result possible and to make sure that you don’t put anything “on the record” that might hurt your criminal case later.
Can I be cleared if my accuser decides to drop the charges?
Not necessarily. Since your accuser didn’t bring charges in the first place (the prosecutor did), the accuser is not legally entitled to drop charges even after a change of heart. Although your accuser can refuse to cooperate, the prosecutor can compel him or her to testify at trial and answer questions under oath.
Can the criminal court rule on child custody during my prosecution?
No. A criminal court has no jurisdiction over a child custody issue. The family court can rule on this issue, however, and it can take a domestic violence charge into account even if you are not convicted of the offense. In fact, false allegations of domestic violence are commonly used as weapons in child custody battles. We will work hard to expose false allegations against you.
What are the consequences of violating a no-contact order?
Do not violate a no-contact order, because you could be sent to jail for it. Violation of a no-contact order is an offense that is independent of the underlying domestic violence charge. In other words, if you violate a no-contact order, you could be convicted of violating the order itself even if you are ultimately acquitted of the domestic violence charge. If you have questions get in touch with an experienced Santa Fe domestic violence attorney.
What are the “conditions of release” for a domestic violence charge?
That depends on the details of your case. Typical conditions of release include restrictions such as these:
- No consumption of any kind of intoxicants
- No leaving the state
- No possession of firearms
- No violations of the law, even minor traffic violations
- No contact with the accuser in any form (in person, by email, over the phone, etc.)
- You must keep a certain distance from the accuser at all times (500 yards, for example)
Some of these restrictions can be modified with the permission of the court.
Contact A Skilled Santa Fe Domestic Violence Attorney to Help Defend You from This Charge
Yes, New Mexico prosecutors are aggressive – but so are we. Our legal team are veterans of the trench wars that we often have to fight to clear our client’s name. “Reasonable doubt” is all you need to win an acquittal, and we know many ways of creating that doubt, depending on the facts of your individual case. Naturally, we cannot offer an absolute guarantee of a desirable result, but we can guarantee that our Santa Fe domestic violence attorneys will fight for you with every weapon in our legal arsenal.
If you have been charged with domestic violence in Santa Fe, New Mexico, contact New Mexico Criminal Law Offices immediately by calling us or by filling out our online contact form to schedule an appointment. Our dedicated Santa Fe domestic violence lawyers serve clients from all over Santa Fe, including Bishops Lodge, Jaguar Village, La Paz, and Rio Vista. We can even meet with you in jail if you are not free to come to our office.