Understanding Assault & Battery Laws in New Mexico
Although the two charges are frequently linked together, assault and battery are actually two completely different criminal offenses. Assault does not involve actual physical contact or violence. It involves words or actions that cause another person to fear impending violence. Threatening or attempting to strike someone are examples of assault when violent, physical contact never actually occurs.
Battery, on the other hand, does involve physical contact. It is intentionally and unlawfully touching or applying force to another person in an insolent or angry manner. Shoving or punching another person during an argument are examples of battery. It can also involve touching another person (through that person’s clothing) in a sexually suggestive manner without the person’s consent.
Assault & Battery and Criminal Intent
Under New Mexico law, threatening conduct or physical contact must be intentional for assault or battery to occur. Threatening statements made in jest would not constitute assault because they would be lacking criminal intent. The same is true of physical contact that is intended as a joke – without the element of criminal intent, it cannot be considered battery.
Criminal Charges for Assault & Battery
Without aggravating factors, such as intent to commit a felony or use of a deadly weapon, assault is usually charged as a petty misdemeanor. Assault with intent to commit a violent felony, on the other hand, is a third-degree felony in itself, carrying severe penalties of jail time, probation, and fines.
Simple assault, under certain circumstances, is more serious than a petty misdemeanor. Assault on a healthcare provider, a school employee, or a sports official, while that person is carrying out the duties of his or her employment, is charged as a full misdemeanor.
Battery on a household member is also a misdemeanor, though battery on a sports official, healthcare provider, or school employee, while that person is carrying out their duties, is charged as a fourth-degree felony in New Mexico.
Penalties for Assault & Battery
Simple assault and simple battery each carry the following criminal penalties in New Mexico:
- Up to 6 months of jail time
- Fine of up to $500
- Probation for up to 6 months
Misdemeanor battery penalties are more severe. They include:
- Up to one year of jail time
- Fine of up to $1,000
- Probation for up to one year
In addition to probation, jail time, and fines, a person convicted of assault and battery with a sentence that includes less than the maximum time in jail is required to pay restitution. This involves reimbursing the victim of the crime for any medical or other expenses that have resulted from the crime.
Defense Lawyers for Assault & Battery Charges in New Mexico
Contact our office immediately if you have been arrested under suspicion of assault and battery. At New Mexico Criminal Law Offices, our assault and battery defense lawyers have been practicing criminal defense law in New Mexico for 22 years. We understand that assault and battery charges are often blown out of proportion, and we can investigate your case and develop an argument to help you avoid the penalties, based on the facts in your case.