Understanding New Mexico’s Misdemeanor Classifications
New Mexico criminal statutes define a crime as “… an act or omission forbidden by law and for which, upon conviction, a sentence of either death, imprisonment or a fine is authorized.”
There are a variety of crimes that can be committed by an individual in New Mexico and, like in all other states, these crimes are classified based on the severity of the punishment you may receive, if convicted.
Felonies Versus Misdemeanors in New Mexico
Felony crimes are unlawful acts that are punishable by death sentence or imprisonment for a term of one year or more. Examples of felonies include:
- Armed robbery
Misdemeanors are considered less serious crimes. Some common misdemeanors include:
- Public intoxication
- Possession of marijuana
- Most DUI/DWI offenses
In New Mexico, misdemeanors are broken down into two categories:
- Petty misdemeanors
Petty Misdemeanors in New Mexico
A petty misdemeanor is the least serious crime punishable by jail time in New Mexico. Examples of petty misdemeanors include:
- Simple battery
- Shoplifting items with a value under $250,
- Graffiti (involving property damage under $1,000)
- Disorderly conduct
Petty misdemeanors in New Mexico are punishable by a fine of up to $500, six months in jail, or both.
Misdemeanors are more serious offenses than petty misdemeanors. Examples of misdemeanors include:
- Shoplifting items with a value over $250 but less than $500
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
Misdemeanors in New Mexico are punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, one year in jail, or both.
In New Mexico law, the Judge has the discretion to decide the severity of the sentence you will receive for a misdemeanor conviction. The severity of the sentence will depend on a variety of mitigating and aggravating factors, such as:
- Your criminal record, or lack thereof,
- The amount of damage or the severity of the injuries you caused, and
- Whether or not you have expressed remorse for the crime.
Furthermore, unless the crime carries a mandatory minimum sentence such as 90 days in jail, the Judge may, at his or her discretion, sentence you to alternative sentencing options – these include probation, drug counseling, home detention programs and community service.
Stay Out of the System – Speak with a New Mexico Criminal Defense Attorney
Misdemeanors carry less severe sentences than felonies, but can still have serious consequence on your life. If convicted, you may have your driver’s license suspended, face difficulty finding employment and housing, and jeopardize professional certification and licensing. Therefore, you should defend against misdemeanors as vigorously as you would a felony charge.
At New Mexico Criminal Law Offices, we fight hard to keep our clients out of jail or prison, starting with the arraignment and bail hearing. We employ strategies to fight for the minimum sentence, or to seek probation rather than incarceration. We have years of trial experience, and are recognized in the legal community for our professional defense work. Contact our office today by calling (505) 375-4664 or by using our online contact form to discuss your case.