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  • Understanding Your Restraining Order: New Mexico Legal Guide

    Posted on by JACK MKHITARIAN

    In New Mexico, dealing with a restraining order can be daunting, raising many questions and concerns. With such stringent requirements, you should know the legal process of obtaining a restraining order and how it affects your rights. 

    This guide answers frequently asked questions about restraining orders, such as what a restraining order is in New Mexico, the possible consequences of violating one, and how to defend your rights during this difficult time.

    What Is a Restraining Order in New Mexico?

    A restraining order, also known as a civil harassment restraining order (CHRO), is a legally binding document that a New Mexico court issues. The order restricts the actions of one person (the respondent) to protect another (the petitioner) from unwanted contact, threats, harassment, and other harmful behaviors.

    These orders are used in various situations, including:

    • Property disputes—to prevent trespassing or damage to property.
    • Landlord-tenant disagreements—to prevent illegal evictions or harassment by landlords or tenants.
    • Workplace harassment—to protect employees from abuse, discrimination, or hostile behavior at work.
    • Cyberbullying and stalking—to protect people from online harassment, threats, and harmful content.

    Restraining orders are a legal tool that allows individuals to seek legal protection from such harmful behaviors and create safe environments.

    What Does a Civil Harassment Restraining Order Include?

    The restraining order will explicitly outline actions the restrained party must avoid, such as phone calls, texts, emails, social media interactions, physical proximity, or trespassing. It may also dictate staying away from specific locations like the petitioner’s home, gym, workplace, church, school, or other frequented areas.

    It’s important to note that CHROs are designed for situations where the parties do not share a domestic relationship, such as that of a spouse, former spouse, or cohabitant.

    Frequently Asked Questions About Restraining Orders

    How to Obtain a Restraining Order in New Mexico

    An online application for a civil harassment restraining order is available through the Second Judicial District Court. The application fee is $132.

    The petitioner must provide the court with proof of harm, abuse, or harassment, which may include documents such as medical records, pictures, text messages, emails, or even witness statements.

    A ten-day temporary restraining order will be issued after the court reviews the application. A hearing will be scheduled for each side to present their cases. At that ten-day hearing, the judge will decide whether a permanent restraining order is necessary.

    Can You Fight a Restraining Order?

    Yes, you can challenge a restraining order if it has been issued unfairly or on false grounds. Attend the hearing, provide evidence, and hire a skilled New Mexico criminal defense lawyer to advocate and defend your rights. An experienced lawyer can:

    • Assess the restraining order’s legality and potential grounds for dispute.
    • Gather information and develop a strong defense strategy.
    • Represent you confidently in court, ensuring that your voice is heard.

    Receiving a restraining order can be unsettling, but you have the right to dispute it. Your attorney can advise you on the best strategy.

    What Happens If You Violate a Restraining Order?

    Violating a restraining order is a serious offense and should not be taken lightly. It can lead to arrest, fines, or incarceration. It is crucial to comply with the terms of the order and seek legal guidance if you believe there are valid reasons for disputing it.

    In New Mexico, a first offense of violating a restraining order is a misdemeanor with penalties of up to one year in jail and fines up to $1,000. 

    What Happens If You Violate a Restraining Order Twice?

    A second restraining order violation results in a mandatory minimum jail sentence of at least 72 hours. A fourth-degree felony conviction carries a maximum prison sentence of 18 months and a $5,000 fine. 

    A third or subsequent offense can lead to a third-degree felony conviction, punishable by three years incarceration and a $5,000 fine.

    How Long Does It Take to Drop a Restraining Order?

    Usually, restraining orders drop at the end of the period designated by the court. Removing a restraining order is a complicated process that needs both parties’ agreement and good cause.  The court must approve before the restraining order can be lifted if it is a permanent restraining order. The party that requests to terminate the order will determine the procedure. 

    Does New Mexico Enforce Restraining Orders from Other States?

    Yes, New Mexico enforces restraining orders from other states under the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution and the Uniform Interstate Enforcement of Domestic Violence Protection Orders. Both require states, including New Mexico, to recognize and enforce valid interstate court orders, including restraining orders.

    However, there are some conditions for enforcement:

    • A court with jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter must have issued the order.
    • The respondent must have received a copy of the order with proper notice.
    • The order must meet certain minimum standards, such as providing specific prohibitions and due process protections.
    • The order must be final. New Mexico does not enforce temporary ex-parte orders from other states.
    • The order must be registered with the appropriate New Mexico court or law enforcement agency to be enforceable within the state.

    Failure to meet these conditions may result in the restraining order not being recognized or enforced in New Mexico.

    Get Help Understanding Your Restraining Order 

    A strong support system is essential when navigating the tumultuous waters of a restraining order. Given the complexity of the situation, the assistance of the experienced attorneys at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices is vital.

    • Expert guidance on the most suitable type of order for your specific situation.
    • Streamlined assistance in filing petitions and preparing for court hearings, ensuring effective representation.
    • Strong representation for challenging restraining orders and protecting your rights throughout the process.
    • Valuable advice on navigating the legal complexities, allowing you to make informed choices.

    Contact NMCLO today for a free consultation. Our dedicated team, armed with insight and experience, will answer your questions and explore your options, allowing you to face the situation confidently and clearly.