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  • What Everyone Needs to Know about the New Mexico No-Bond Detention Law

    Posted on by JACK MKHITARIAN

    detentionWhen you are arrested, you assume that you will have a bail hearing and possibly be released on bond. After all, you have seen it countless times on TV and you know that bonds exist. What you might not know is that New Mexico has a law that can prevent you from being released with bond – meaning you could spend months in jail waiting for your court date.

    New Mexico legislature passed a law in 2006 that gives judges the authority to determine if you are a danger to the community or high-risk defendant. If the judge decides you are such a risk, then they can deny bail and hold you until your trial. Even if you could pay the bail amount in the statute, the judge uses his or her discretion to detain you without bond.

    How the Amendment Affects You in an Albuquerque Criminal Court Case

    Under the constitutional amendment passed, bail can be denied by the judge for a defendant if you are charged with a felony and the prosecution requests a no-bond hearing. In this hearing, the prosecution must show with clear and convincing evidence that your detainment would protect the community. Appeals to deny bail are given priority under this amendment. Therefore, the judge is required to listen and hear evidence.

    Under this same amendment, you can be released on bail if you are found to not be a flight risk or danger to society – even if you cannot afford the bond. You can request relief from the court for your bond amount, and the court will be required to rule on that bond quickly.

    What Does the No-Bond Detention Law Mean as a Defendant?

    The law ultimately affects how bonds are assigned for defendants in felony cases.

    The use of any fixed money bond amounts has stopped, however. Instead, judges use their discretion and follow the statute for stricter requirements to release a defendant before trial.

    If you are classified as high-risk, you may be detained without the option for bond. Also, the law changes how low-risk defendants are handled:

    Low-Risk Criminal Defendants

    Here is how the law affects you if you are classified as a low-risk defendant. To be a low-risk defendant, you must have strong ties to the community (i.e., a job, residence with obligations, family, friends, and support in place). You must have no risk of flight. And typically, your previous criminal record (if any) involves non-violent crimes. Therefore, the judge would not consider you at high risk for harming a member of the community while waiting for trial.

    Once classified, the amendment offers:

    • an option for release, even if you cannot afford the bond assigned by the court.
    • a pretrial risk assessment, which determines if you are likely to flee or be arrested again before trial.
    • the right for your attorney to appeal any bond decision made by the court.

    High-Risk Criminal Defendants

    Unfortunately, once you are classified as high-risk, your chances of being released with bond are low. Furthermore, the prosecution can request that you are kept without bail. You do not have to have a past criminal record to be considered high-risk.

    You can also be released and then reclassified as high-risk later, which means your bond is revoked and you are detained until your trial date. Therefore, just because you are released as a low-risk offender does not mean you are completely free of being reclassified later.

    As a high-risk defendant, the law does the following:

    • The prosecution has the right to request that a judge consider no release and no bond. No matter how much you can pay for the bond, the prosecutor has the authority to demand you remain detained.
    • Judges have the authority and may use discretion to amend conditions of your release or revoke it entirely if you commit another crime or violate any terms of your pre-trial release.
    • Defense attorneys and prosecutors have the right to appeal any decision made during the pre-trial hearing.
    • The judge cannot issue an overly high bond to keep you imprisoned instead of revoking bond altogether.

    How to Improve Your Chances of Being Classified as Low-Risk Defendant

    You can help improve the likelihood you are released on bond by:

    • Being Respectful in Court – Judges not only review the facts, but also what is in front of them. If you are rude, threatening, or otherwise disrespectful in court, the judge may feel that the prosecution’s plea to keep you in jail holds merit.
    • Bring Proof of Strong Ties – The stronger the ties to the community, the lower your risk of fleeing before your trial. Bring proof of those strong ties, including family members you will be staying with, employers who can vouch for your work history and current employment status, proof of residence, and anything that profoundly roots you in the community.
    • Prove You Are Not a Risk to Society – The most significant factor is your risk of committing another crime. If you have no criminal record, this can help tremendously. If you do have a criminal record, then your attorney needs to focus on the fact that they are non-violent and minor offenses. You must realize, even a history of misdemeanors could classify you as a high-risk defendant.
    • Bring a Defense Attorney – The prosecution might make a plea for you to be held without bail, but when you have a good defense attorney by your side, it will make a difference. Your attorney can show the judge you are not a risk, prove your ties, and help increase the chances you are not held without bail.

    Meet with a Defense Attorney before Your Bond Hearing Today

    If you have been arrested, contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. The attorneys at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices are here to help you – not only through the bond hearing, but the entire process. We work hard for our clients so that they receive the best possible outcome.

    Whether you are innocent, want to make a plea, or you need to explore your options, let our team help you find the right solution.

    Schedule a consultation today at 505-200-2982 or request more information online.