What Is the Difference Between Assault and Battery in New Mexico?
The terms “assault” and “battery” are often used in conjunction with each other. But according to New Mexico law, they are distinct crimes with penalties involving varying amounts of jail, probation, and fines. What is the difference between assault and battery in New Mexico? If you are confused about the difference, you have come to the right place, as we will discuss these differences in today’s article.
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What Is the Difference Between Assault and Battery?
Generally speaking, assault means threatening to strike someone or placing another in fear of getting hit. On the other hand, the crime of battery occurs when one person makes unwanted physical contact with another. Let’s delve into much greater detail to illustrate the difference.
What Is Assault?
New Mexico law recognizes three distinct crimes of assault. They are:
- Simple assault,
- Aggravated assault, and
- Assault with the intent to commit a violent felony.
Understanding the difference between these three theories of assault can put your charges in the proper context.
Assault, or simple assault, occurs when someone attempts to commit a battery upon another, threatens or menaces another while placing that person in fear of suffering an immediate battery, or uses insulting language impugning the person’s honor, delicacy, or reputation.
A few real-life examples of simple assault might help. You could face simple assault charges if:
- You threw a punch at someone and missed,
- You balled up your hand and threatened to punch someone, or
- You said something to another person that was so hurtful they felt threatened with violence.
Each of these theories of simple assault is a petty misdemeanor. A conviction for a petty misdemeanor carries up to a maximum six-month jail sentence, a $500 fine, and six months of probation.
Aggravated assault involves striking at another with a deadly weapon, committing an assault while wearing a disguise or mask or otherwise concealing your true identity, or assaulting another with the intent to commit a felony. Aggravated assault is a fourth-degree felony. The basic sentence for a conviction is 18 months in state prison.
Assault with the Intent to Commit a Violent Felony
Assault with the intent to commit a violent felony is the most serious of the crimes involving assault. Under New Mexico law, assault with the intent to commit a violent felony is assaulting another with the intent to kill, murder, maim, commit sexual penetration, robbery, or burglary. Assault with the intent to commit a violent felony is a third-degree felony. The basic sentence is three years in state prison.
What Is Battery?
The crime of battery involves unlawfully and intentionally touching or application of force to another person in a rude, insolent, or angry manner. There will be no crime if the touching was unintentional or if legal justification exists for the contact. For example, accidentally bumping into someone in a crowded restaurant may be considered rude, but it is not a crime because the contact was unintentional. On the other hand, shoving someone out of your way could be a battery. Similarly, pushing someone out of the way of an oncoming car is not a crime if done to save the person from injury.
Battery, like simple assault, is a petty misdemeanor.
New Mexico law recognizes the crime of aggravated battery as well. Aggravated battery occurs when one person touches or applies force to another with the intent to injure them. The penalty for aggravated battery depends on the injuries to the alleged victim.
An aggravated battery that causes painful yet temporary disfigurement or impairment of a bodily function—if done in a matter unlikely to cause serious harm or death—is a misdemeanor. Misdemeanor offenses carry up to one year in jail.
Conversely, an aggravated battery that results in great bodily harm, inflicts an injury with a deadly weapon, or could result in death or great bodily harm is a third-degree felony. Third-degree felonies carry a penalty of up to three years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine.
Other Crimes of Assault or Battery
Assault and battery crimes carry more serious penalties if they occur between people in a domestic relationship or when the alleged victim holds a certain professional position. These crimes use the concepts of assault and battery, as we discussed above.
A household member is a current or former spouse, parent, present or former stepparent, present or former parent-in-law, grandparent, grandparent-in-law, co-parents of a child, or people involved in a continuing personal relationship. A continuing personal relationship involves people in a dating or intimate relationship. If you commit an assault or battery on such a person, it is considered domestic violence as well. The punishments for assault and battery crimes involving domestic violence are more severe.
The same is true for people holding certain professional positions in society.
You could face enhanced penalties for allegedly committing a crime involving an assault or battery involving people who are:
- School personnel,
- Athletic officials,
- Medical personnel,
- Pregnant women, and
- Judges and their families.
It is important to your defense to work with a skilled and experienced criminal defense lawyer.
What Is the Difference Between Assault and Battery in New Mexico in Terms of Defenses?
The best defense for your case requires a thorough analysis of the facts of the alleged incident and your background. However, we will look at whether you could raise the issue of self-defense or other legal justification for your acts. Additionally, we might be able to attack the complaining witness’s credibility if that person fabricated the crime or is exaggerating. In other cases, convincing the judge to give you a conditional discharge might be your best option.
Experienced Assault and Battery Defense in New Mexico
Contact our dedicated assault and battery defense lawyers from the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices today for a free consultation. We have defended the rights of people like you since 1997 and achieved outstanding results. Call us today so we can get to work protecting your interests.