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Albuquerque Homicide, Attempted Murder Attorney

Defense Lawyers with the Experience and Expertise to Defend Homicide and Attempted Murder Charges in New Mexico

Homicide and attempted murder charges in New Mexico often seem like the highest tiered criminal offense a person can commit.  However, a criminal charge on suspicion of homicide or attempted murder is not a conviction and it is important to contact an experienced attempted murder or homicide defense attorney in Albuquerque who can protect your rights in court rather than give up.

Homicide in New Mexico

New Mexico law defines homicide as any of the following:

  • Willful and premeditated killing;
  • Killing that occurred while committing a felony (felony murder); or
  • Killing by engaging in extremely reckless conduct with disregard for human life (depraved mind).

Felony murder includes murder committed during the following types of felonies:

Even if the murder is an unintentional part of the felony itself, a person can still be charged with murder if it was a foreseeable possibility that someone could be killed during the crime.  This is often the case in burglaries committed by a team of people.  If one person commits the murder, everyone involved in the pursuit of the crime itself could be liable for the felony murder committed.

Homicide Punishments

Homicide convictions in New Mexico are subject to the highest possible charges of capital felony.  This includes potential life imprisonment for any crime classified as such.  Homicide offenses can also be classified as a first degree felony or a second degree felony, with up to 18 years or 9 years in prison, respectively.

Attempted Murder

Attempted murder is defined in New Mexico as trying to kill another person.  This could happen intentionally and deliberately, or it could occur as the result of the reckless disregard for human life.  This is quite different from homicide in New Mexico, which is defined as the actual killing of another with full intent.  Attempted murder charges vary quite largely depending on the facts of the case.  This can include any pre-meditation, intent, weapon used during the crime, and the nature of the attack itself.

Attempted Murder Punishment

Attempted murder is a second degree felony which carries up to 15 years in prison and a potential fine up to $20,000.  However, the court can look at other factors in the case, such as whether prior assaults or batteries occurred before the current charge and whether the specific incident was linked to any other crimes, or whether the crime involved a law enforcement officer.  These factors can lead to increased charges and punishment ranges which can be vital to your case.  Each factor is crucial to the case itself and an experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to walk you through the charges and the court process.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How does a plea bargain work?

A plea bargain is a contract between you and the prosecutor. You agree to plead guilty to a charge that carries a lighter penalty (meaning there will be no trial), in exchange for the prosecutor’s recommendation that the judge accept your plea. The judge usually accepts the prosecutor’s recommendation.

What happens to my case if there is a “hung jury”?

A hung jury occurs when the jury cannot agree on your guilt. There are two possible consequences:

  • The prosecutor seeks a new trial; or
  • The prosecutor drops charges against you and abandons the case.

Can I apply for a new trial after conviction?

Yes, you can, although you will need a good reason for a new trial to be granted. Common reasons include defects in the original trial (unfair jury instructions, for example) and new evidence indicating your innocence of the crime. New trial petitions can take time to process.

What are some defenses against a homicide charge?

Some common defenses are:

  • Self-defense
  • Defense of others
  • Mistaken identity (you were wrongly identified as the killer)
  • Accident: You did not intend to kill the victim. Depending on the circumstances, you could win a complete acquittal or your charge could be reduced — from murder to manslaughter, for example.

What do I need to prove to establish self-defense?

The five principles of self-defense are:

  • You must not have initiated the conflict with the victim (in most cases)
  • You must be threatened with immediate death or great bodily harm
  • Your use of force must be proportionate – usually, you cannot maintain self-defense if you shot an unarmed attacker, for example
  • Your use of force must be necessary to defend yourself (but see the “stand your ground” rule below
  • Your actions under the circumstances, taken as a whole, must have been “reasonable.”

Does New Mexico have a “stand your ground” rule?

Yes. The “stand your ground” law applies when you kill someone who was threatening your life, even though you were in a position to safely retreat instead of killing the person who threatened you – for example, you kill an armed burglar in your living room even though you could have safely retreated to your bedroom.

Does New Mexico have a death penalty?

No. New Mexico abolished the death penalty in 2009. The most severe sentence you can face under New Mexico law is life in prison without parole. If you were sentenced to death before 2009, however, you can still be executed.

What is the exclusionary rule and how can it help me?

Under the exclusionary rule, no evidence that the police seized illegally can be used against you. That doesn’t necessarily guarantee you an acquittal – you can still be convicted if the prosecutor has enough evidence even without the excluded evidence.

What does the prosecutor have to prove to convict me of attempted homicide?

The elements of attempted homicide are:

  • An intention to commit homicide;
  • An overt act in furtherance of the crime (shooting at someone for example); and
  • Failure to successfully kill the target.

Albuquerque Homicide, Attempted Murder Defense Law Firm

If you have been charged with homicide or attempted murder, do not hesitate to contact our New Mexico Criminal Law Offices as soon as you are able. You can reach us at 505-200-2982. The sooner you hire an experienced attorney, the sooner we can begin to work on your case and flesh out all important details.  Every fact is important for case which carries such severe consequences.  Homicide charges especially become difficult to defend the later you consult an attorney because attorneys need to speak to any eyewitnesses, develop a case, and abide by the court’s timeline.  Homicide charges can result in a life-changing sentence which should not be left to chance.