Albuquerque Assault & Battery Defense Lawyers
Experienced Legal Defense for Assault and Battery Charges in New Mexico
Battery and assault are often used simultaneously to refer to the same event. Each state has different definitions for the two, leading to much of the confusion as the media and pop culture often use the two terms to refer to the same offense. However, assault and battery are both serious offenses and quite distinct in New Mexico. Contact the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices assault and battery lawyers in Albuquerque if you or a loved one is seeking legal defense.
Assault is defined under New Mexico law as one of the following offenses:
- Attempting to commit a battery on another person;
- Threatening or displaying conduct that another person interprets as believing a battery will occur; or
- Using assaulting language to another which might harm their honor or reputation;
- Assault is generally considered a petty misdemeanor with a punishment range of up to 6 months in jail and up to a $500 fine.
However, aggravated assault is much more serious and involves one of the following offenses:
- Unlawfully assaulting or striking at someone with a deadly weapon;
- Committing an assault while wearing a mask or otherwise disguised; or
- Willfully and intentionally assaulting someone with the intent to commit a felony (e.g. robbery, burglary, murder).
Aggravated assault can lead to a fourth degree felony charge, with a punishment range of up to 18 months in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.
Battery is quite different from assault in New Mexico because it involves actual touching. Assault typically involves only the attempt to commit a battery or the threatening of a battery. Battery is defined under New Mexico law as the “unlawful, intentional touching or application of force to another in a rude, insolent, or angry manner.” Battery is classified as a petty misdemeanor with up to 6 months in jail and a fine up to $500.
Aggravated battery is also quite different from both assault and ordinary battery because it is the touching of a person with the intent to injure. If you do commit aggravated battery and it results in great bodily harm or you commit aggravated battery with a deadly weapon or in a way that could cause bodily harm, you could face up to a third degree felony charge. If you commit aggravated battery that does not cause death or great bodily injury but does result in painful temporary disfigurement or loss or impairment, it is typically charged as a misdemeanor offense.
Defense of Assault and Battery Charges
The key to most assault and battery charges lies on the intent to commit the alleged offense. Battery can often be alleged by the simple accidental touching of another person. This happens on a near daily basis in crowded bus stops, concerts, and elevators. It simply takes an offended person to contact the authorities. Assault works in much the same way and a person can simply take a mock “threat” to heart, contacting authorities. It is important that you contact an experienced Albuquerque criminal defense attorney immediately after charges are filed in order to protect your criminal record. Do not think that you can fight petty misdemeanor charges on your own – if you are convicted with such an offense multiple times, it can heighten a later charge to a misdemeanor or even a felony charge.
New Mexico Criminal Defense Law Firm
Attitudes toward assault and battery have changed dramatically. Two or three decades ago, getting into a bar fight was not likely to result in any charge more serious than disorderly conduct, as long as nobody was seriously hurt. Now, however, simply slapping someone in the face, or even touching them in a painless but insolent manner, can get you incarcerated.
Both assault and battery can be prosecuted as either misdemeanors or felonies. Since certain legal terms such as “great bodily harm” and “disguise” are subject to interpretation, how they are interpreted can exert tremendous impact on your case. Where self-defense is asserted, the interpretation of legal terms such as “reasonable” can make the difference between incarceration and acquittal.
We’ve Got Your Back
At New Mexico Criminal Law Offices, there is very little that can happen in a criminal prosecution that we haven’t seen before. Years of hands-on experience have taught us the nuances of the New Mexico criminal justice system – in fact, each of us has appeared at one time or another in just about every New Mexico court, at both the state and federal level.
To be honest, prosecutors don’t like us very much because we make their jobs so much more difficult. And of course, that is exactly what we expect ourselves to be doing. All told, comparing original charges with the ultimate disposition of our clients’ cases, we have saved our clients a grand total of thousands of years of prison time.
Why You Need Expert Representation
The New Mexico criminal justice can be characterized in two ways – by its complexity, and by the aggressiveness of its prosecutors. In fact, judges have been known to warn criminal defendants that it is no wiser to attempt to represent yourself against criminal charges than it is to attempt to perform surgery on yourself. Now is simply no time to go it alone or to rely on “my cousin Vinny.”
Our Areas of Practice
DUI: New Mexico prosecutors aggressively prosecute DUI defendants. A conviction can result in jail time, a driver’s license suspension, a fine, and other penalties. For many people, a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 doesn’t even “feel” drunk – yet, you can be convicted of DUI with a BAC even lower than that.
Domestic Violence: Because domestic violence is a hot-button political issue, defendants without aggressive representation are often treated unfairly. You will face a temporary restraining order, for example, that might even temporarily evict you from your own home. Unfortunately, false accusations are common, because they are often used to gain advantage in divorce or child custody proceedings.
Robbery, Burglary and Larceny: Robbery refers to theft that was accomplished by force or the threat of force; burglary involves a home invasion for the purpose of theft; and larceny refers to theft not involving force or home invasion. All three of these offenses can be prosecuted as felonies under the right circumstances.
Homicide: Although New Mexico abolished the death sentence in 2009, “life in prison” is still imposed quite frequently in homicide cases. Under the felony murder rule, it is even possible to be convicted of a murder committed by someone else without your advance knowledge. The extensive involvement of a skilled criminal defense lawyer is an absolute must in homicide cases.
White Collar Crimes: White collar crimes are nonviolent crimes motivated by the prospect of financial gain. Examples include identity theft, pyramid schemes, computer crimes, and money laundering. Some criminal statutes are written so broadly that you can be charged with a white-collar crime for conduct you didn’t even know was illegal.
Larceny/Shoplifting: Larceny refers to theft without force, the threat of force, or a home invasion (these crimes are classified separately). It can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor, as in petty shoplifting cases, or as a felony if the value of the item is high. Penalties vary greatly, depending on value.
Drug Crimes: Unfortunately, our nation’s prisons are filled with people convicted of drug crimes, including simple possession with no intent to distribute. Penalties can be astonishingly harsh – years in prison for possession of certain drugs, and possibly decades in prison for distribution, especially if mandatory minimum sentencing applies.
Sex Crimes: A conviction for a sex crime can get you stigmatized for life – even after release from incarceration, you will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life. Unfortunately, false accusations of sex offenses are seen by some unscrupulous people as an effective way to smear someone’s good name.
Probation Violations: The conditions of probation can be onerous – you might even be ordered to avoid associating with certain people, for example. If you violate your probation, however, you could end up spending more time incarcerated than if you had never been granted probation in the first place.
Other Practice Areas: The foregoing list of practice areas represents only a sample of the types of cases we handle. We also handle cases involving resisting arrest, child pornography, child molestation, minors in possession of alcohol and many more charges.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How does a plea bargain work?
A plea bargain is a deal between the defendant and the prosecutor, in which the defendant agrees to plead guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for the prosecutor’s recommendation to the judge to accept the guilty plea. Although the court does not have to accept the prosecutor’s recommendation, it almost always does.
What are some defenses against battery charges?
Some of the most common defenses include:
- Self-defense or defense of others: This defense requires a reasonable fear of harm.
- Defense of property: This defense is quite limited.
- Consent: You might be able to use this to defend yourself against a sex-related battery charge.
What constitutes a “deadly weapon” Under New Mexico law?
An object is a “deadly weapon” if it can cause death or great bodily harm, and if i is used or brandished in such a manner. Examples of “deadly weapons” include:
- Brass knuckles
- Steel-toed boots
- Baseball bats
What is “great bodily harm” under New Mexico law?
“Great bodily harm” includes:
- An injury that is highly likely to be fatal;
- An injury that causes visible disfigurement, such as a facial scar;
- Loss of a limb;
- Loss of a body organ; or
- Certain injuries that cause permanent or long-term impairment.
What are “protected victims?”
Penalties for aggravated assault or battery increase significantly if the victim is classified as a “protected victim. “Protected victims” include:
- On-duty school officials
- On-duty sports officials
- On-duty health care workers (doctors, etc.)
Conviction of assault or battery against a protected victim will upgrade a misdemeanor assault or battery charge to a felony.
What happens when the prosecutor alleges that “aggravating circumstances” are present?
“Aggravating circumstances” include particularly brutal or cruel behavior. Once the prosecutor makes this allegation, a separate hearing will be held to determine whether aggravating circumstances were present. If they are found, your prison sentence could be increased by up to four years.
What is a conditional discharge?
A conditional discharge is the best possible outcome next to a dismissal or an outright acquittal. Under a conditional discharge, you agree to certain conditions, such as counseling or probation. If you meet these conditions for a set period, your charges will be dismissed and you will avoid a conviction on your record.
What is the statute of limitations?
The statute of limitations sets the deadline by which a prosecutor must file charges. The limitations period normally begins running when the crime is committed, and continues for:
- Two years for a misdemeanor.
- Five years for a third- or fourth-degree felony.
- Six years for a second-degree felony.
- Forever for a first-degree felony.
If I am convicted, will I have to pay restitution?
You will have to pay restitution for the victim’s expenses such as medical bills, unless you serve the maximum prison time for the offense. You can also be sued in a separate civil lawsuit, although you won’t be forced to pay the same expenses twice.
Prosecutors Are Not Invincible
As criminal defense lawyers, we cannot make absolute guarantees, any more than a doctor can absolutely guarantee a cure. We can, however, guarantee you aggressive, intelligent representation that takes advantage of our nearly three decades of combined experience. We will take your case just as seriously as if we were being prosecuted instead of you.
No matter how hopeless things may seem right now, you never know when a break in the case might come – evidence against you may have been illegally seized, for example, or a key witness may be discredited or refuse to cooperate. Now is the time to take heart, and take action.
Contact Us for Your Free Initial Case Evaluation
If you are being investigated for assault or battery, or if you have already been charged with one of these offenses, call us at 505-375-4765 or complete our online contact form to schedule a meeting.