If you are charged with assault or battery in New Mexico, you are up against some serious potential consequences. The state takes accusations of violent crimes very seriously, and it is likely to try to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law. The team at Simon A. Kubiak, Attorney At Law, PC, has extensive experience helping the accused fight charges both in and out of court, and we have a long track record of success. If you want to avoid a negative outcome, contact our team to explore your defense options and to begin building an effective strategy.
New Mexico Assault and Battery Laws
Though often used interchangeably, assault and battery are not one in the same. In New Mexico, assault and battery are two separate offenses that carry separate punishments. Though both crimes involve some level of violence, the distinction lies in whether or not physical contact actually occurs. According to state laws, “assault” occurs when one person’s actions causes another person to reasonable fear for his or her safety. “Battery” occurs when one person uses actual force or violence upon someone else. This distinction is important during sentencing, as battery carries harsher penalties than assault.
Types of Assault and Battery
New Mexico law further distinguishes between the various types of assault and battery. Per state statutes, there are five levels of assault or battery that a person can commit:
- Misdemeanor Assault: Misdemeanor assault occurs when one person engages in verbal threats or other types of intimidating conduct for the purposes of striking fear into another individual; attempting to touch someone in a harmful or offensive manner; or making offensive remarks about another person’s gender, reputation, sexual orientation, religion or race. This offense is punishable by up to six months in jail or probation and/or a $500 fine.
- Aggravated Assault: Aggravated assault. Is a felony and occurs when someone uses a deadly weapon to strike fear into another person and/or when a person intentionally assaults someone in the attempt to commit a felony. This crime is punishable by up to 18 months in prison and/or a $5,000 fine.
- Simple Battery: Simple battery is a misdemeanor and occurs when an individual unlawfully touches or hits another in a manner that the victim construes as offensive, harmful, rude or forceful.
- Misdemeanor Aggravated Battery: If a person touches or hits another person with the intent to cause physical harm, the crime is considered “aggravated.” Misdemeanor aggravated battery is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and a year of imprisonment.
- Felony Aggravated Battery: This crime involves the use of a deadly weapon or deadly force to cause or try to cause great bodily injury. If convicted, the offender faces up to three years in prison, a $5,000 fine or both. If a firearm was involved, the state will add a one-year firearm enhancement to the charge.
Defenses To Assault and Battery
Because both assault and battery charges hinge on “intent,” the best defense to either charge is lack of intent. If you can prove that you did not mean to cause harm or fear of harm, the state does not have a case. An example of this defense in action would be if you accidentally bumped a person in a crowded bar or store, or if you made a mock, almost playful threat. You may also claim that your physical contact was in no way meant to be offensive or harmful, which may be the case if you playfully thump a buddy on the arm.
Another defense to battery would be lack of ability to cause harm. For instance, a person may say you pushed him or her, but circumstantial evidence indicates that there is no way you could have touched the alleged victim due to lack of proximity.
Another common defense to assault and battery is instigation or self-defense. If another person instigates the aggressive behavior and you retort, the state may have no choice to drop the charges. Likewise, if you act in self-defense, the state may view your actions as reasonable and justified.
When To Hire an Assault and Battery Defense Attorney
You should hire an Albuquerque criminal defense attorney as soon as you learn of the charges against you. Though you may feel that your innocence alone will be enough to convince the prosecution to drop the charges, the state may try to make an example of you and pursue the harshest sentence possible. The team at Simon A. Kubiak, Attorney At Law, PC, has extensive experience building strong defenses to a variety of criminal charges, including assault and battery. We know how the prosecution thinks, and we know how to use the law to our clients’ advantage.