Being the victim of a crime is an unsettling experience, at the very least. Whether it’s minor property damage or something more serious like a violent crime, the incident can dramatically change your life. This can be especially true for victims of an assault.
Sometimes, it’s impossible to measure the far-reaching effects of assault injuries. From minor cuts and bruises to broken bones and internal injuries, some victims never fully recover.
While you can’t go back and avoid the assault, it’s now a part of your life. You can start getting some closure when you know the potential legal consequences the perpetrator is facing.
What Is Considered An Assault In New Mexico
An assault is defined as an intentional threat. This can be in the form of physical violence or the intentional use of words that purposefully insult your character. If someone tries to punch you and misses, this is considered an assault. So is threatening to beat someone up. Even telling a person you’re going to break their arm is a type of assault.
Basically, under N.M. Stat. Ann. § 30-3-1, an assault occurs when the victim is in fear for their safety—this is a broad definition but it also serves a vital purpose. The broad statute works to discourage all types of assault, ensuring the safety of everyone.
Penalties For Assault Convictions
The state of New Mexico recognizes different types of assault ranging from simple to aggravated. An individual can also be convicted of an assault with intent to commit a violent felony. The punishment they can receive varies depending on the specific crime that occured.
Penalties For Simple Assault
Simple assault convictions typically result in a misdemeanor. Punishment can include a $500 fine and up to six months in jail. Most first-time offenders only face fines and probation, but this varies on a case-to-case basis.
Assaults against a protected victim are also misdemeanors. But who are protected victims? School faculty, sports officials, and healthcare personnel are examples of protected victims. Even though this is a misdemeanor, the penalties are a little stiffer; if convicted, $1,000 fines are possible, along with up to one year in jail.
When it comes to assaults against household members, this often falls under domestic violence laws. In other words, it’s not an assault case but a domestic violence charge.
Penalties For Aggravated Assault
If someone threatens or willfully and intentionally harms another person, it’s often considered aggravated assault—the assault isn’t an accident, it is an intentional act. This type of assault can be charged as either a third or fourth-degree felony, and the penalties are stiffer compared to a misdemeanor.
Assault with a deadly weapon, think knife or gun, for example, is a degree felony; the law doesn’t differentiate if the weapon is brandished or concealed. A brick, pipe, or almost any other item can also be considered a deadly weapon. The statute focuses on intent not the type of weapon. If convicted, punishment can include a $5,000 fine and/or 18 months in prison. Since it’s a felony, most individuals end up in state prison rather than a county jail.
The fine for aggravated assault on a protected victim is also $5,000. However, since it’s a third-degree felony, prison time can be around three years—this is an example of a basic third-degree felony conviction. Fines and prison time can vary based on the particulars of the case.
Penalties For Assault With Intent To Commit A Violent Felony
If an individual commits assault with the intent to rob, murder, or commit a burglary, or sexual assault, it’s considered a second or third-degree felony. An example is firing a gun at someone with the intent to kill. If the shot misses the intended target, it’s an assault with intent to commit a violent felony.
In general, aiming the weapon at someone is an assault, and pulling the trigger is a felony. If someone is threatened with violence unless they perform a sexual act, this also classifies as a violent assault.
When someone is convicted of an assault with intent to commit a violent felony, penalties can range from a $5,000 fine to up to three years in prison. This type of assault is classified as a third-degree felony. If the assault is against a protected person, it’s now a second-degree felony. This can mean a $10,000 fine and a nine-year prison sentence.
What To Do If You’re The Victim Of An Assault
The first thing to do after an assault is to call the local authorities. Don’t waste time searching for a non-emergency number; this is a valid emergency so call 911. Let the operator know if your injuries are severe so they know to send medical personnel.
Provide the authorities with all of the details of your situation, including any that may potentially be embarrassing. The police aren’t going to care if you were flirting with someone at the bar before the assault occurred—remember, you’re the victim and in no way to blame for the assault.
Document Your Injuries
Documenting your injuries is important for a couple of reasons; primarily, the prosecuting attorney may use your documentation in their court case. If you decide to retain an attorney and sue for damages in civil court, the documentation can help support your case.
Keep copies of your medical records, along with any receipts. You never know what may be important to your case.
Contact An Attorney
Even if you’re unsure about seeking civil damages, it’s still a good idea to talk to an attorney. Most consultations are free, so you don’t have to worry about another bill. Talking to an attorney may be what you need to decide if you’re going forward with a civil case. An attorney will also let you know if you have a case to proceed with.
Don’t Discuss Your Case
Discussing your case with your attorney and the prosecutor is fine. However, don’t discuss the details of your case with anyone else. Anything you say can be used in civil court.
Don’t Let An Assault Control Your Life
Being the victim of an assault can lead to profound and lasting impacts on one’s life, both emotionally and physically. Seeking justice and holding the perpetrator accountable for their actions is crucial in reclaiming your power and beginning the healing process.
Engaging with a knowledgeable attorney to discuss your case is essential; they can provide expert guidance on whether going to court is the most suitable course of action for your specific situation, ensuring that your path to recovery is supported by legal empowerment.