What is The Law On Murder In New Mexico And What Are The Punishments For It?
While murder is a serious criminal offense in the state of New Mexico, it is divided into 2 separate categories:
- 1st-degree murder
- 2nd-degree murder
First-degree murder in New Mexico
It is the most severe kind of murder in New Mexico. First-degree murder is defined as taking someone else’s life through a premeditated, deliberate, or willful act. However, there are specific circumstances when even a killing took place intentionally, it may not be regarded as a 1st-degree murder because of the presence of a mitigating circumstance.
An example of this would be when a husband returns home and finds his wife betraying him. The man may be furious and decide to shoot the wife and kill her at that instance. In this instance, the husband killed his wife under the moment of passion and the court can charge him with 2nd-degree murder instead of a 1st-degree murder because of the mitigating circumstance.
First-Degree murder can also include homicides that took place while attempting to commit or committing a felony or performing an act which is highly risky for the lives of other people. The act also shows that the killer has a depraved mind and does not have regard for people’s lives.
In 2009, the state removed the death penalty for committing first-degree murders. Hence, a person found guilty of the 1st-degree murder in New Mexico may not get be sentenced to a death penalty.
Acts prohibited in New Mexico
A 1st-degree murder involves taking the life of some other individual when any of these circumstances are applicable:
- During the attempted or actual commission of a felony
- A killing that was premeditated, deliberate, and willful
- An act that is highly threatening to someone else’s life and there is evidence that the killer has a depraved mind with no regard for the life of a human
Second-degree murder in New Mexico
As discussed before, 1st-degree murder is an act of killing a person and such killing was premeditated, deliberate, and willful. The criminal offense of a 1st-degree murder can be lowered to a 2nd-degree murder if there is a mitigating circumstance wherein the killer was:
- Behaving under the heat of the moment
- Entangled in a fight all of a sudden
- Adequately provoked
Penalties for murder in New Mexico
If a person is convicted of 1st-degree murder in New Mexico, it is regarded as a capital felony penalized by a life imprisonment term minus parole. If a person is found guilty of 2nd-degree murder in the state, he/she is said to have committed a 2nd-degree felony and can be penalized by a maximum prison term of 15 years and a maximum fine of 12,500 USD. However, if a person is found guilty of committing a 2nd-degree homicide of a kid, he/she can be penalized by a life imprisonment term and a maximum fine of 17,500 USD.
Defenses for 1st-degree murder in New Mexico
- When the person acted while responding to a serious provocation, suddenly because of anger, or to defend against a sudden fight
- When the prosecution could not prove an adequate motive for killing like when the person was mentally retarded while murdering someone
- When a public employee or officer caused the death while performing a court order or to curb activities violating the law in the state
- When the individual was acting with legal authority/could not prove an adequate motive for the murder
- If the death occurred when an officer was acting according to a court order to arrest, prevent an escape, to prevent death or severe death, or resistance to law