It's important that survivors of sexual abuse and their families are aware of their legal rights as victims. If you or someone you love has recently become a victim, you may be wondering:
- How will the criminal justice system punish the perpetrator?
- Do we have other legal options if the jury doesn't convict?
- Can third parties be held liable for enabling sexual abuse?
Our New Mexico sexual assault victims' lawyers specialize in helping families like yours. We know what you're going through, and we know how to help.
Organizations, businesses, and certain professionals who fail to prevent or report sexual abuse need to be held accountable for their negligence.
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If you or someone close to you recently suffered as the victim of a sexual offense in New Mexico, you may be wondering what types of penalties the offender may face if convicted of his or her crimes. It’s natural to be curious about the criminal procedures, as seeing a perpetrator taken off the streets can be comforting for some victims.
Criminal Sexual Assault & Abuse Statutes In New Mexico
In New Mexico, sexual crimes are generally prosecuted under the laws of criminal sexual penetration and criminal sexual contact. We’ve defined some of the terms of these laws in the section below, but be aware that sexual crime statutes change often. You’ll need to speak with an experienced New Mexico sexual assault victims’ lawyer if you want to get a better idea of how much time your offender will face in prison.
Survivors should also be aware that civil courts are available to help victims where criminal courts don’t. In a criminal case, the prosecution is simply concerned with convicted the guilty parties, rather than providing support for the victims of the crime. And far too often, the police fail to even arrest, let alone prosecute sexual offenders.
A civil sexual assault lawsuit can help punish offenders and negligent third parties financially when the criminal courts fail and allows a second chance at justice for survivors. Our New Mexico sexual abuse victims' lawyers can help you learn more about seeking justice through a civil lawsuit - get in touch with us today for a free consultation.
Criminal Sexual Penetration
In New Mexico, crimes that meet the definition of rape are usually prosecuted under a law called criminal sexual penetration. A person is guilty of criminal sexual penetration if he or she forces another person to engage in sexual intercourse, oral sex, or anal sex. These charges can be charged under one of four degrees, which depend on circumstances:
Criminal sexual penetration in the first degree involves either of the following circumstances:
- A victim under 13 years old; or
- Through the use of force or coercion which causes serious bodily harm or mental anguish for the victim
If this crime causes the death of a child, the punishment will be life in prison and a fine up to $17,500. If no death occurs, the penalty will be 19 years in prison and a fine up to $15,000. If the offender has another previous conviction for a crime of sexual violence, the punishment is a mandatory life sentence.
All criminal sexual penetration involving:
- The use of force or coercion on a child between 13-18 years old
- An inmate victim in a correctional facility or jail when the offender is in a position of authority over the inmate
- Through the use of force or coercion which results in an injury to the victim
- Offenses involving the aid or abetting of at least one other person
- Offenses which occurred during the commission of any other felony; or
- When the offender was armed with a deadly weapon.
If anyone died or the sexual offense involved a child victim, the punishment for second-degree criminal sexual penetration is 15 years in prison and a possible fine up to $15,000. In other cases, the sentence is still up to 15 years in prison but with a maximum $12,500 fine. If the offender has another previous conviction for a violent sexual offense, it will be a mandatory life sentence.
In cases involving criminal sexual penetration without any of the specific circumstances listed under the previous statutes, the charge will be in the third degree.
If the crime caused the death of any person or involved a sexual offense committed against the child, the sentence will be 6 years in prison and a possible fine up to $5,000. In all other cases, the penalty is 3 years in prison and a fine up to $5,000.
Any criminal sexual penetration:
- Not defined as in the first, second, or third degree committed against a child 13-16 years old when the offender is at least 18 years old and at least four years older than the child; or
- Committed against a child 13-18 years old when the offender is a school employee, school health care provider, or school volunteer who is at least 18 years old and at least four years older than the victim
Fourth-degree criminal sexual penetration is punishable by 18 months in prison and possible fine up to $5,000.
Aggravated Criminal Sexual Penetration
A person is guilty of aggravated criminal sexual penetration if he or she commits any criminal sexual penetration against a child under 13 years old with the intent to kill or “with a depraved mind regardless of human life.”
The sentence for aggravated criminal sexual penetration is life in prison and a possible fine up to $17,500.
Criminal Sexual Contact
Sexual offenses which don’t involve any penetration are usually prosecuted as criminal sexual contact. In other states, these offenses might be classified as sexual assault. Criminal sexual contact includes any intentional touching of intimate parts without the other person’s consent or causing that person to touch another person’s intimate parts without consent. These offenses are usually charged as either misdemeanors or fourth-degree felonies.
Criminal sexual contact which occurs under any of the following conditions is considered a fourth-degree felony in New Mexico:
- Through the use of force or coercion that causes a personal injury to the victim
- When the offender was assisted by at least one other person
- When the offender was armed with a deadly weapon
This felony is punishable by 18 months in prison with a possible fine up to $5,000.
Any criminal sexual contact which occurs through the use of force or coercion, but without any of the conditions listed under fourth-degree felony, qualifies as a misdemeanor charge. This offense is punishable by up to one year in county jail, a fine up to $1,000, or both.
Criminal Sexual Contact Of A Minor
In New Mexico, offenses involving criminal sexual contact against children are prosecuted under separate laws from offenses committed against adults. A person who is guilty of criminal sexual contact of a minor can be charged in one of three degrees:
Second Or Third Degree
A person is considered guilty of criminal sexual contact of a minor in the second or third degree if he or she subjects a child to criminal sexual contact when the victim is under 13 years old or if the victim is 13-18 years old and any of the following circumstances apply:
- The person is in a position of authority over the child and uses this authority to coerce the child to submit
- The person uses force or coercion that results in an injury to the child
- The person is assisted by one or more other people
- The person was armed with a deadly weapon
Second-degree criminal sexual contact of a minor is punishable by a mandatory minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 15 years in prison, along with a possible fine up to $12,500. For third degree convictions, the sentence is 6 years and a fine up to $5,000.
Any criminal sexual contact not defined in the previous section, perpetrated with force or coercion on a child 13-18 years old is considered a fourth-degree charge. Criminal sexual contact of a minor in the fourth degree is punishable by 18 months in prison and a possible fine up to $5,000.
Enticement Of A Child
New Mexico prosecutes sexual predators who unsuccessfully attempt to sexually abuse children under a law called enticement of a child. A person can be convicted of this offense if they posess any child under 16 inside of any vehicle, building, room, or secluded place with the intention of committing a sexual offense. It also applies to cases involving predators who entice, persuade, or attempt in any way to lure a child into a vehicle, building, room, or secluding place for criminal sexual contact.
This offense is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 364 days in jail, a fine up to $1,000, and up to one year of probation.