New Mexico Domestic Violence Laws

Learn how New Mexico law defines and punishes domestic violence.

By , Attorney · Mitchell Hamline School of Law
Updated 6/06/2024

In New Mexico, domestic violence can land a person with criminal charges, protection orders, and firearm restrictions.

New Mexico's Laws on Domestic Violence

New Mexico, like most states, has civil and criminal domestic violence laws. Civil laws allow victims to seek protection orders from the courts under what's called the Family Violence Protection Act. Only government prosecutors can file domestic violence criminal charges under the state's Crimes Against Household Members Act.

Crimes Against Household Members Act

New Mexico's criminal laws prohibit domestic violence committed against a household member.

Household members include current and former spouses, persons involved in dating or intimate relationships, co-parents of a child, parents and grandparents, and current and former stepparents, parents-in-laws and grandparents-in-laws.

Domestic violence crimes include assault, battery, and property damage committed against a household member. Other domestic violence crimes include aggravated stalking and violation of an order of protection.

Civil Family Violence Protection Act

Under the civil protection laws, New Mexico uses the term "domestic abuse," which it defines as acts of physical harm, emotional distress, threats, harassment, stalking, sexual abuse, or property damage committed against a household member.

A victim of domestic abuse can ask the court for an order of protection that prohibits the abuser from harming the victim. This order can also prohibit the abuser from possessing a firearm and require the abuser to move out of a shared home. Violating this order is a crime (discussed below).

(N.M. Stat. §§ 30-3-11, 40-13-2, 40-13-5 (2024).)

Domestic Violence Crimes and Penalties in New Mexico

Assault and battery are the most common domestic violence offenses.

Battery and Aggravated Battery Against a Household Member

Domestic battery involves the intentional and unlawful touching of a household member. Penalties range from misdemeanors to third-degree felonies. The penalty depends primarily on the defendant's intent, type of force, and resulting harm.

Misdemeanor battery is an unlawful and intentional touching or application of force against a household member done in a rude or angry manner. Shoving, slapping, hair pulling, and grabbing someone are examples of battery offenses.

Misdemeanor aggravated battery. The crime becomes aggravated battery if the person intends to injure the household member. Aggravated battery resulting in bodily harm involving painful but temporary impairment is a misdemeanor. Examples of this type of bodily harm can include bruising, cuts, and scratches.

Felony aggravated battery. Aggravated battery increases to a third-degree felony if:

  • the victim suffered or could have suffered great bodily harm
  • the defendant used a deadly weapon, or
  • the defendant strangled or suffocated the victim.

Examples of great bodily harm can include gunshot or stab wounds, broken bones, serious scars from burns or lacerations, severe bruising, internal damage to organs, or injuries requiring surgery or hospitalization. Deadly weapons can include loaded and unloaded firearms, weapons designed to harm (such as brass knuckles, dirk knives, or billy clubs), or objects that can be used to inflict great bodily harm (such as a tire iron, baseball bat, or screwdriver).

Additional penalties. A judge must order batterer's intervention treatment for anyone convicted of domestic battery or aggravated battery. Repeat convictions can result in enhanced penalties.

(N.M. Rev. Stat. §§ 30-1-12, 30-3-15, 30-3-16, 30-3-17 (2024).)

Assault and Aggravated Assault Against a Household Member

Domestic assault is an attempted or threatened battery against a household member. Penalties range from a petty misdemeanor to a third-degree felony.

Assault. Assault starts as a petty misdemeanor. A person commits this assault offense by attempting to unlawfully touch or strike a victim or by using threats or menacing conduct to make the victim afraid of immediate physical harm. Raising a fist to strike someone or swinging at another and missing are classic examples of assault.

Aggravated assault. Assault increases to a fourth-degree felony—aggravated assault—if the defendant committed the assault with a deadly weapon (see above definition) or with intent to commit a felony. For example, pointing a gun at a spouse would fall under this category. Trying to kick an ex in the head, intending to cause great bodily harm (felony battery), would be another example.

Aggravated assault; violent felony. A person who assaults a household member with the intent to commit murder, mayhem, robbery, kidnapping, false imprisonment, burglary, or sexual penetration in the first, second, or third degree commits this third-degree felony.

(N.M. Stat. §§ 30-3-12, 30-3-13, 30-2-14 (2024).)

Other Domestic Violence Crimes in New Mexico

In addition to assault and battery, New Mexico has domestic violence crimes specific to property damage, stalking, and protection order violations.

Criminal property damage. A defendant who threatens or harasses a household member by intentionally damaging their real or personal property commits a misdemeanor or felony offense, depending on the extent of the damage. Damage that amounts to more than $1,000 carries fourth-degree felony penalties. Otherwise, the offense is a misdemeanor. (N.M. Stat. § 30-3-18 (2024).)

Violating an order of protection. Orders of protection generally prohibit an abuser from harming, abusing, or contacting the protected household member. A violation carries misdemeanor penalties. The judge must make the offender spend at least 72 hours in jail for a repeat conviction. (N.M. Stat. §§ 40-13-5, 40-13-6 (2024).)

Aggravated stalking. Stalking a victim to place them in fear of bodily harm, sexual assault, or restraint is typically a misdemeanor. But if the defendant's conduct violates an order of protection, the crime becomes aggravated stalking—a fourth-degree felony. (N.M. Stat. § 30-3A-3.1 (2024).)

Penalties for Domestic Violence Crimes in New Mexico

Penalties for the above domestic violence crimes range from petty misdemeanors to third-degree felonies.

Petty misdemeanors are punished by up to six months in jail, a $500 fine, or both. Misdemeanors carry a possible sentence of six months to less than one year in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both.

A fourth-degree felony carries a basic sentence of 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine. For a third-degree felony, the basic sentence is 3 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

(N.M. Stat. §§ 31-18-15, 31-19-1 (2024).)

Firearm Restrictions in New Mexico Domestic Violence Cases

Both domestic violence convictions and orders of protection can limit a person's ability to possess firearms in New Mexico.

Domestic Violence Convictions Resulting in Firearm Restrictions

Both federal and New Mexico laws prohibit firearm possession by anyone convicted of a felony. New Mexico law also prohibits firearm possession when a person is convicted of battery against a household member or criminal damage to property of a household member.

A felon in possession of a firearm commits a third-degree felony. Other violations are misdemeanors.

Orders of Protections With Firearms Restrictions

When issuing an order of protection, the judge can prohibit the abusing party from possessing a firearm while the order is in effect. The judge must hold a hearing and determine that the abusing party is a credible threat. If subject to this restriction, the abusing party must surrender any firearms to law enforcement or a federal dealer for the duration of the order.

(N.M. Stat. §§ 30-7-16, 40-13-5, 40-13-13 (2024).)

Talk to a Lawyer

If you're facing criminal charges for domestic violence, or were served with a protection order, talk to a criminal defense attorney. A lawyer can help you understand the legal process and what's at stake and defend your rights.

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