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New Mexico Capital Punishment Laws

Capital punishment, or “the death penalty” as it is commonly known, is no longer a legal sentence in the state of New Mexico. The Land of Enchantment repealed its death sentence statute in 2009, making it one of 18 states (along with the District of Columbia) that do not enforce capital punishment. This is a basic overview of capital punishment laws in New Mexico.

Capital Punishment Statutes in New Mexico

States are permitted to enact their own capital punishment laws, and 32 states have death penalty laws in place. Instead of the death penalty, New Mexico charges the most serious crimes with life imprisonment, with the possibility of parole depending on the nature and severity of the crime.

Even before 2009, New Mexico did not have a history of executions: since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976, the state had only executed one person, and only two people remain on death row today. (The ban on capital punishment was not retrospective, so it is possible these two men could be executed, though it is unlikely.) New Mexico’s capital punishment laws are highlighted below.

Code Section

New Mexico Statutes 31-14-1, et seq.: Execution of Death Sentence [Repealed]

Is Capital Punishment Allowed?


Effect of Defendant's Incapacity


Minimum Age


Available for Crimes Other than Homicide?


Definition of Capital Homicide


Method of Execution


Capital Punishment in America

As the numbers above demonstrate, the death penalty remains an emotionally and politically charged issue. Current polling shows about 50/50 split between those who prefer the death penalty and those would prefer life imprisonment, although the use of execution and public support of the death penalty have been steadily declining in recent years.

Only 29 people were put to death in 2014, down from 98 in 1999 and 52 in 2009, with the majority of executions occurring in Florida, Missouri, and Texas. New Mexico, along with Connecticut, Oregon, and Pennsylvania, has only executed death row prisoners who waived their appeals (known as “volunteers”) since capital punishment was reinstituted in 1976, and Iowa, Kansas, and New Hampshire have performed no executions in that time.

More Resources for New Mexico Capital Punishment Laws

Not all states have banned capital punishment, and death penalty law can be difficult to understand. For additional articles and resources on this topic, you can visit FindLaw’s section on Capital Punishment and the Death Penalty. If you would like legal assistance with a death penalty matter, you can consult with a New Mexico criminal law attorney.

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