In New Mexico, the crime of homicide is divided into multiple degrees or levels. The crime of first-degree murder covers pre-planned homicides or the most violent or repugnant killings, while the crime of manslaughter covers accidental killings. In between is second-degree murder, which is first-degree murder with a mitigating circumstance which reduces the crime from first-degree murder to second-degree murder.
First-degree murder consists of willful, deliberate, and premeditated killings as well as killings occurring during the commission or attempted commission of a felony or through an act that is greatly dangerous to others' lives and evidences a depraved mind without regard for human life. A first-degree murder is reduced to second-degree murder when there is a mitigating circumstance which causes the killing, such as being involved in a sudden fight and having to defend oneself.
Although it is a lesser offense than first-degree murder, the crime of second-degree murder still has serious penalties. The following is a quick summary of New Mexico's second-degree murder laws.
New Mexico Second-Degree Murder Law
The following table outlines New Mexico's second-degree murder law.
||NEW MEXICO STAT. ANN. § 30-2-1
First-degree murder is a willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing of another person. The crime of first-degree murder is reduced to second-degree murder when a mitigating circumstance exists such that the person was:
- Sufficiently provoked
- Caught in a sudden fight
- Acting under heat of passion
||Second-degree murder is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and up to $12,500 in fines.
It is a defense to murder if the person was acting with lawful authority or could not establish sufficient intent for the killing. For example, a person who is mentally retarded or involuntarily intoxicated by drugs or alcohol may not have the requisite intent for murder.
In certain instances where the death was caused by a public officer or employee, it is a defense if the officer was acting under a court order or in order to overcome resistance to the law, recapture an escaped felon, arrest a fleeing felon, prevent escape by a felon, or prevent serious harm or death.
Private citizens may also have a defense if the death was necessary to defend against an unlawful action to one's life, family, or property, death to oneself or one's family, imminent physical injury or a felony to oneself or another person, or in order to apprehend a person committing a felony, suppress a riot, or to keep and preserve the peace.
New Mexico Second-Degree Murder Laws: Related Resources
Murder is a serious crime with severe penalties. If you or someone you know has been charged with murder, you may want to contact an experienced New Mexico criminal defense attorney for assistance. You may also want to read FindLaw's Second Degree Murder Overview, Second Degree Murder Defenses, and Second Degree Murder Penalties and Sentencing for more articles and information on this topic.