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New Mexico Voluntary Manslaughter Law

In New Mexico, manslaughter is the unlawful killing of a human being without malice. In contrast, first-degree murder is the killing of another human being through a willful, deliberate, and premeditated act. The crime of manslaughter is further divided between voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter.

Voluntary manslaughter is essentially a murder that involves a mitigating factor, such as a murder that occurs upon a sudden fight where the person was acting in self-defense against imminent personal injury or death. Another mitigating factor is when a murder occurs in the heat of passion such as when an individual comes home to find their spouse cheating on them and at that moment, being enraged, decides to shoot and kill the cheating spouse. The defense would not apply if the perpetrator had sufficient time to cool off, which would mean that this person was no longer acting under heat of passion.

Although manslaughter is a lesser crime than murder, it still has steep penalties including prison time and fines. The following is a quick summary of New Mexico's voluntary manslaughter law.

New Mexico Voluntary Manslaughter Law

The following table outlines New Mexico's voluntary manslaughter law.

Code Sections NEW MEXICO STAT. ANN. § 30-2-3
What’s Prohibited?

Unlawfully killing another person, without malice, while acting upon a sudden fight or in the heat of passion.

Penalties Voluntary manslaughter is a third-degree felony punishable by up to 6 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.

The death was an accident and the person was acting lawfully, with usual and ordinary caution, and without any unlawful intent.

The death was caused by a public officer or employee who 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 in order to prevent serious harm or death.

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 Voluntary Manslaughter Laws: Related Resources

The crime of manslaughter has serious consequences. If you or someone you know has been charged with manslaughter, you may want to contact an experienced New Mexico criminal defense attorney for assistance. You may also want to read Findlaw's Voluntary Manslaughter Overview, Voluntary Manslaughter Defenses, and Voluntary Manslaughter Penalties and Sentencing for more articles and information on this topic.

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