Being the victim of a crime is traumatic. You may feel isolated and confused, and not know where to turn for practical advise or support. You should know there are many community resources available to assist you and explain your rights as a victim under New Mexico law. Below you will find some basic information about your rights as a crime victim.
Who is a Victim for Purposes of Exercising Rights?
A “victim” is a person against whom the criminal offense or delinquent act has been committed, or if the person is killed or incapacitated, the person’s spouse, parent, child or other lawful representative, except if the person is in custody for an offense or is the accused.
Criminal and juvenile justice statutes allow a victim who is physically or emotionally unable to exercise any right but is able to designate a lawful representative who is not a bona fide witness, the designated person may exercise the same rights that the victim is entitled to exercise. The victim may revoke this designation at any time and exercise the victim’s rights.
If a victim is incompetent, deceased or otherwise incapable of designating another person to act in the victim’s place, the court may appoint a lawful representative who is not a witness. If at any time the victim is no longer incompetent, incapacitated or otherwise incapable of acting, the victim may personally exercise the victim’s rights.
Although legal entities and neighborhood associations can be considered victims, their rights under New Mexico law are limited.
As a victim of crime in New Mexico, you have a Constitutional right to be treated with fairness, respect and dignity and to be free from intimidation, harassment or abuse throughout the criminal or juvenile justice process. All state, county, and municipal justice agencies and courts in New Mexico are required to perform certain duties to ensure that you receive your rights.
Organizations such as victim assistance programs, sexual assault centers (Rape Crisis Centers), child abuse treatment programs, support groups and domestic violence shelters are established throughout the state to help crime victims regain control over their lives. Some of the services are listed below. They provide emergency and long-term support to victims and their families. Services which may be available include:
- Emergency safe homes or shelters
- 24-hour crisis telephone lines
- Follow-up crisis and long-term counseling
- Professional victim advocates to assist you in asserting your rights, finding resources to meet your needs, accompanying you to court hearings or medical examinations, and explaining court procedures.
- Child care
See our list of resources by Judicial District for organizations in your area that can provide victim assistance services.
If you are a victim of a violent crime or the next of kin of a victim who has died as the result of a criminal act, you may apply (in English or Spanish) to the New Mexico Crime Reparations Commission to recover certain expenses. Some expenses you may be able to recover include:
- Medical and dental expenses
- Mental health counseling
- Lost wages
- Funeral costs
The Crime Victim Compensation Board does not compensate for loss of property or property damage. There are conditions which must be met to be eligible for compensation. There are conditions which must be met to be eligible for compensation, and eligibility does not guarantee an award.
Download the compensation form (requires Adobe Reader):
If you would like more information on crime victim compensation, contact the New Mexico Crime Victims Reparations Commission at (505) 841-9432 or (800) 306-6262 (toll free victims assistance).
If you are the victim of domestic violence, you may see an Order of Protection. Orders of Protection prohibit spouses, persons living together, and close relatives from harming each other. Injunctions Prohibiting Harassment can be obtained when the relationship is not covered under the domestic violence law and when there is a series of harassing acts.
Orders and injunctions can be filed by any adult without a lawyer in a Justice of the Peace Court or City Court. If you are in the process of a legal separation or dissolution of marriage, or if the Order or Injunction is filed on behalf of, or against a juvenile, you may have to apply to the Clerk of the Superior Court. You will be asked to fill out a petition stating why you want the Court to grant the Order or Injunction.
When the court is not open, an Emergency Order, good until 5 PM the next business day, may be obtained through a law enforcement officer.
An Order or Injunction can serve to keep the abuser from having any contact with you, committing further offenses, going to your residence (even if the abuser has been living at this address), going to your workplace, or provide any relief necessary for your protection. An Order of Protection can also prohibit the abuser from possessing or purchasing a firearm.
If there is a firearm present in a domestic violence matter, and a law enforcement officer determines that you or others could be exposed to serious injury or death, the firearm may be taken and held by the law enforcement agency. To ensure that you, as the victim, are notified of the release of a firearm that has been seized, you must provide the law enforcement agency with any change of address or phone number.
The person seeking an Order or Injunction may request that her/his address be kept confidential, and may request that filing and service fees be waived. The court may or may not waive the fees; however, an agency that is serving the Order of Protection MAY NOT require prepayment of service fees.
Disclaimer: None of the information provided is intended as legal advice.