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Better Call Saul – Prosecution for Rape in New Mexico

Popular TV notwithstanding, hiring a clever lawyer is not enough to ensure success in prosecution for sex crimes in New Mexico. Although all forms of sexual assault are vigorously prosecuted in New Mexico, you can’t always count on sympathy from the court just because you are a woman.

Sexual assault is part of the spectrum of sex-related crimes, including forced or unwanted sexual touching of private parts, rape, sex abuse, molestation, and others. An experienced attorney who specializes in sexual assault cases is important. Just one unproven accusation can destroy your case and along with it, your reputation.

What constitutes rape in New Mexico?

Criminal sexual penetration, as rape is called in New Mexico law, is assault involving forced or coerced penetration of the vagina, anus, or mouth, by a penis or other object without the consent of the victim. The modern definition also includes coercion and abuse of authority, sex with person incapable of consent, with a minor under the age of 16, or with a physically or mentally incapacitated, unconscious, or drugged person.

What kind of punishment awaits the convicted rapist?

If convicted, a rapist faces prison time which may be followed by civil commitment even after the sentence is complete. For the rest of his life, the rapist must register as a sex offender, with his picture, name, address, and charges openly available on the Internet.

How do lawyers defend rapists?

All Americans, even rapists, are innocent until proven guilty. His lawyer does not have to prove he didn’t do what you claim he did. That is assumed. He will attempt to prove consent, i.e. that you agreed to the act. He may attack your motives by proving you are seeking revenge for some other matter. He may attempt to demonstrate that there is insufficient evidence to convict his client beyond a reasonable doubt.

The rapist’s lawyer will scrutinize the police procedures surrounding the arrest of his client for any violation of constitutional rights. He will with equal vigor examine the evidence you present. And if your case is pretty solid, he may attempt to negotiate a plea bargain.

If the case goes to trial, his lawyer will try to get the most favorable jury possible.

In New Mexico, is spousal rape a recognized crime?

Yes. Since 1991 the criminal statutes have recognized rape of the spouse as rape and the penalties are the same as rape under non-spousal circumstances.

Won’t my reputation suffer even if I prove my innocence?

New Mexico has what is called the “rape shield rule” which bars the accused from submitting allegations of your reputation or past sexual conduct unless it is directly relevant.

What if I lose the case?

Ever hear of O. J. Simpson? The standards for conviction are higher in criminal than civil court. You can still sue in civil court if the criminal court acquits the rapist. The burden of proof in a civil case is lower than for criminal court.