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When does assault become aggravated in New Mexico?

On Behalf of | Jul 1, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

The word “assault” is often thought of in a broad sense. Assault is commonly used to refer to a physical attack on another person. Nonetheless, the legal definition of assault in New Mexico is very specific. Perhaps surprisingly, physical contact is not required for assault.

Inflicting physical contact on another person is actually referred to as battery. Mere words may constitute assault, as long as those words are threatening and cause another person to fear impending violence.

Assault is charged as a misdemeanor in New Mexico, with potential penalties including a jail term of no more than one year and a fine of up to $1,000. For aggravated assault, however, the potential penalties are much more serious.

What is aggravated assault?

Aggravated assault comprises three key elements:

The use of weapons: When an individual uses or attempts to use a weapon to inflict bodily harm, this would be aggravated assault. For example, striking or attempting to strike someone with brass knuckles or a metal pole is aggravated assault.

Concealed identity: Assault is also deemed more serious when the perpetrator conceals their identity. An instance of striking another person while wearing a ski mask or other full-face covering would likely be categorized as aggravated assault.

Assault during the commission of a felony: Assault charges may also be upgraded if the assault precedes another felony offense. For example, if, during the commission of a robbery, the perpetrator strikes an employee before grabbing valuable jewelry, this would be aggravated assault.

Aggravated assault carries severe penalties, such as fines of up to $5,000 and prison sentences of up to three years. If you are facing charges of this nature, having accurate legal information is crucial to protecting your rights.