Understanding Homicide Charges in New Mexico

By Brock Benjamin
Founding Attorney

If you are facing a homicide charge in New Mexico, your life and freedom are at risk. If convicted of homicide, you face serious prison time, including a possible life sentence. Therefore, it is imperative that you develop a strong understanding of your charges and work with an experienced criminal defense attorney to mount a strong defense. In this article, we provide an overview of homicide charges in New Mexico. 

Homicide in New Mexico

A person commits homicide when he or she deliberately kills another person. New Mexico defines this crime as the unjustified and unlawful killing of a person. There are several ways to commit homicide in New Mexico, including: 

  • A premeditated and willful killing
  • A killing that occurs during the commission of a felony  
  • A killing committed by a person engaging in extremely reckless conduct 

Felony Murder

Felony murder is another type of homicide. A person commits felony murder when someone dies during the commission of a felony offense. In fact, a person can be charged with felony murder even if the killing is unintentional. 

Homicide Penalties

Possible penalties for homicide in New Mexico include: 

  • Up to nine years in prison for a second-degree felony
  • Up to 18 years in prison for a first-degree felony
  • Life in prison for a capital felony

Homicide Defenses

Possible defenses to homicide include: 

Mistaken Identity

If you’ve been wrongly accused of homicide in New Mexico, you can argue that the prosecution has filed charges against the wrong person. In addition, you can challenge the prosecutor’s accusations that you were at the scene when the crime was committed. 

Inability to Form Intent

If you were unable to form deliberate intent when the killing occurred, then your attorney can use this as an argument in your defense. Issues that may interfere with a person’s ability to form intent include mental disorder, mental disability, and intoxication.  


If you killed another person by mistake, then you can assert this in court to reduce or eliminate your charges. The accidental killing of another person is generally not considered homicide. However, your attorney will need to review the facts of your case to see if you qualify for this defense. 

Self-Defense or Defense of Another 

Self-defense or defense of another person are additional defenses to homicide charges. These defenses apply when someone kills another person to protect against what reasonably appears to be an immediate danger of great bodily harm or death. 

The Insanity Defense

You may be able to assert the insanity defense in your case if you lacked the cognitive ability to recognize or understand the severity of your actions at the time of the killing. This is also sometimes described as an inability to distinguish between right and wrong. 

Legally Insufficient Evidence

Lastly, sometimes the State may try a novel theory. This theory if they get past a preliminary examination or a Grand Jury is eventually presented to a petit jury at trial. That jury can decide if you are guilty or the evidence simply is not there. See https://taskandpurpose.com/news/fort-bliss-army-captain-murder-not-guilty/ or https://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/federal-appeals-court-overturns-mans-life-sentence-over-lack-of-gang-ties/article_a9a037be-e37e-11ed-bfef-632a66e80164.html

Contact an El Paso County Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing homicide charges in New Mexico, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side. At the Benjamin Law Firm, we have the experience and knowledge to mount a strong defense against your criminal charges. Please contact us as soon as possible to schedule an initial consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

About the Author
Brock Benjamin is board-certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.  His practice is primarily state and federal criminal law and appeals.Brock 

Posted in: Criminal Defense, Felonies