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Sentencing and the Victims of Crime Act

Tutorial on the crimes of stalking and harassment for New Mexico judges

The New Mexico Victims of Crime Act (the Act), §§31-26-1 to 31-26-14, applies to stalking and aggravated stalking cases but not harassment cases. See §31-26-3(B)(17).

Pursuant to §31-26-4(G) of the Act, the victim in a stalking or aggravated stalking case has the right to make a statement to the court at sentencing as well as at any post-sentencing hearing, such as a hearing on motions to reconsider sentencing. In addition, the victim has the right to be informed by the court at sentencing proceedings that the defendant is eligible to earn meritorious deductions from his or her sentence, as well as the amount of meritorious deductions that might be earned. §31-26-4(L). Meritorious deductions apply only to defendants incarcerated in state-run or privately managed state correctional facilities, not county or city jails. See, §§33-2-34(A) and (K). Such deductions also can be earned by New Mexico prisoners confined in a federal or out-of-state correctional facility. §33-2-34(I). Therefore, the information about meritorious deductions applies only to felony level stalking and aggravated stalking since incarceration for misdemeanors would be at a county facility.

Typically, when a victim makes a statement to the court at sentencing it is to detail the impacts the felony stalking or aggravated stalking had upon him or her and perhaps family members as well. The victim sometimes reads a prepared statement to the court. With the court's permission, the victim can have another person do so on his or her behalf if the victim is scared, reluctant or chooses not to do so for whatever reason. That individual is often a family member or a victim's advocate from the prosecutor's office. If the victim suffered damages for which restitution is sought, the victim may detail those damages and affirmatively ask that restitution be ordered by the court. The victim may ask the court to impose a specific sentence as well.

Finally, under §31-26-4(I) of the Act, the victim has the right to information about the conviction, sentencing, imprisonment, and escape or release of the defendant. Depending on the inquiry, the judge or the prosecutor may be in the best position to respond.