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

Other Sentencing Options

As noted in the previous section, sentences for harassment and stalking can be deferred or suspended. For a first conviction, deferral of the sentence imposed is sometimes granted along with the imposition of fairly detailed and strict conditions of release.

Section 31-20-6 provides the courts with guidance regarding specific conditions of orders deferring or suspending a sentence. The overall guiding principle regarding conditions of release is that they be reasonably necessary to ensure the convicted defendant will obey all laws. As outlined in §31-20-6, if he or she is financially able to do so, the defendant is responsible to pay the actual costs of supervised probation. Fairly common elements of deferred or suspended sentences include community service and restitution to the victim.


Section 31-17-1 provides information and guidance on restitution to the victim of crime from the defendant responsible for the criminal actions that caused the damage. Section 31-17-1(A)(4) defines "restitution" as being "full or partial payment of actual damages to a victim" as follows:

31-17-1. Victim restitution.

A. It is the policy of this state that restitution be made by each violator of the Criminal Code [30-1-1 NMSA 1978] to the victims of his criminal activities to the extent that the defendant is reasonably able to do so. This section shall be interpreted and administered to effectuate this policy. As used in this section, unless the context otherwise requires:

(1) "victim" means any person who has suffered actual damages as a result of the defendant's criminal activities;
(2) "actual damages" means all damages which a victim could recover against the defendant in a civil action arising out of the same facts or event, except punitive damages and damages for pain, suffering, mental anguish and loss of consortium. Without limitation, "actual damages" includes damages for wrongful death;
(3) "criminal activities" includes any crime for which there is a plea of guilty or verdict of guilty, upon which a judgment may be rendered and any other crime committed after July 1, 1977 which is admitted or not contested by the defendant; and
(4) "restitution" means full or partial payment of actual damages to a victim.

B. If the trial court exercises either of the sentencing options under Section 31-20-6 NMSA 1978, the court shall require as a condition of probation or parole that the defendant, in cooperation with the probation or parole officer assigned to the defendant, promptly prepare a plan of restitution, including a specific amount of restitution to each victim and a schedule of restitution payments. If the defendant is currently unable to make any restitution but there is a reasonable possibility that the defendant may be able to do so at some time during his probation or parole period, the plan of restitution shall also state the conditions under which or the event after which the defendant will make restitution. If the defendant believes that he will not be able to make any restitution, he shall so state and shall specify the reasons. If the defendant believes that no person suffered actual damages as a result of the defendant's criminal activities, he shall so state.

C. The defendant's plan of restitution and the recommendations of his probation or parole officer shall be submitted promptly to the court. The court shall promptly enter an order approving, disapproving or modifying the plan, taking into account the factors enumerated in Subsection D of this section. Compliance with the plan of restitution as approved or modified by the court shall be a condition of the defendant's probation or parole. Restitution payments shall be made to the clerk of the court unless otherwise directed by the court. The court thereafter may modify the plan at any time upon the defendant's request or upon the court's own motion. If the plan as approved or modified does not require full payment of actual damages to all victims or if the court determines that the defendant is not able and will not be able to make any restitution at any time during his probation or parole period or that no person suffered actual damages as a result of the defendant's criminal activities, the court shall file a specific written statement of its reasons for and the facts supporting its action or determination.

D. An order requiring an offender to pay restitution, validly entered pursuant to this section, constitutes a judgment and lien against all property of a defendant for the amount the defendant is obligated to pay under the order and may be recorded in any office for the filing of liens against real or personal property, or for garnishment. A judgment of restitution may be enforced by the state, a victim entitled under the order to receive restitution, a deceased victim's estate or any other beneficiary of the judgment in the same manner as a civil judgment. An order of restitution is enforceable, if valid, pursuant to this section, the Victims of Crime Act [31-26-1 NMSA 1978] or Article 2, Section 24 of the constitution of New Mexico. Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the ability of a victim to pursue full civil legal remedies.

E. The probation or parole officer, when assisting the defendant in preparing the plan of restitution, and the court, before approving, disapproving or modifying the plan of restitution, shall consider the physical and mental health and condition of the defendant; the defendant's age, education, employment circumstances, potential for employment and vocational training, family circumstances and financial condition; the number of victims; the actual damages of each victim; what plan of restitution will most effectively aid the rehabilitation of the defendant; and such other factors as shall be appropriate. The probation or parole officer shall attempt to determine the name and address of each victim and the amount of pecuniary damages of each victim.

F. The clerk of the court shall mail to each known victim a copy of the court's order approving or modifying the plan of restitution, including the court's statement, if any, pursuant to the provisions of Subsection C of this section.

G. At any time during the probation or parole period, the defendant or the victim may request and the court shall grant a hearing on any matter related to the plan of restitution.

H. Failure of the defendant to comply with Subsection B of this section or to comply with the plan of restitution as approved or modified by the court may constitute a violation of the conditions of probation or parole. Without limitation, the court may modify the plan of restitution or extend the period of time for restitution, but not beyond the maximum probation or parole period specified in Section 31-21-10 NMSA 1978.

I. This section and proceedings pursuant to this section shall not limit or impair the rights of victims to recover damages from the defendant in a civil action.

J. The rightful owner of any stolen property is the individual from whom the property was stolen. When recovering his property, the rightful owner of the stolen property shall not be civilly liable to any subsequent holder, possessor or retainer of the property for the purchase or sale price of the property or for any other costs or expenses associated with the property. Any subsequent holder, possessor or retainer of returned stolen property shall return the property to the rightful owner. The subsequent holder, possessor or retainer shall have a cause of action against the person from whom he obtained the property for actual damages.