Misdemeanor Defense Lawyer in Las Cruces

Protecting Your Rights After an Arrest for a Misdemeanor

An arrest for a misdemeanor offense in Las Cruces, New Mexico, can be overwhelming. It may impact several aspects of your life, including your career and your family. In some cases, you may be facing jail time upon conviction. It is important to understand your rights to ensure that you obtain the most favorable disposition possible in your case.

To protect your rights and future, it is crucial to work with a skilled misdemeanor defense attorney in the Las Cruces area. Call (575) 386-5100 today.

What Is a Misdemeanor Offense in New Mexico?

In general, crimes fall into one of two categories: misdemeanors or felonies. Felonies are considered the more serious offenses and can result in a state prison sentence if convicted. Misdemeanors, on the other hand, are punishable by less than a year in county jail. While they often do not carry the same weight as felonies, they are still serious crimes that can deeply affect your life upon conviction. In New Mexico, misdemeanors are further distinguished between misdemeanors and petty misdemeanors.

What Are the Penalties for a Misdemeanor in Las Cruces?

Under New Mexico state law (NM Stat § 30-1-6), crimes are classified into three distinct groups: felonies, misdemeanors, and petty misdemeanors. The penalties for each offense are codified into the New Mexico Statutes.

What are the penalties for a misdemeanor:

  • Misdemeanors: A misdemeanor is punishable by up to six months but less than one year in jail and a fine not to exceed $1,000. 
  • Petty misdemeanors: A petty misdemeanor is punishable by six months or less in jail and a fine not to exceed $500. 


Many misdemeanors and petty misdemeanors are non-violent offenses, but they still carry substantial consequences if convicted. In addition to a hefty fine and jail time, you could be required to complete community service, alcohol or drug treatment, anger management, and a number of other court-ordered requirements. That is why it is essential to speak with a Las Cruces criminal defense attorney right away.

What Is Considered a Petty Misdemeanor?

A petty misdemeanor is an offense that is punishable by six months or less in jail. Petty misdemeanors are defined by law in New Mexico. The majority of petty misdemeanors are non-violent with financial impacts to victims of $250 or less.

Petty misdemeanors in New Mexico include:

  • Simple assault
  • Unlawful assembly
  • Littering
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Larceny (up to $250)
  • Reckless driving (first offense)
  • Embezzlement (up to $250)
  • Trespassing


In some cases, petty misdemeanors and misdemeanors have a mandatory minimum sentence, while in others, sentencing is left to the discretion of the court. Understanding and exercising your rights after an arrest can prove critical to your case. It is important to remain silent and to request a misdemeanor defense attorney as soon as possible.

What Are Mandatory Minimums?

Some crimes in Las Cruces, NM, carry mandatory minimums. A crime with a mandatory minimum sentence requires the court to impose the statutory minimums when sentencing. While mandatory minimums frequently apply to felony cases, there are some misdemeanors and petty misdemeanors that carry the requirement.

For example, a person convicted of Unauthorized graffiti on personal or real property must complete a mandatory 100 hours of community service within a continuous six-month period. Understanding the mandatory minimum sentence that may apply to your case is often critical.

What Are Enhanced Penalties?

Under some circumstances, a crime that would normally be charged as a misdemeanor may be charged as a felony because of enhanced penalties. For instance, if you are a habitual offender, you may face an increased sentence or additional consequences under the law.

You may also receive enhanced penalties as a result of the circumstances of the case itself. Individuals who are arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol may face increased sentencing due to a higher blood alcohol level (usually exceeding .16% BAC) or if they refuse to take a chemical test.

Will I Go to Jail?

In some instances, you may face jail time if convicted of a misdemeanor or petty misdemeanor in Las Cruces, NM. If you are convicted of a petty misdemeanor, you may be sentenced to up to six months in jail. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor you may face between six months and less than one year in jail.

However, not all misdemeanor offenses have to result in jail time. In many cases, a favorable disposition can be negotiated, including one without jail time. There may be sentencing alternatives available such as probation, community service, and other options. Working with an attorney can help ensure that all jail alternatives are considered.

Do I Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer?

It is strongly recommended that if you are arrested for a misdemeanor or petty misdemeanor offense in Las Cruces, you speak to a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer can help you understand your rights and determine the best course of action moving forward with your case.

Depending on the case, an attorney may be able to secure a reduction or dismissal of the charges. Early intervention often proves essential, which is why it is important to contact an attorney immediately after an arrest. To take immediate steps to protect your rights, contact the Aranda Law Firm to speak with one of our experienced misdemeanor defense lawyers in Las Cruces. Contact us online or call (575) 386-5100 to schedule a consultation.

A man in the grocery store stealing food and put it in the pocket.