What to Do When Being Arrested and Detained by Police: Knowing Your Rights 

Being stopped by police can be stressful and nerve-racking, especially if you have never found yourself in such a position before. It can be hard to know what’s right from wrong when you’re having a hard time thinking straight. Of course, you should always remain as calm and collected as possible in order to keep things straight, but if things escalate it is important to know what you can do and where your rights stand as a civilian. We’re here to help by outlining the most important things to keep in mind when being arrested by police. 

Make It Known that You Wish to Remain Silent

Although you may already be familiar with this right, it is one of the most powerful rights you have. The fact that whatever you say can be held against you in court can either make or break your case. You can have some control of the case when you decide to exercise your right of staying silent and making it known to the police. 

Ask for a Lawyer Immediately 

One thing you should make note of when being arrested is that you wish to have a lawyer appointed to you immediately. With that being said, you can hold off on speaking until you have a lawyer in your presence. A lawyer can help you understand what you should and should not do while you are being detained once they are appointed to you. 

Make a Local Phone Call

When you are being detained, you have the right to make a phone call and police officers are not allowed to listen to what you are saying while on said call. You can either use this call to contact a lawyer (if there is one in specific you want to work with) or a family member. Do not hesitate or be afraid to ask for a phone call. 

Stay Calm and Comply as Much as Possible

When being arrested, it is best to comply as much as you can in order to prevent problems from worsening. Do not lie if you wish to speak and do not attempt to run away or resist. This will only worsen the situation and they could hold more charges against you. Staying calm, as challenging as it can be, is the best thing you can do for yourself. 

If you believe your rights were violated…

The abuse of power is something that can definitely happen. In these instances, your rights were not completely respected during the arrest and detainment. Things can easily get out of hand when force is used, so if this happened to you, we highly recommend taking up the following immediately after the incident:

Make note of everything that happened

Try to recall how everything happened from the point that things got out of hand to the point where you reached the police station. It is also good to try to remember how many officers there were, what exactly they were saying, the amount of force used, patrol car numbers (if possible), etc. All of these little details are really helpful when found in these situations. It would also be good to get contact information from witnesses if you can reach out. 

Take pictures if injured 

If you have any injuries, no matter how big or small, take pictures as soon as you can. The more recent the injury is, the better piece of evidence it makes. It is also good to collect medical documents and records when seeking medical attention because they also make good pieces of evidence. You can also mention how these injuries are affecting your work and personal life and how exactly injuries happened. The case is more likely to turn in your favor when you can provide adequate proof and evidence. 

File a written complaint 

It is crucial that you do the most for yourself if you feel that your rights have been violated. Take it up to the supes, file the complaint and be very clear with why you are unhappy with your arrest. Make it known that you have rights and that you are entitled to them, no matter what your arrest was for. 

Contact The Law Office of W. Shane Jennings, Today

W. Shane Jennings specializes in criminal law, which is why our law office is your best choice. If you have recently been arrested or charged with a crime, do not wait. Contact us today so we can get started on your case right away. 

 

Self-Defense or Assault? What New Mexico Law Says 

If you have ever been in or witnessed a fight or altercation, you may have wondered how the law would view the situation. You’re not alone; plenty of people get into these situations daily not knowing who would be seen as the aggressor. 

Too often, people are entangled in the legal system without knowing a lick of law. Not surprisingly, they tend to get into more trouble than probably had to occur. Hopefully, this blog can help shed some light on New Mexico law regarding self-defense and assault & battery. 

A Primer On Self-Defense 

In New Mexico, as in many other states, citizens are not required to retreat if they feel they are under an immediate threat to their well-being. Instead, citizens have the right to defend themselves under certain circumstances. The State of New Mexico separates its self-defense law into two basic parts: non-deadly force and deadly force. 

According to New Mexico law, you need to meet the following criteria to legally use non-deadly force in self-defense: 

  • There was an appearance of immediate danger of bodily harm to you or another as a result of an unlawful act;
  • You were, in fact, put in fear of immediate bodily harm to yourself or another, and used non-deadly force because of that fear;
  • You used an amount of force that you believed was reasonable and necessary to prevent the bodily harm; and
  • The apparent danger would have caused a reasonable person in the same circumstances to act as you did.

For deadly force, the criteria will change slightly: 

  • There was an appearance of immediate danger of death or great bodily harm to you or another as a result of the threat from the perpetrator;
  • You were, in fact, put in fear by the apparent danger of immediate death or great bodily harm to yourself or another, and killed the perpetrator because of that fear; and
  • A reasonable person in the same circumstances would have acted as you did. 

Basically, you need to have believed yourself to be in danger and acted with an appropriate amount of force. The law determining that a “reasonable person” must have acted the same way leaves it open to an incredible amount of interpretation. Nonetheless, self-defense in New Mexico works very similarly to other states. 

Assault & Battery in New Mexico

Assault and battery in New Mexico, much like with self-defense, is similar to most other states. Assault is defined as an attempt to commit a physical attack or as intentional threats, words, or actions that cause a person to feel afraid of impending violence. Many assault charges never involve any physical violence, only threats. 

Battery in New Mexico is defined as the unlawful, intentional touching or application of force to the person of another when done in a rude, insolent, or angry manner. Battery can take many forms, but this is the basic definition common to most varieties of battery. 

The backbone of both assault & battery is intent and action. Thus, understanding the sequence of events and mind-state of all involved is necessary for the court to rule in someone’s favor. 

Potential Gray Areas 

Looking at what the law says, it seems like it should be cut and dry. However, it can be a contentious issue depending on the case. How? Let’s dive deeper into the law. 

For all laws, they tend to fall apart when there are subjective or fuzzy elements in the language. In the self-defense law, we see weak points in the idea of a “reasonable person” and in the appearance and actual nature of danger. If the parties involved don’t agree on the situation, it can make for a much more difficult case. 

The concept of a “reasonable person” is a legal term often used in matters of tort and personal law. It is a legal fiction used to determine if someone acted outside what would be normal behavior from a law-abiding citizen. However, it is unavoidably subjective, leading to inconsistent legal outcomes. 

This fuzziness and subjectivity are the arena of the judge, jury, and legal counsel. Together, a picture and frame for your case will be built and an objective ruling is determined from all legally-relevant factors. This is why competent legal counsel is so important for each case.

Tips For Avoiding Legal Trouble 

Knowing the law is important, but the best way to not get into legal trouble is to never be in a situation that the law may be required for. If you foresee a situation where violence may be threatened or committed, it’s best to simply walk away. 

If that much can’t be done, then you’ll want to document everything that happened leading up to and during your encounter. Gathering eyewitnesses that can provide more evidence to corroborate your accounts will also be incredibly useful. Finally, obtaining legal counsel that is well-versed in the law is crucial to your case. Poor legal counsel could mean a worse overall outcome. 

Trust The Law Office of W. Shane Jennings! 

In most cases, the line between self-defense and assault and battery is clear. However, regardless of how your particular case is shaped, you’ll want competent legal counsel by your side. For years, our legal team has defended the rights of citizens in New Mexico. Contact us today or visit our website to schedule your consultation! 

 

A lawyer meeting with a client to discuss the details of criminal defense

What to Expect After a Criminal Charge: The Immediacy of Defense

The presumption of innocence is an axiom within United States law. Although it’s not cited explicitly within our Constitution, the presumption of innocence is foundational to the Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments and for our nation’s legal system at large. This means those who are charged with crimes, from class C misdemeanors to federal felonies, are all presumed innocent.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a criminal offense, your world may feel as if it’s been flipped upside down. But it’s crucial to understand that you’re not alone. Attorney W. Shane Jennings provides criminal defense services to individuals in the Southern New Mexico region. Call today to schedule a consultation.

Don’t Go It Alone, Team Up With a Criminal Defense Lawyer

As a criminal defense office, we have dealt with cases ranging from DWI charges to aggravated assault and everything in between. We understand that the clock starts ticking as soon as you receive your criminal charge. As such, we’ve outlined what you might expect from the criminal defense journey. Remember, everyone is innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around. The sooner you reach out to us, the sooner we can get to work on your defense. Our goal is to secure dismissals, acquittals, lesser charges, or deferred sentences. 

Part 1: You’re Arrested and Charged with a Criminal Offense

This is where it all begins. Typically, a police officer will arrest an individual after he/she is witnessed committing a crime. Police officers may also arrest individuals if they have probable cause that the individual committed a crime or if the officer is under authority of a valid arrest warrant. Upon completing the booking process, the arrested individual will be placed in custody. 

Your first appearance in court will be during the arraignment. If, upon your arrest, you receive a notice of arraignment, then you should contact the Law Office of W. Shane Jennings immediately. This way, we will be able to discuss the state’s laws as well as what you should expect from the entire process. We’ll delve a bit deeper into this process in the next step.

Bail may also be set, which the arrested individual must pay in order to be released while awaiting trial. This is not something you can simply pay to get out of; you still need to appear in court on the designated date. Bail release is built around the arrested individual’s promise to appear at every court proceeding. Bail may be granted as soon as the booking is complete or it may be granted later on during a bail hearing.  

Part 2: You Contact Our Law Office

Building a legal defense is crucial, no matter the severity of your criminal charges. This process should be initiated as quickly as possible. If your loved one has been arrested and charged with a criminal offense, you can get the ball rolling by contacting our law office as soon as possible. If you’re out on bail and you’re reading this article, then give us a call as well. Upon contacting our law office, you’ll go through an initial consultation during which we’ll go over the details pertaining to your case. If you believe our services will be beneficial to you, we will begin work on building your defense. No matter the severity of your charges, we will work diligently to find a possible solution. 

More often than not, criminal defense lawyers strive to have the entire case dismissed. If this is achieved, you won’t face a conviction. Although the case is dismissed, it will still remain on your criminal record. In order to counteract this, you’ll have to have your case expunged or sealed. If your case is not dismissed, then your criminal defense lawyer will attempt to obtain a plea, lesser charges, or a deferred sentence. This is why working with a criminal defense lawyer is crucial, especially when it comes to serious criminal charges. Since we know the intricacies of criminal law, we’re able to find solutions to the issues at hand. Simply put, we’ll take care of the hard work.

Part 3: The Trial and Sentencing

Your trial will be the event in which your presumed innocence is put into question. As a defendant, the judge and jury of your peers will find you either guilty or not guilty of the criminal charge or charges you’re facing. Here is where all our hard work will come into play. As your criminal defense attorney, W. Shane Jennings will build a defense that will cast doubt within the judge and/or jury regarding the evidence and charges presented against you, the defendant. The final decision, however, is in the hands of the judge or jury. 

As far as sentencing goes, the court will determine an appropriate punishment for the defendant. There are many details that determine a sentence. Everything from the nature and severity of the crime to the defendant’s degree of remorse will be taken into consideration. 

Contact the Law Office of W. Shane Jennings, Today

If you or a loved one are facing a criminal charge, don’t let another second pass by. Contact the Law Office of W. Shane Jennings today so we can get started on building your defense. We understand the immediacy of the situation at hand and we’re here to guide the way. If you have any questions about what to expect from the legal process, then reach out to us. We’re ready to help.  

a young man driving while checking his phone and looking away from the road ahead

Distracted Driving: A Issue Plaguing Our Roads

Every year, Apple announces the brand new iPhone, and, every year, hundreds of thousands of people buy their first, third, or tenth smartphone. Due to advancements in modern technology, smartphones have quickly become a necessary accessory for people of all ages. In fact, according to Pew Research, it is estimated that approximately 5 billion people own a mobile phone, with half of those being smartphones. That’s quite a statistic! 

As useful and convenient as smartphones are, however, they can still pose a great risk to many, especially when it comes to distracted driving. If you’re facing issues relating to a distracted driving accident, whether you were injured or accused of distracted driving, then the Law Firm of W. Shane Jennings can help. 

The Severity of Distracted Driving

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “approximately 9 people are killed and more than 1,000 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver” every single day in the United States. A distracted driver is someone who performs an activity that detracts the driver’s ability to focus on the road ahead. But what exactly is “distracted driving”? Would looking away from the road ahead to change the radio station be considered distracted driving? 

The Center for Disease Control has pondered this exact thought. According to the CDC, the three main types of “distraction” are visual, manual, and cognitive. Visual distraction is when one stops looking at the road ahead, manual distraction is when one removes his or her hands from the steering wheel, and cognitive distraction is when one lets his or her mind wander while driving. 

Texting While Driving: A Trifecta of Distraction

If you think about it, there are many instances where each kind of distraction can result in an accident. Perhaps the driver dropped a water bottle so he quickly looked down at his feet to see where it went, or maybe the driver had to grab a tissue from the back seat so he removed his hands from the wheel. Before the driver knows it, he’s rear-ended the car in front of him. 

But there’s one example that combines all three methods of distraction and that, of course, is texting while driving. When you text, you need to look at your phone to read the message you’re responding to [visual distraction]. You also need to use your hand (or hands) to type out the message [manual distraction]. And, finally, you need to think about what to respond with before actually typing out the text message itself [cognitive distraction]. It’s no surprise that the most common type of distracted driving is texting while driving.

How the State of New Mexico Deals with Distracted Driving

In 2014, the state of New Mexico passed a new traffic safety law that specifically targets texting while driving. Statute section 66-7-374 which states, “a person shall not read or view a text message or manually type on a handheld mobile communication device for any purpose while driving a motor vehicle, except to summon medical or other emergency help.” If you notice, the law says “for any purpose,” meaning that drivers aren’t allowed to use their phones, be it to look something up online, change map directions, or respond to a text, while driving. The only legal option is to use handsfree methods, be it through Bluetooth or the vehicle’s own speech command settings. 

9 Percent of Fatal Accidents in 2016 Occured Due to Distracted Driving

According to NHTSA, in 2016, nine percent of fatal accidents were reported as distracted-affected crashes. As much as we wish for this number to go down since then, it’s more than likely that the percentage has increased and will continue to increase with each passing year. 

Avoiding Distracted Driving

As we become more and more accustomed to texting and using our phones for nearly everything, the act of texting while driving undoubtedly becomes more commonplace. Thankfully, car manufacturers are now including standard features that make it easier for drivers to use hands-free options while driving. 

The best way to avoid distracted driving is by removing the option for it. Once in your car, before driving, connect your phone to the car’s Bluetooth (if available) then keep your phone in your pants pocket or in your purse. Many newer cars come with Carplay (for iOS users) and Android Auto (for Android users) which provides drivers with an interface in their vehicle’s infotainment units. By connecting your phone to your car’s interface, you won’t have to worry about checking texts or typing responses as the units can read texts out loud and give you the option to respond via voice text. 

Now, not all cars offer these features so it’s always best to play it safe. If you’re driving, don’t think about texting. If you need to use your phone, then pull over to a safe location and park before you use your device. It might sound like too much but it’s always best to play it safe, especially in these situations.

Legal Guidance for Distracted Driving Car Accidents in New Mexico

Let’s say you were part of a car accident and the other driver blames you for what took place. Perhaps the driver says you were on your phone or you were texting but you know, for a fact, that that wasn’t the case. Maybe, to the other driver, it seemed like you were on your phone when in fact you were looking down at the cup holder for a quarter to pay the toll that was coming up. What can you do in this situation? 

Section B of New Mexico Traffic Law 66-7-374 makes it very clear that the cell phone cannot be seized by or forfeited to the police in the event of a distracted driving accident or event. Simply put, the device is “not subject to search by a law enforcement officer during a traffic stop.” So, does this extend to car accidents where one driver is blaming the other for distracted driving? This is where things can get a bit complicated. 

If you’re facing this situation, it’s in your best interest to speak to an experienced car accident attorney who is well versed in New Mexico traffic law. The Law Firm of W. Shane Jennings provides meticulous, detailed legal aid to drivers in the state of New Mexico. Contact us today for more information.

Sources:

https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812517

https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/distracted_driving/index.html

https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2019/02/05/smartphone-ownership-is-growing-rapidly-around-the-world-but-not-always-equally/

https://law.justia.com/codes/new-mexico/2014/chapter-66/article-7/part-4/section-66-7-374

 

Close-up Of Person Hand Filling Criminal Background Check Application Form

Expungement: When & How To Clean Your Record

Life for most of us is just a series of mistakes. From messing up on tests to getting in trouble with the law, life has no shortage of situations for us to mess up in. Unfortunately, trouble with the law can keep people from certain opportunities, like getting a new job or moving into a new apartment. Luckily, the law allows for those mistakes to be erased under the right circumstances through a process known as expungement.

In our latest Law Office of W. Shane Jennings blog, we discuss the basics of expungement and chart a possible path for you to clean up your record with our firm!

What Is Expungement?

Expungement is the process of “sealing” the legal record of an arrest, conviction, indictment, acquittal, discharge, or dismissal by order of the court. In effect, this process will effectively erase the arrest or conviction in most cases from the general public. That means that you likely won’t have to mention that conviction or arrest when applying for something that asks for it.

A common misconception about expungement is that it will completely erase the blight off your record as if it never happened. This is not quite true. While you won’t have to say it happened, certain government agencies will still be able to see the record. In addition, the expunged conviction may still be considered as proof of prior conviction if a crime is committed afterward.

An expungement is a great tool for people to move on from their mistakes and capitalize on opportunities. However, as you can probably guess, expungement doesn’t work for all situations and crimes.

Expungement In New Mexico

Expungement in New Mexico has undergone a huge change in 2020. Effective January 1st, 2020, the Criminal Record Expungement Act drastically broadened the expungement powers of the New Mexico court system. Prior to this act, New Mexico had a very narrow expungement allowance, usually for juvenile issues or for victims of human trafficking that commit a crime (which are still part of New Mexico law).

The change in New Mexico’s expungement law is most driven by the idea giving people a chance to move on from arrests and convictions will give them the best chance at rehabilitation, as well as keep the public safe. With this act, New Mexico has one of the broadest expungement powers in the country.

Under this new act, most non-conviction and conviction records are eligible to be expunged given a set period without any additional charges or convictions. The period for non-convictions is one year, while convictions need periods of two to ten years before being eligible for expungement.

Eligibility does not equate to a guaranteed expungement. The judge presiding over your case will take into account several factors before making a final decision. Some of those factors include:

  • Your age, employment history, and criminal history
  • Any reasons to deny raised by the district attorney
  • Specific benefits/consequences of denying expungement
  • Gravity and circumstances of the original conviction

In these cases, having an expert lawyer with plenty of experience can give you the leg up needed to secure the expungement.

Expungement Of Conviction Records

Conviction records, unlike non-conviction records, have more detailed and stringent requirements. Under the new act, the date after the completion of a person’s sentence will start the mandatory waiting period which varies based on the crime. For violations of municipal ordinances, the waiting period is two years. Felonies will need a waiting period of 4 to 10 years, depending on the crime.

The law doesn’t allow the most serious municipal violations and felonies to be expunged, including but not limited to:

  • Crimes involving a child
  • Great bodily harm/death
  • Embezzlement
  • DUI/DWI

Even if your conviction is eligible, though, that does not guarantee that the court will agree to expunge.

If you aren’t sure if your conviction qualifies, be sure to contact our office if you aren’t sure about your specific case.

Expungement Of Non-Conviction Records

Non-conviction records are a little more forgiving, mainly by having a much shorter waiting period. The waiting period for non-conviction records is just one-year, in which there may be no new charges.

Cases in which this section of the act apply are:

  • Nolle prosequis
  • Pre-prosecution referral to diversion
  • Acquittal
  • Conditional discharge (minus deferred imposition of sentence)
  • Other discharge

Just like with conviction records, though, there are some special circumstances in written into the law. If you aren’t sure about your specific case, feel free to contact our office and get more information.

Choose The Law Office Of W. Shane Jennings!

Interested in scrubbing your record in court? Due to New Mexico’s new stance on expungement, many more citizens will be eligible for expungement.

If you would like to get started or want more information on the new act, simply give us a call or visit our office today!

the statue of justice

Why It’s Time to Team Up with A Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you’ve been charged with a felony or misdemeanor, your world is more than likely spinning out of control. In times like these, you need a criminal defense lawyer to tether you to reality. The Law Office of W. Shane Jennings proudly serves the Southern New Mexico region, continuously providing high-quality criminal defense assistance. But what exactly does a criminal defense lawyer do and why is it necessary to team up with a law firm? We’ve got the answers, right here!

Your Criminal Defense Lawyer Understands Exactly What You’re Going Through

More often than not, people who get charged with a crime feel as if they’re completely alone. These situations must be dealt with the utmost care and that’s exactly why it’s in your best interest to team up with an experienced legal team. Your criminal defense lawyer will steady you throughout the entire legal process. Mr. Jennings will accomplish this by explaining the situation and answering any burning questions you may have. From there, he will get to work on your case. After all, it’s Mr. Jennings’ job to steer the ship, all while anchoring you to the present moment. Misdemeanors and felonies, especially, should be handled with a deft hand. Your criminal defense lawyer will provide the guidance your case deserves.

Your Criminal Defense Lawyer Will Devote Himself to Your Case

When it comes to criminal cases, it’s crucial to be aware of the most minute details. This is where Attorney W. Shane Jennings excels. No stone will be left unturned. He is well-known throughout the New Mexico area for his knack for detail. This trait has given Mr. Jennings the ability to discover unique details and aspects which he can later bring up in court for your benefit. Mr. Jennings has thousands of hours of experience in courtroom time. This means he can guide your case on the correct path. He will be with you every step of the way. You’ll be able to rest easy knowing your case is in good hands.

Contact W. Shane Jennings, Today!

If you’re facing criminal charges, contact the Law Office of W. Shane Jennings. Attorney W. Shane Jennings and his team are ready to help with your case. The sooner you reach out to us, the sooner we’ll be able to get to work. You deserve a hard-working legal defender, attorney W. Shane Jennings can provide this and so much more. Contact us today to learn more about what we can do to help.