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Time’s Up: Understanding New Mexico’s Civil and Criminal Statute of Limitations

New Mexico Civil and Criminal Statute of Limitations: What You Need to Know

Have you ever wondered how much time you have to file a lawsuit or press criminal charges in New Mexico? The answer lies in the state’s Statute of Limitations (SOL).

The SOL is a legal deadline that sets a maximum time limit for filing a lawsuit or pressing criminal charges. The purpose of SOL is to protect the defendant’s right to a fair trial and prevent plaintiffs from filing stale claims, which are difficult to defend against due to the loss of evidence and the fading of memories.

Therefore, it is essential to understand the SOL in your state to avoid losing your right to seek justice or face criminal punishment. This article will walk you through the New Mexico Civil and Criminal Statute of Limitations, including the types of cases and crimes that fall under the SOL, the deadlines involved, and exceptions that may affect the SOL.

Let’s dive in!

New Mexico Civil Statute of Limitations

The New Mexico civil SOL defines the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit or claim for damages resulting from civil wrongs. Civil wrongs encompass a wide range of issues, including personal injury, contracts, defamation, and fraud.

Types of cases with deadlines

Fraud: In New Mexico, the SOL for fraud is six years. This means you have up to six years from the time you discovered or should have discovered the fraud to file a lawsuit.

Libel or slander: If someone defames you through libel (written) or slander (spoken), you have three years from the time of the defamatory act to file a lawsuit. Keep in mind that challenging defamation cases require proof that the statements made against you are false.

Injury to person: Personal injury claims, such as car accidents, slip-and-falls, and medical malpractice, come with a SOL of three years. It’s essential to note that the clock begins ticking from the date the injury occurred or was discovered, not from the date of malpractice.

Injury to personal property: If your property gets damaged or stolen, the SOL for filing a claim is four years from the date of the damage. Trespass: If someone trespasses on your property, you have four years to seek legal action.

Professional malpractice: Medical malpractice and legal malpractice fall under professional malpractice cases. The SOL varies depending on the type of malpractice and the circumstances involved.

For medical malpractice, the SOL is three years from the date of malpractice or the date of discovery. For legal malpractice, the SOL is usually two years, starting from the time you discovered or should have discovered the malpractice.

Collection of debt on account: Debt collectors have four years from the due date to recover the debt. However, if you make a payment, the SOL restarts from that date.

Contracts (written and oral): The SOL for written contracts is six years, while the SOL for oral agreements is four years. Judgments: If you win a judgment in court, you have up to fourteen years to collect the debt.

Child sexual abuse claims: Given the sensitive nature of these cases, recent legal updates in New Mexico allow survivors to file a lawsuit until they turn 38. The law previously had a two-year SOL post their 18th birthday.

New Mexico Criminal Statute of Limitations

The New Mexico criminal SOL defines the period in which criminal charges can be brought forward by the State against an accused person. The SOL varies depending on the severity of the crime committed.

Types of crimes with deadlines

Capital Felonies: For capital crimes, there is no SOL. This means that the state can press charges for murder, arson, or treason whenever they find enough evidence.

First-Degree Felonies: The SOL for first-degree felonies is six years, starting from the time the crime was committed. Second-Degree Felonies: The SOL for second-degree felonies is four years.

Third-Degree Felonies and Fourth-Degree Felonies: Third-degree and fourth-degree felonies carry a SOL of three years and two years, respectively. Misdemeanors: The SOL for misdemeanors is two years from the time the act was committed.

Petty misdemeanors: Petty misdemeanor charges usually have no SOL or a limited SOL of 180 days. Child sexual abuse claims: The SOL for child sexual abuse charges is dependent on the age of the victim.

If the victim is below the age of 13 at the time of the offense, the case can be brought forward within six years of the victim’s 18th birthday. If they are between ages 13 and 18, charges can be made until the victim reaches the age of 28.

Depending on the offense committed, circumstances may affect the SOL for both civil and criminal cases. For instance, if the defendant is a minor or a non-resident, the SOL may be extended or tolled, meaning the clock stops ticking for a specified period.

In conclusion, understanding the New Mexico civil and criminal SOL is essential in seeking legal action or defending against accusations. If in doubt, it is recommended to seek legal counsel to ensure you don’t lose your right to justice or face unwarranted charges.

Acts During Which Statute Does Not Run: Understanding the Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations in New Mexico

The statute of limitations (SOL) in New Mexico is a legal deadline that sets a maximum amount of time that a person has to bring an action, either in civil or criminal matters. The purpose of SOL is to promote fairness and justice by ensuring that claims are brought forward while the evidence and memories are still fresh.

However, there are exceptions to the SOL for certain situations, which pause or stop the clock from ticking and prevent the deadline from running out. In this article, we will delve into the exceptions to the statute of limitations in New Mexico, including the situations when the clock stops running and the impact of each exception.

The Alleged Criminal is Fleeing Justice or Not a Resident of the State

One of the most common reasons why the clock on the SOL may stop running is when the alleged criminal is fleeing from justice or is not a resident of the state. This exception is also known as tolling, and it allows the state to extend or pause the SOL while waiting for the defendant’s return.

In New Mexico, the tolling provision applies when the defendant is in a different state or country and cannot be located or apprehended. For instance, if someone commits a crime in New Mexico and then leaves the state, the countdown on the SOL does not start until they return.

The clock will stop running until the defendant is apprehended, extradited to the state, or voluntarily returns to face charges. This is essential because it ensures that the defendant does not take advantage of the SOL and evade justice.

Procedural Defects

Another exception that could pause the statute of limitations is when there are procedural defects in a case. These defects refer to errors that occur during a lawsuit, such as when the correct procedures are not followed, and could lead to the case being dismissed.

In such cases, the statute of limitations may be temporarily paused until the defects are fixed. This would allow the plaintiff or the prosecution to re-file the case after correcting the procedural defects and remain within the SOL.

DNA Evidence for Criminal Sexual Penetration with an Unidentified Suspect

New Mexico also provides another exception where the statute of limitations does not run if there is DNA evidence for criminal sexual penetration with an unidentified suspect. This exception is relatively new and it was implemented in 2020.

The law applies when a sexual assault survivor undergoes a forensic examination kit and the evidence is submitted to the state. If the evidence remains unidentified, the SOL for making a charge does not start running.

This means that the survivor has an indefinite amount of time to make the charge and may do so when there’s a match to the DNA sample. It’s important to note that this exception does not apply when the identity of the suspect is known.

In such cases, the SOL runs even if there is DNA evidence available.


Understanding the exceptions to the statute of limitations is crucial as it grants individuals the opportunity to seek justice, even if the normal timeframe for filing a claim has elapsed. The situations where the statute is paused, or extended, as indicated in this article, ensure that the court system can work effectively and bring the accused to justice.

As we have highlighted, exceptions like fleeing from justice, procedural defects, and DNA evidence where the suspect is unidentified are critical legal considerations that individuals and legal practitioners should keep in mind when filing suits or defending cases. By realizing these nuances of the statute of limitations, people can ensure that they get the legal representation they deserve and that justice prevails.

In conclusion, understanding the New Mexico statute of limitations and its exceptions is critical for plaintiffs, defendants, and legal practitioners. While the SOL serves a crucial purpose in preventing stale claims and ensuring fairness, there are certain exceptions that pause or stop the clock to allow for justice to be served.

These exceptions include fleeing from justice, procedural defects, and DNA evidence where the suspect is unidentified. By considering these nuances, people can navigate the legal system effectively and ensure that justice prevails.

Ultimately, it is important for everyone to educate themselves on the statute of limitations to exercise their rights and avoid losing out on legal remedies.

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