Tribal Criminal Cases
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Officers use a bond schedule to determine the bond. Bond is set as “cash only” or “cash/surety” and can be posted with a bonding company or at the detention facility. A cash/surety bond requires ten-percent (10%) of the amount to be posted. Bond is held until the end of the case to ensure the defendant’s appearance in court. If a defendant cannot post bond he or she is transported for an arraignment within forty-eight (48) hours. Bonding companies charge a fee and do not refund the bond, however bond posted at the detention facility is forwarded to Isleta Tribal Court and may be refunded to the posting-party at the end of the case (not to the defendant). Before a bond refund check can be processed the posting-party must complete a W-9 form form and submit it to the Court. It takes approximately two to three weeks for the Tribal Treasurer’s Office to process bond refund checks. Bond refund checks are picked up at the Court.
The arraignment is the first hearing in a criminal case when the judge advises the defendant of his or her rights, criminal charges and possible penalties and the defendant enters a plea of not guilty, guilty or no contest. When a defendant pleads “not guilty” the judge reviews the bond to determine whether it should be increased, decreased or remain the same. The bond is based on the defendant’s criminal history and seriousness of the charge(s). Police Officers are not required to attend the arraignment.
Conditions of Release
At the arraignment the Court sets “Conditions of Release” which the defendant must abide by while the case is pending. The typical conditions of release include: not having contact with the victim and/or witnesses; not returning to the location of the incident; not purchasing, possessing, or consuming illegal drugs or alcohol; not possessing weapons of any kind; and not leaving the State of New Mexico. The defendant must also obey all tribal, local, state, and federal laws, appear in Court as ordered and maintain current contact information with the Court. If it is determined that a defendant has violated Conditions of Release the judge can issue a bench warrant for the defendant’s arrest, increase the bond and/or impose a sanction of jail time.
Requesting a Continuance (criminal cases)
A defendant requesting a continuance in a criminal case must file a Motion to Continue at least seven (7) days before the hearing or in the event of an emergency the party must contact the Court as soon as possible. In criminal cases the defendant must also add time to “the Rule,” which is the Tribe’s time-limit for prosecuting the case. According to the Isleta Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rule 4.3 the Prosecutor has (180) days from the date of arraignment to prosecute the case. The time varies depending on whether or not the defendant was arrested and/or incarcerated.
When a judge issues a bench warrant it is forwarded to Isleta Police Department (IPD) for entry into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) which notifies law enforcement agencies across the country that the defendant has a bench warrant from Isleta Tribal Court. Judges will sometimes allow a defendant to be seen as a “walk-in” to address a bench warrant but it depends on whether the judge is available or if there have been previous bench warrants issued.
Persons who receive a traffic citation and choose to address the charges in court must attend a traffic arraignment. The “Court Appearance” box is marked on the citation and the date and time of the arraignment is indicated at the bottom of the citation. Once this box is marked the person must appear for the traffic arraignment. Failure to appear for a traffic arraignment will result in a bench warrant. At the arraignment the defendant is advised of his or her rights, the charges and possible penalties and the judge reviews the citations to determine whether probable cause exists for each charge. The judge does not negotiate or make agreements with defendants. The Officer will not be present at the arraignment and their presence is not required.
Paying a Traffic Citation
If the “Penalty Assessment” box is marked on the citation the penalty must be paid either by mail or in person within thirty (30) days of receiving the citation. Citations must be paid by money order or cashier’s check made payable to Isleta Tribal Court and must include a copy of the citation. Do not mail court appearance or traffic arraignment citations to the Santa Fe Motor Vehicle Department (MVD). If the Court does not receive payment within (30) days, a bench warrant is issued. Those who cannot pay the fine/fee can request to make payments or perform community service hours in lieu of payment. This request must be made using the Request to Convert Fines form.
Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) charges
In 1987 the Pueblo of Isleta adopted the New Mexico Motor Vehicle laws found in the New Mexico Statutes Annotated (NMSA) Chapter 66. Therefore the Isleta Tribal Court adheres to the New Mexico DWI law at NMSA § 66-8-102 which outlines requirements for defendants who either plead guilty or are found guilty of a DWI charge.
Domestic Violence charges
Defendants charged with domestic violence are usually required to get an assessment to determine their counseling needs and must complete either anger management or domestic violence counseling. The Court also imposes Conditions of Release at the arraignment which prohibits the defendant from the following: purchasing, possessing or consuming illegal drugs and alcohol; having any contact with the victim; returning to the location of the incident; and possessing any weapons or firearms.
Defendants ordered to report to the Probation Officer may be required to report daily, weekly or monthly as ordered by the Judge. The Probation Officer monitors defendants on supervised probation, pre-trial services and pre-sentence probation and conducts random drug and alcohol testing. Probation also informs the Court whether defendants are complying with Conditions of Release, counseling, the SCRAM, Soberlink, or GPS units. The Probation Officer also monitors sex offenders required to register with the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) and maintains communication with State and Federal Probation Officers.
Monitoring by Device
The Court typically orders defendants to be placed on the SCRAM bracelet, Soberlink, or GPS unit. The SCRAM and Soberlink devices monitor alcohol consumption and reports violations to the Court. The SCRAM bracelet is downloaded at least once a week. Defendants with a LAN line can obtain a modem to download at home and those without a LAN line can download at the customer service window. The GPS device provides 24-hour location monitoring to ensure defendants comply with Conditions of Release. Those placed on devices must pay $4.50 per day and if unable to pay may perform community service at the rate of $10.00 per hour in lieu of payment. Defendants are responsible for the cost to replace or repair any lost or damaged device.