NM Supreme Court upholds habitual offender ruling - Albuquerque Journal

NM Supreme Court upholds habitual offender ruling

New Mexico Supreme Court. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

SANTA FE – Defendants must be informed about the possibility of facing additional prison time if their plea agreement involves multiple offenses and they violate probation, the New Mexico Supreme Court said.

The split ruling issued Monday came in the case of a woman who admitted to having prior felony convictions.

The court’s majority affirmed a district judge’s decision to lengthen the sentence of Christina Banghart-Portillo because of probation violations after her release from prison in 2016. She was a little over halfway through a three-year probationary period and had argued that the enhancement for being a habitual offender amounted to double jeopardy.

The Supreme Court’s majority found that the district court had structured the defendant’s probation as a cumulative amount of time for her two felony convictions rather than individual back-to-back segments of 18 months of probation for each conviction.

The court suggested that language outlining the terms of how a sentence is to be carried out should be specified in plea agreements or risk creating ambiguity.

The court’s majority wrote that Banghart-Portillo’s written plea agreement was silent about the possibility of enhancement of either count if she violated probation. However, the majority concluded that the district court during the defendant’s sentencing hearing had resolved any ambiguities by informing her of the potential consequences if she violated probation.

In a dissenting opinion, Justice David K. Thomson wrote that allowing the district court to enhance the sentence on the first count violated concepts of double jeopardy. Justice Briana H. Zamora joined in the dissent.

Banghart-Portillo had pleaded no contest to counts of evidence tampering and conspiracy to commit evidence tampering. She and another man were arrested in 2014 on outstanding warrants. After being booked, a dispatcher saw her attempt to swallow a plastic bag of heroin handed to her by the man.

After multiple probation violations, the district court revoked Banghart-Portillo’s probation and imposed six years of habitual offender time on her sentence.

Election Guide

Home » ABQnews Seeker » NM Supreme Court upholds habitual offender ruling


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
Ian lashes South Carolina as Florida's death toll climbs
ABQnews Seeker
A revived Hurricane Ian pounded coastal ... A revived Hurricane Ian pounded coastal South Carolina on Friday, ripping apart piers and flooding streets after the ferocious storm caused catastrophic damage in ...
2
Man found guilty in 2019 shooting death
ABQnews Seeker
Police: Argument outside woman's house led ... Police: Argument outside woman's house led to fight
3
Federal judge bars IDing defendant as SNM gang member
ABQnews Seeker
Man convicted on firearms charges Man convicted on firearms charges
4
Prep football: Cibola stays unbeaten, tops Atrisco Heritage
ABQnews Seeker
For the first time in a ... For the first time in a month, no comeback was required for the Cibola Cougars. Cibola has been living on the edge in recent ...
5
Lawsuit filed after in-custody death in McKinley County
ABQnews Seeker
Suit denounces incident as a ‘violent ... Suit denounces incident as a ‘violent and abhorrent killing’
6
Visitor center now completed, but not yet unlocked
ABQnews Seeker
Route 66 Visitor Center is ribbon-cut ... Route 66 Visitor Center is ribbon-cut ready, but won't open until 2023
7
Two MDC officers testify in their trial over inmate's ...
ABQnews Seeker
Each is charged with involuntary manslaughter, ... Each is charged with involuntary manslaughter, faces 1-2 years in prison
8
Lujan Grisham rescinds six pandemic-related executive orders
ABQnews Seeker
Move is part of a periodic ... Move is part of a periodic review of COVID-19 mitigation measures
9
Albuquerque Aloft continues to thrill students
ABQnews Seeker
Some 179 balloons were inflated at ... Some 179 balloons were inflated at about 116 schools in and around the city