2018 New Mexico Statutes
Chapter 30 - Criminal Offenses
Article 2 - Homicide
Section 30-2-9 - Murderer may not profit from wrongdoing; public policy.

Universal Citation: NM Stat § 30-2-9 (2018)
30-2-9. Murderer may not profit from wrongdoing; public policy.

A. The acquiring, profiting or anticipating of benefits by reason of the commission of murder where the person committing such crime is convicted of either a capital, first or second degree felony, is against the public policy of this state and is prohibited.

B. In all cases involving devises or bequests, or heirships under the laws of descent and distribution, or cotenancies, or future interests, or community estates, or contracts, whether of real, personal or mixed properties, where a person, who, by committing murder and where such person is convicted of either a capital, first or second degree felony, and might receive some benefit therefrom either directly or indirectly, the common-law maxim to the effect that one cannot take advantage of his own wrong, shall control and be applied to the interpretation, construction and application of all statutes or decisions of this state in order to deprive and prevent him from profiting from such wrongful acts.

History: 1953 Comp., § 40A-2-10, enacted by Laws 1963, ch. 303, § 2-10.


Applicability. — This statute clearly requires a conviction of murder. Where defendant was convicted of vehicular homicide, a third degree felony, the forfeiture provision does not apply. Aranda v. Camacho, 1997-NMCA-010, 122 N.M. 763, 931 P.2d 757.

Section distinct from common law. — This section is not merely declaratory of the common law, nor is it a mere extension of or addition to the common-law maxim that a beneficiary may not profit by his own crime. Rose v. Rose, 1968-NMSC-115, 79 N.M. 435, 444 P.2d 762.

Nature of prohibition. — If the legislature had intended it as merely declaratory of the common law, it would have been easy to have said that one who is convicted of feloniously causing the death of another shall not benefit therefrom. However, the legislature, by express and unambiguous language, prohibited only those convicted of murder from so profiting. Rose v. Rose, 1968-NMSC-115, 79 N.M. 435, 444 P.2d 762.

Matter for legislature. — This is a legislative matter, and where, in 1942, prior to passage of Laws 1955, ch. 61, providing that a murderer could not inherit the estate of his victim, defendant killed his mother, pleading guilty to murder in the second degree for the crime, the court would refuse to amend or set aside the unambiguous statutes of descent and distribution under which the property of the mother descended to the son. Reagan v. Brown, 1955-NMSC-064, 59 N.M. 423, 285 P.2d 789.

Criminal proceeding determinative. — The question of whether the insured was murdered by the person to whom the property would ordinarily go is one to be judicially determined, the legislature having seen fit to provide that such determination must be ascertained in a criminal proceeding. Rose v. Rose, 1968-NMSC-115, 79 N.M. 435, 444 P.2d 762.

Law reviews. — For article, "The Perils of Intestate Succession in New Mexico and Related Will Problems," see 7 Nat. Resources J. 555 (1967).

Am. Jur. 2d, A.L.R. and C.J.S. references. — 23 Am. Jur. 2d Descent and Distribution §§ 101 to 109, 134; 41 Am. Jur. 2d Husband and Wife § 49; 44 Am. Jur. 2d Insurance § 1715.

Murder of life tenant by remainderman or reversioner as affecting latter's rights to remainder or reversion, 24 A.L.R.2d 1120.

Insurance: right to proceeds of life insurance, as between estate of murdered insured and alternative beneficiary named in policy, where murderer was made primary beneficiary, 26 A.L.R.2d 987.

Insurance: killing of insured by beneficiary as affecting life insurance or its proceeds, 27 A.L.R.3d 794.

Felonious killing of one cotenant by the other as affecting latter's rights in the property, 42 A.L.R.3d 1116.

Homicide as precluding taking under will or by intestacy, 25 A.L.R.4th 787.

26A C.J.S. Descent and Distribution § 47; 41 C.J.S. Husband and Wife § 32; 46A C.J.S. Insurance § 1429; 94 C.J.S. Wills § 104.

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