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New Mexico Arrest Records

When law enforcement officers in New Mexico make an arrest, the arrested party is transported to a detention center in the municipality of arrest. There, the party will go through a booking process, in which their fingerprints, photograph, and personal details will be compiled into an arrest record. 

New Mexico arrest records are crucial for background checks. Employers and landlords often review the records to check the criminal history of prospective employees and tenants. Arrest records are also vital for promoting transparency in the state's criminal justice system, maintaining public safety, and initiating criminal proceedings in court.

According to the New Mexico Department of Public Safety's Uniform Crime Report Summary for 2020, 22,736 offenses were committed in the state that year. The most common crimes reported were assault (8,414) and larceny (8,102).

Are Arrest Records Public in New Mexico?

Yes. Arrest records are public information in New Mexico per the Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA). For that reason, any member of the public can request arrest records from relevant government agencies. The IPRA allows individuals to take legal action if their access requests are denied. 

However, there are exceptions to the public's right of access in New Mexico. For example, under the Arrest Records Information Act, N.M. Stat. §§29-10-1 to -8, arrest records that reveal the identity of a suspect not charged with a crime are confidential in certain scenarios. A case in point is when the suspect's information was collected in connection with an investigation of another person charged with committing a crime.

Other confidential arrest records include records whose disclosure would interfere with a criminal investigation or endanger someone's life and juvenile arrest records per N.M. Stat. § 32A-2-32.

Interested parties can learn more about the laws and exceptions regarding arrest records in New Mexico from the Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA) Compliance Guide, courtesy of the Attorney General's office

What is Included in New Mexico Arrest Records?

The following components make up a New Mexico arrest record:

  • Biometric information, including the arrestee's photograph, fingerprint impressions, and palm print impressions 
  • Personal information, such as the arrestee's full name, date of birth, address, sex, and occupation
  • Physical descriptors, including the arrestee's race and eye color 
  • Arrest details (the date, time, and place of arrest)
  • Arresting agency and officer
  • Offense(s), including code and description
  • State arrest tracking number (assigned to the arrest record)
  • State personal identification number (assigned to the arrestee)
  • Bond amount

Find Public Arrest Records in New Mexico

Individuals can find public arrest records in New Mexico by submitting an IPRA request to the county sheriff's office where an arrest occurred. Although the IPRA allows parties to request records orally, written requests are preferable. A requester must include their name, address, and phone number in their application. 

Often, a person will find a records request form on a county sheriff's website that they may fill out and submit to obtain available arrest records. Individuals must accurately describe the record they seek, including details such as an arrestee's name, date of birth, and arrest date. This information enables the relevant agency's custodian to identify the sought-after record(s) and process the request.

When sending an IPRA request, interested parties should note the following:

  • They can submit written requests in person, via email, fax, or U.S. mail.
  • New Mexico law requires record custodians to respond to requests immediately or as soon as practicable but at most 15 calendar days after they receive a request.
  • If, for any reason, a custodian cannot permit inspection within three business days, they must send a written response to the requester detailing when the record will be ready.
  • If a record is confidential, the custodian must explain the denial and applicable laws via written communication.
  • Any denial must be mailed or delivered to the requester within 15 days from when the record custodian received the request.

Generally, individuals can view public arrest records at no cost. However, the record custodian may charge reasonable fees for copies of records, which are usually paid in advance.

Interested parties may also contact a sheriff's records department or check the department's website for information about accessing the arrest documents they maintain. For example, the Roswell Police Department provides an online resource for individuals to search arrest records. If one does not find the records they seek, they can call the Roswell Police Department, visit the agency's records section during normal business hours, or email them.

It should be noted that after an arrest in New Mexico, the arresting agency submits the information gathered during the booking process to the New Mexico State Central Repository for Criminal History. This repository contains the arrest information of persons apprehended for misdemeanors, felonies, and DWI offenses. Individuals can obtain the information by querying the New Mexico Department of Public Safety (NMDPS).

However, the NMDPS only releases arrest records to:

  • The subject of a record (who may apply through their representatives) after submitting a completed and notarized Authorization for Release of Information form and paying the $15 processing fee
  • Employees or other eligible New Mexico residents who apply electronically by submitting a subject's fingerprint and meeting other conditions

Interested parties can learn more about requesting NMDPS records by visiting the agency's Fingerprinting and Background Checks page.

Searchers should also note that the courts in New Mexico do not maintain law enforcement records or conduct background checks. 

Individuals, corporate organizations, and agencies not permitted to access restricted or non-public arrest records in Idaho can apply to a court with jurisdiction to subpoena the records. However, the petitioner must have a legitimate reason for the request. For example, one may show that they are a party to a legal proceeding where the discovery of such records is crucial. 

Per N.M. R. Civ. P. Dist. Ct. 1-045, a subpoena may command a person to produce designated documents for inspection, copying, and otherwise. Interested parties are advised to contact their attorneys for personalized information on obtaining restricted arrest records through subpoena in New Mexico.

How to Lookup Arrest Records Online in New Mexico 

There are several avenues for looking up New Mexico arrest records online, including county sheriff's websites and third-party databases.

County sheriff's offices in New Mexico maintain records of arrests within their jurisdictions and may provide online search tools to enable individuals to find information about suspects. These offices may also offer online solutions to check if someone was jailed after an arrest. For example, individuals can access the inmate search tool on the Bernalillo County Sheriff's official website to verify whether an arrestee is at the Metropolitan Detention Center.

Alternatively, searchers can leverage online third-party websites to find arrest information. To obtain results from a third-party website, the interested persons must input information about the record's holder—usually the arrestee's first and last name. It is always advised to verify information obtained from third-party sources with official sources.

How Long Do Arrests Stay on Your Record in New Mexico?

Generally, arrests remain visible on a person's criminal record in New Mexico until expunged or sealed. 

However, arrest records retained by local law enforcement agencies may be destroyed after a certain period elapses. Retention here refers to the duration agencies are expected to keep records in their custody.

According to New Mexico's Functional Records and Disposition Schedules (FRDS), law enforcement agencies retain their case files (including records of arrests) for 10 years from when a file was closed. When this time passes, they can destroy the records per the law. 

Expunge an Arrest Record in New Mexico

A court petition must be filed to expunge an arrest record in New Mexico. The effect of an expungement is that the record will not appear on background checks and will be regarded as if it never existed. Subsequently, the person who obtained the expungement order can claim they were never arrested. This is particularly useful when applying for tenancy or a job (excluding jobs at a regulated financial institution). However, although the general public cannot access an expunged record, courts, law enforcement divisions, and other criminal justice agencies retain access.

Per the New Mexico Criminal Records Expungement Act (CREA), an individual whose case was dismissed must wait a year to expunge their arrest record. The person must also not have any pending criminal charges or proceedings anywhere. 

On the other hand, a defendant must wait longer periods before applying for an expungement for arrests that led to a conviction. The waiting time depends on the severity of the crime. For example, individuals convicted of non-violent misdemeanors must wait 2 years, but felony convicts are only eligible after 4 to 10 years. Furthermore, such expungements are granted at the court's discretion, and the requester must prove that justice will be served with the expungement order.

Factors that may influence a court's decision include:

  • The nature and severity of the crime
  • The requester's criminal history and age 
  • The length of time since conviction 
  • Repercussions of denying the petition
  • Any objections raised by the prosecutor and other affected parties

Some arrest records cannot be expunged in New Mexico. These include arrests that ended in a conviction for:

  • Crimes against children
  • Sex offenses 
  • Violent crimes resulting in fatality or grievous bodily harm
  • Embezzlement
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI)

Below are the steps for requesting an expungement in New Mexico: 

  • Fill out the appropriate New Mexico Court Expungement Forms, which include Notice of Hearing, Order on the Petition to Expunge, and Petition to Expunge. One also needs specific supporting documents to be filed alongside the forms, such as the person's arrest, court, and sentencing records. (Arrest records should be obtained from the DPS.) It is important to make copies of every document to be submitted. 
  • File the petition with the district court in the region where a case was heard or an arrest occurred. This is regardless of whether a trial was held in a municipal or metropolitan court.
  • Pay the $132 expungement fee in cash or via cashier's check or money order. However, one may qualify for a waiver.
  • Send copies of the petition and supporting documents to the Department of Public Safety, the district attorney, and the police department connected to the case via certified mail.
  • Wait for the court to set a date to hear the petition. During the hearing, the court will ask the individual questions about their request and attend to any objections. 
  • After the hearing, wait about 30 days for the court to reach and communicate its decision. Individuals who had their expungement requests denied can petition the Court of Appeals to assess the decision. It is advisable to hire an experienced expungement lawyer for the appeals process.

Note that New Mexico only permits record sealing in two cases. The first is the automatic sealing of juvenile arrest records when a child turns 18 or when the juvenile's legal custody and supervision expires, whichever comes later. The second situation is when human trafficking victims perform crimes under duress, threat, fraud, force, or coercion by the trafficker. Apart from these instances, arrest records are rarely sealed. 

For the most part, sealing and expungement produce identical effects in New Mexico, i.e., a record will be hidden from the public view and made available only to authorized parties.

How Do I Find Recent Arrests in New Mexico?

Interested parties can find recent arrest information in New Mexico on the official websites of arresting police departments and sheriff's offices. For example, Bernalillo County maintains an online arrest list displaying daily arrests for the county. Individuals may also search the database for arrests within the past week. Another example is the Roswell Police Department's recent arrests database.

Are New Mexico Arrest Records Free?

It depends on whether the interested party requests an electronic or printed record. Generally, arrest record custodians in New Mexico do not charge fees for arrest records disseminated electronically. However, members of the public who require printed copies of arrest records may be asked to pay a reasonable cost per copy.

Similarly, individuals may need to pay fees to obtain arrest records from third-party websites.

New Mexico Arrest Records
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