What are New Mexico Civil Court Records?
New Mexico civil court records are records of civil court cases heard in courts within the state's jurisdiction. In civil case records, parties can expect to find case files, affidavits, orders, complaints, summons, motions, judgments, and other civil litigation-related documents. Civil court cases are non-criminal cases that involve disputes between individuals or businesses. Individuals or organizations typically initiate civil court. A civil court case begins when one party files a complaint with the court. Landlord/tenant disputes, property damage, personal injury, and contract disputes are examples of civil court cases. The Clerk of Court maintains civil court records in New Mexico. The Clerk also provides information to requestors about the location of court records, the status of a civil case, and access to court records.
Civil court records are also available online through official government websites like New Mexico Case Lookup, Secured Odyssey Public Access (SOPA), and re:SearchNM. Third-party sites like NewMexico.CourtRecords.us also provide online access to public civil court records.
Are New Mexico Civil Court Records Public Records In New Mexico?
Under the Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA), New Mexico Civil Court Records are accessible to the public. Interested persons can make public records requests online, by mail, or in person without stating the reasons for the requests. However, the law requires requesters to provide names, contact addresses, and telephone numbers when making written requests. Requesting parties must make all written requests as detailed as possible to identify and search for the records. Some records are exempted from public access under the IPRA. Exempted records include:
- Medical records
- Trade secrets
- Reference letters
- Confidential law enforcement records
- Matters of opinion
- State tactical responses or procedures
- Confidential Materials Act
- Any other records exempted by law
Records sealed by court order may be accessible to specific authorized individuals such as persons named on the record and the attorneys involved, some law enforcement agencies, and persons with a court order. In New Mexico, confidential information on a record may not exempt it from public access. However, such confidential information may be redacted while the unexempted parts of the record are made available on request.
Types of Cases in New Mexico Civil Court
New Mexico civil courts hear cases of non-criminal disputes between individuals and organizations. Examples of cases heard by civil courts are:
- Breach of Contract
- Small Claims
- Personal Injury
- Sex Offenses
- Child Support
- Juvenile delinquency
- Landlord/tenant disputes
- Property disputes
- Tax violations
- Student loans
- Crime Trial
- Tort Cases
What is the Difference Between Criminal Cases and Civil Cases?
Criminal cases involve offenses against the state or violations of the state's criminal code. Generally, criminal offenses are classified as felonies or misdemeanors. Felony crimes are the most serious offenses and often involve crimes against the person, property, the public, or the state. In New Mexico, felonies and misdemeanors are categorized by the severity of the offense. The classifications of felonies are:
- Capital felonies
- First-degree felonies
- Second-degree felonies
- Third-degree felonies
- Fourth-degree felonies
Capital felonies are the most serious felonies, and fourth-degree felonies are the least serious. Felony crimes are punishable by imprisonment in state prison, fines, or both imprisonment and fines. Felonies also result in collateral consequences. For example, convicted felons may lose civic rights, such as the right to vote or the right to bear arms. Misdemeanors are considered less serious offenses than felonies. The two classes of misdemeanors in New Mexico are misdemeanors and petty misdemeanors. While felonies are punishable by incarceration in state prison, misdemeanors are punishable by imprisonment in county jails, fines, or both imprisonment and fines.
Criminal trial courts hear cases of criminal litigation, such as:
While government agencies like the police typically initiate criminal cases, civil cases are initiated by individuals or organizations. Instead of a trial, mediation can resolve civil claims. Civil courts hear cases of disputes between individuals and businesses.
How Do I Find Civil Court Records In New Mexico?
The Clerk of Court maintains civil court records in the court where the case is filed. Civil cases are usually presented in the county where the complainant and respondent live, or where an alleged dispute occurs. Persons interested in finding copies of civil court records must visit the courthouse where the case was heard. In New Mexico, District Courts, Magistrate Courts, and the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court hear civil cases.
Requests for civil court records can be made verbally or in writing. If a party makes a written request, the request must include name, phone number, and address. Interested persons may also send a civil court records request to the courthouse by mail. Written requests must be as specific as possible. Fees may apply for the copying of records or to mail certified copies of civil court records.
How Do I Find Civil Court Records Online?
Since civil court records are public records, interested persons may make public records requests online through the IPRA. Information required to fill the form online include:
- Requestor's name
- Contact details such as email addresses, phone numbers, and residential addresses
- A specific description of the record
- The venue where the case was filed
Another online tool to find civil court records is the New Mexico Courts Case Lookup. Interested persons may view and download public court cases on the website at no charge. However, requestors must note that the NM Courts Case Lookup no longer displays driver's license numbers and full dates of birth. Only the birth year is listed. To access records of civil cases filed before 1997, interested persons may need to contact the court directly as the information may not be available on the Courts Case Lookup. Search options available on the lookup tool are name searches, case number searches, and DWI searches. The Secured Odyssey Public Access (SOPA) also provides access to civil court records. However, persons who choose to use SOPA must register for an account.
How to Get Civil Court Records Removed
Under the Inspection of Public Records Act, courts cannot remove civil court records by expungement. In New Mexico, expungement only applies to criminal cases and criminal history records. It may be possible, however, to have parts of the record sealed by court order. Sealed records or record parts are only accessible to authorized persons such as the person named on the record, the attorney or designated representatives, some law enforcement agencies, and persons with a court order.
How to Seal Civil Court Records in New Mexico?
Persons who want civil records sealed must file a motion for sealing with the court. Sole discretion as to the granting of the motion lies with the court. If the court determines that public interest outweighs the need for public access, it may be granted.