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What is New Mexico Juvenile Court Records?

The New Mexico Juvenile Justice system constitutes laws, state courts, detention centers, and residential/treatment facilities. The New Mexico Delinquency Act guides all juvenile matters in the state. According to the decree, adjudged delinquents are not considered convicted criminals; hence, the government is more protective of them. Through the act, New Mexico seeks to provide effective deterrents to juvenile delinquency behaviors, successfully reintegrate children into homes and communities, and hold them accountable for their actions.

Delinquent acts are addressed in the children’s court division of the New Mexico District Courts. Juvenile records include the legal files, social documents, and descriptions created, stored, and disseminated during proceedings. New Mexico is one of the few states in the United States that allow juvenile court hearings to be open to the public without exception.

What Information is Contained in a New Mexico Juvenile Record?

New Mexico Juvenile court records mainly contain legal, social, educational, and psychological information about delinquent children. The document specifies the child’s family data, assessment, evaluation information, and other details relating to the offense. It also contains the juvenile court proceedings, such as the court’s decision on the child’s supervision, treatment, and rehabilitation upon the adjudication. The record will also include general details such as case number, respondent’s name, case type and title, filing date, attorney information, hearing date and time, presiding judge, and register of actions.

What Cases are Heard by New Mexico Juvenile Courts?

The Children’s Court is the court of limited jurisdiction that addresses juvenile cases in New Mexico. The court only acts in the manner expressly authorized by statute. The New Mexico Delinquency Act recognizes three categories of juvenile cases:

  • A delinquent offender
  • A youthful offender
  • A serious youthful offender

These classifications determine where the case will be heard, in a regular district court or a children’s court. It also decides if the offender will be given a juvenile disposition or an adult sentence. According to the delinquency act, the children’s court has jurisdiction over all matters under the children’s code, especially cases where a child (under 18) allegedly committed a delinquent act. As specified by the law, a “delinquent act” is an act committed by a child that would be normally be designated as a crime if committed by an adult.

According to section 32A–2–3(A) of the New Mexico statutes, delinquent acts include:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Failure to stop in the event of an accident that resulted in death, personal injury, or damage to property
  • Stealing a motor vehicle
  • Changing vehicle identification numbers such as engine numbers or license plates
  • Forging a driver’s license or permit
  • Reckless driving
  • Driving with a suspended or revoked license
  • Buying or attempting to purchase alcoholic beverages
  • Being in a licensed liquor establishment (except in the presence of a parent, guardian, custodian, or adult spouse)
  • A violation of the Controlled Substances Act
  • Fleeing from the custody of a law enforcement officer, juvenile probation or parole officer or from any placement made by the Children, Youth, and Families Department

According to state laws, youthful or serious youthful offender cases are quite different from regular instances of delinquency. The laws state that a “serious youthful offender” is a child aged 15 to 18 years charged with a violent offense, a felony offense, has three prior felony convictions, or is adjudicated for first-degree murder. Such children will be transferred to the state criminal justice system, where they will be tried in the district court under the laws applicable to adult offenders. Although the children’s court has exclusive original jurisdiction over all proceedings in which a child is accused of being a “delinquent child,” its jurisdiction extends to court proceedings where the accused is eighteen or older but was a child at the time of the alleged offense. In such situations, the district court is mandated to transfer the case to the children’s court.

Who is Eligible to View Juvenile Records in New Mexico

Juvenile records are generally confidential and cannot be disclosed to the public, according to N. M. Stat. § 32A–2–32. However, to perform their lawful duties, the following individuals or entities can view juvenile records if it concerns the child’s specific needs:

  • Law enforcement officials
  • Corrections department personnel
  • Court personnel
  • School personnel
  • Social care representatives
  • Health care or mental health professionals
  • District attorneys
  • Children’s court attorneys
  • State government social service agencies
  • The child’s court-appointed special advocates
  • The child’s parent, guardian, or legal custodian

However, this does NOT imply that they will access all of the records. They are only allowed to view the parts of the record required to fulfill their duties. Additionally, the law opposes sharing or releasing this information to another individual or entity. Any person who does this is guilty of a petty misdemeanor under §32A–2–32(E). Regardless, if the child delinquent is at least 14 years old, some parts of the juvenile records are available to any other person or entity by court order.

How to Find Juvenile Records in New Mexico

The New Mexico Judiciary maintains and distributes court records, and almost all court documents are considered public information in the state. However, due to the sensitive nature of the information within juvenile records, they are not readily accessible. Although the state judiciary has a public portal that provides online access to civil, criminal, and family cases, inquirers interested in accessing juvenile records must visit the court that filed the record or heard the case. In New Mexico, juvenile records are sealed when the subject is 18 years old, regardless of the nature of the crime committed. These sealed records are only accessible to selected personnel such as law enforcement officials and social workers. But with a court order, citizens may access juvenile records maintained by the New Mexico district courts.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

Can you Lookup New Mexico Juvenile Records Online?

Yes, some juvenile records are accessible on public access websites. However, according to the delinquency act, certain parts of juvenile information or records may not be disclosed on these websites. In New Mexico, public access websites are not allowed to release information subject to the Delinquency Act’s confidentiality provisions. These include information concerning the arrest or detention of a child, details of the adjudication and delinquency proceedings, the juvenile disposition or adult sentence imposed on a child, and personal identification information about a child. Hence, they can only give necessary case information regarding the case; otherwise, they will be breaking the law.

Do New Mexico Juvenile Records Show up on Background Checks?

Yes, parts of New Mexico juvenile records are included in background checks. Generally, criminal records of arrests and convictions are not open to the public in New Mexico. However, information such as the arresting agency, sentencing, and nature of conviction is included in background checks. In like manner, while a New Mexico background check may not contain the entirety of a juvenile record, it may show basic docket information about an unsealed juvenile case. The state does not prohibit the inclusion of such information in background checks, provided the information is not subject to the Delinquency Act’s confidentiality provisions. §32A–2–29.

How Long are Juvenile Records Kept in New Mexico?

Juvenile records in New Mexico are open, valid, and available until they are sealed by court order. The New Mexico judiciary permits the sealing of juvenile records generated in the state, automatically or on request. The children’s court attorneys are obligated to ensure that the juvenile records of a child determined by the court not to be a delinquent offender are automatically sealed after the conclusion of the court proceedings.

The state also seals juvenile records when the perpetrator reaches the age of 18 or when the disposition expires. Upon entering a sealing order, the records are thereby invalid and treated as if the offense never occurred. However, they may remain on file for research, investigation, and reporting purposes, but they are completely restricted from public view.

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