New Mexico Public Records
Aspiring genealogists, potential employers and those settling estates may all have reasons to want to hunt down public records in New Mexico. But even with the best of intentions, you may not always have an easy time tracking down the vital record, inmate results or court documents you need. Sometimes, the public record is just hard to find. After all, they may be handled by a variety of different departments. In other cases, the record isn’t available to the public due to exemptions.
In New Mexico, you’ll have the law on your side. That’s because the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA) and the Open Meetings Act (OMA) give the public the right to inspect public records, which includes almost all public records in state and local government. There are only 12 exemptions to public access and they’re pretty in line with other states’ Freedom of Information Act laws.
To help you get started as you attempt to track down public records in the Land of Enchantment, we’ve put together a simple guide.
Table of Contents
- 1 What does the New Mexico public records law say?
- 2 How can a person access public records in New Mexico?
- 3 New Mexico Criminal Records
- 4 New Mexico inmate records
- 5 New Mexico court records
- 6 New Mexico vital records
- 7 Frequently asked questions about New Mexico records
What does the New Mexico public records law say?
Under the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act, anyone—even non-citizens—can gain access to public records. In most cases you can’t be asked why you are seeking the record. Although there is no administrative appeals process, it is possible to file a suit against the agency if your request was illegally denied. You can be awarded attorney fees and up to $100 per day in damages.
To learn more about the law, visit NewMexico.gov.
How can a person access public records in New Mexico?
According to the New Mexico IPRA Compliance Guide, anyone seeking a public record can submit an oral or written request to the custodian of the relevant agency. A written request includes submissions by mail, email or fax.
In order to obtain the public record in a timely manner, be sure to include the following information in your request:
- Your name, address and phone number
- A clear description of the records you’re seeking (not necessarily the exact record needed though)
- Acknowledgement to pay any applicable fees for copying and transmitting the records, including any requirement to pay the fees in advance.
- A sentence requesting who you should contact instead if the original agency does not maintain the particular public record.
Keep in mind that some state offices have limited hours due to COVID-19. If you plan any of the government agencies in person, it’s a good idea to call ahead. In addition, many offices are asking that you wear a mask to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
New Mexico Criminal Records
Criminal records in New Mexico are compiled from a wealth of information supplied by local, county and state-operated institutions, including correctional facilities, law enforcement offices, and trial and appeal courts. Most of the criminal records in New Mexico are kept in an online record depository. The Department of Public Safety maintains these records, which can be obtained through a criminal background report.
What’s on a criminal record?
A criminal record, colloquially known as a “rap sheet,” is a collection of that person’s criminal activity within the state jurisdiction. This official collection of documents provides a compilation of arrests, criminal offenses, indictments, convictions and, in some cases, incarceration details.
- The full name of the subject, as well as any known aliases
- Personal information (e.g., birth year, race/ethnicity and sex)
- A photo and details on unique physical descriptors (e.g., moles, scars, tattoos)
- Previous and current indictments
- Arrest records, including outstanding warrants
- Conviction information
Where can a person find New Mexico criminal records?
- Resource: New Mexico Department of Public Safety
The New Mexico Department of Public Safety maintains criminal records. To obtain a record, you must submit a signed and notarized authorization form along with a $15 check to the Department of Public Safety. You can find the necessary forms by clicking the link above.
Requested records will be mailed to you within 7-14 days.
You can also do a quick search of criminal records through the New Mexico Court Case Lookup tool too. There’s plenty of detailed information on arrests, crimes, pleas, verdicts, and more.
There’s also a searchable Sex Offender Registry hosted by the New Mexico Department of Public Safety. Anyone can use the service to check by name, city, area/neighborhood, non-compliant offenders, internet names, email address or phone numbers.
New Mexico inmate records
The New Mexico Corrections Department has eight divisions, including the Adult Prisons Division (APD), which houses over 6,800 inmates in 11 prison facilities throughout the state, and the Probation and Parole Division (PPD), which supervises approximately 18,500 offenders.
What’s on an inmate record?
Public records are available on most New Mexico inmates who are currently incarcerated, on probation and/or parole. The following information will show up in search results:
- Name and aliases
- Height and weight
- Hair color, eye color and complexion
- NMCD #
- Offender #
- Current offenses and court judgment
- Past offenses and release date
- Offender or supervision status
Where can a person find New Mexico inmate records?
The New Mexico Corrections Department (NMCD) hosts an offender search online to the general public with information about inmates and those on probation and/or parole supervision.
To search for an inmate in the state of New Mexico, you must know the offender’s first and/or last name or NMCD Number to start the search. The NMCD doesn’t have jurisdiction over the county’s or city’s detention facilities.
New Mexico court records
Although there are some exceptions, most court records in New Mexico are available to the public. Online access is free and available for Appellate Court, Magistrate Court, Metropolitan Court and New Mexico District Court records.
What’s on a court record?
Court records show the following information:
- Case number
- Party name and type (e.g., plaintiff, defendant respondent)
- Case title
- Filing date
- Hearing date, time, type and judge
- Register of actions activity
- Judge assignment history
Where can a person find New Mexico court records?
- Resource: New Mexico Case Lookup
The New Mexico courts provide a searchable database of court records called Case Lookup which allows anyone to search for a wide variety of information, including charges, judgments, parties and docket entries.
The search tool can provide court documents from the following courts: New Mexico Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, District Court, Magistrate Court and Municipal Court. Municipal court data is limited to criminal Domestic Violence and DWI convictions.
To narrow down your search, enter either the case number or, if you don’t have it, specific criteria for a record, such as the person’s name, driver’s license, date of birth or social security number. The more information you input, the more targeted your results. You can also limit your search to the case’s category, court type or particular location, as well as the date the case was filed.
New Mexico vital records
In New Mexico, vital records—such as birth and death certificates and marriage and divorce records—can be ordered online, by phone, in writing or in person. Not all records are open to public request and you’ll be expected to provide proof of identity (and possibly your relationship with the person of record) in order to prevent fraud, preserve the integrity of the record and protect identities. Search record applications for birth and death certificates are available in English and Spanish.
What information is needed to request a vital record?
Some records, such as birth and death certificates, are restricted access in New Mexico. This means that state law restricts access to the registrant’s immediate family members or those who represent tangible proof of legal interest in the requested record. You can find a list of acceptable documents for obtaining a birth or death certificate on the New Mexico Department of Health’s website. VitalChek uses an identity verification document.
Where can a person find New Mexico vital records?
- Resource: New Mexico Vital Records VitalChek
The New Mexico Department of Health uses VitalChek, an authorized expediting service, to fulfill online and phone orders for vital records. Customers can order birth records and death records through the website or by calling 877-284-0963. It’s also possible to order birth from a local public health office in person, but it’s recommended that you call first due to limited days and hours. Death certificates must be ordered through the Santa Fe office.
To order marriage licenses, you’ll need to contact the county clerk of the county where the marriage license was issued. Divorce decrees are available from the district court where the court order was filed.
Frequently asked questions about New Mexico records
Of all the states where you might seek public records, New Mexico provides some of the best access to anyone. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions from those seeking public records in the state:
Can a request be submitted by non-residents of the state?
Yes. There is no requirement of citizenship to place a public records request.
Is there a records custodian in New Mexico?
Organizations must assign someone to serve as the records custodian.
What exemptions exist?
There are some exemptions to the New Mexico IPRA. You can find them in the New Mexico IPRA Compliance Guide.
How long does that state have to respond?
Generally, records custodians are required to give an estimated time of completion if they think the request will surpass 15 business days.
Is there an appeals process?
No, but you can submit a complaint to the New Mexico Attorney General via an Electronic Complaint Submission (ECS) application.
What fees are associated with requesting public records?
There aren’t any search fees for a public records search in New Mexico, but agencies may charge fees for the actual cost of copying records.