New Mexico's Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA) allows the general public access to most government records. According to the Attorney General's Office, "Each state agency and local governmental entities have designated a records custodian to whom requests to inspect records should be addressed." Every person has the right to request records per the IPRA, and each government agency can charge fees to anyone seeking records. You can also request records directly from the Attorney General, but in many cases, you will have to contact the actual agency you need them from. You can request records verbally or in writing. The preferred method is in writing. Per the IPRA, "all persons are entitled to the greatest possible information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts of public officers and employees." NMSA 14-2-5.
New Mexico courts, the Attorney General's Office, the Mayor, local government offices, law enforcement, the Secretary of State, legal personnel, and other government offices and agencies all create public records during the normal course of business. Some individuals also create them when they file a lawsuit, get divorced, or purchase a piece of land. Each agency is called a "custodian," and they store and maintain their own files. Some agencies share public records between them.
"The Inspection of Public Records Act is intended to provide the public with access to information governmental affairs. The law requires public access to virtually all public records with a few exceptions most records are available for public inspection."
New Mexico law defines "public records" as "all documents, papers, letters, books, maps, tapes, photographs, recordings, and other materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, that are used, created, received, maintained or held by or on behalf of any public body and relate to public business, whether or not the records are required by law to be created or maintained."
The New Mexico Commission of Public Records, State Records Center and Archives is the government agency in charge of historical public records for the state. Their mission reads, "The State Records Center and Archives preserves, protects, and facilitates access to public records that are held in trust for the people of New Mexico." Along with vital records for genealogy research, they also maintain government publications, historical laws, research resources, historical information about the state, and a lot more. You can visit them in person or browse their online collections.
New Mexico's Foundation for Open Governmentguides users on how to request public records. They mention that you can request records verbally; however, if you are denied, there is no legal resource. If you want to provide a proper paper trail in case something goes wrong with your request, you must apply in writing.
If you are denied access to public records, contact the Attorney General's Office to help you appeal the decision.
The New Mexico Department of Public Safety is the agency in charge of criminal records for the state of New Mexico. They provide the public with background checks upon request. When requesting criminal records, you must first get a copy of the Department of Public Safety (DPS) release form and pay the $15 fee. They also provide a "Police Certificate of Good Standing" for $33. Most criminal background reports are handled via electronic or manual fingerprints, and they take 7-15 days for the results to come in.
Some common types of criminal records in New Mexico include (but are not limited to):
The New Mexico Courts, Judicial Branch of New Mexico is the entity in charge of all Court records in New Mexico. They collect, create, store, and maintain all court records. Per the Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA), any person can request and review most all court records. They allow you to request records online through an interactive form, in writing, or in person at the courthouse where the records are located. They provide a full list of all the courts in New Mexico so you can easily find the location you need.
Some types of court records in New Mexico include:
The New Mexico court system consists of five levels beginning with the Supreme Court, then the Court of Appeals, District Court, Magistrate Court and Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court, and then Municipal and Probate Court.
The local police create New Mexico arrest records, and you can request copies of them directly from each precinct. However, you can also contact the New Mexico Department of Public Safety for records. It might take longer as they do process background checks, but it can take up to two weeks to get results.
Some different types of arrests records in New Mexico are:
The New Mexico Department of Health has a specific New Mexico Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics Website, and they handle all vital records for the state. This office has both birth and death certificates for sale if you need a certified copy to prove your identity. They use the VitalChek system for online and phone orders, but you can also visit them in person to obtain copies. Many local Public Health Offices (PHO) can also supply you with birth and death certificates.
Along with criminal, court, arrest, and vital records, other types of public records you can find in the state of New Mexico include, but are not limited to:
In New Mexico, not all records are public records. The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government lists some things in their FAQs that are not publicly accessible or may be redacted from public records. The list includes: