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Finding Court Records in New Mexico

New Mexico Courts Overview

It helps to understand how the New Mexico state court system works when you’re trying to find court records. The New Mexico trial court system consists of District Courts, Metropolitan Courts, Magistrate Courts, Probate Courts, and Municipal Courts.

District Courts have general jurisdiction over all types of civil and criminal cases, but generally only handle cases that are beyond the jurisdiction of other courts. Metropolitan Courts, Magistrate Courts, Probate Courts, and Municipal Courts have limited jurisdiction over certain types of cases.

If you prefer, you can start your search by going to New Mexico courts by county.

New Mexico District Courts

District Courts have general jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases, but usually only handle cases that are beyond the jurisdiction of other courts.

Criminal cases heard by District Courts include felonies and lesser-included offenses, some misdemeanors, and preliminary hearings for all types of criminal cases.

Civil cases heard by District Courts include general civil claims with disputes for more than $10,000, exclusive of interest and costs. District Courts also handle domestic relations, domestic violence, juvenile delinquency, child protection, mental health, administrative agency appeals, disputes over the title or boundary to real estate, naturalization, guardianship, conservatorship, trusts, and formal probate proceedings.

Each District Court has a Children's Court division that handle certain types of juvenile cases, including juvenile delinquency, child neglect, child abuse, adoption, and the emancipation of minors. The Children's Court division also has authority to enforce certain Tribal Court orders.

District Courts share original jurisdiction with Probate Courts over all informal probate matters, including the informal appointment of a personal representative and cases where there is no dispute whether a decedent left a valid will. District Courts handle all formal probate cases.

District Courts share jurisdiction over most misdemeanor criminal cases with Magistrate Courts and Metropolitan Courts, as well as Probate Courts if a Probate Court has jurisdiction over misdemeanor criminal cases.

District Courts share jurisdiction over preliminary hearings for all criminal cases with Metropolitan Court and Magistrate Court, as well as Probate Courts if a Probate Court has criminal jurisdiction.

If the competency of a defendant is raised in a criminal case in a Magistrate Court or Probate Court, the case is transferred to District Court. If a Metropolitan Court finds a defendant incompetent to stand trial, the case is transferred to District Court.

New Mexico Metropolitan Courts

Counties of a certain size are required to establish a Metropolitan Court with limited jurisdiction over certain types of civil and criminal cases.

Metropolitan Courts have jurisdiction similar to Magistrate Courts, with some additional jurisdiction over certain types of cases.

Criminal cases heard by Metropolitan Courts include misdemeanors, DWI/DUI, traffic violations, most violations of county and municipal ordinances, and preliminary hearings for all types of criminal cases.

Civil cases heard by Metropolitan Courts include most general civil claims for less than $10,000, exclusive of interest and costs, including landlord-tenant disputes, contracts, quasi-contracts, and torts.

Metropolitan Courts do not have jurisdiction over certain types of cases, including domestic relations, certain types of civil cases, guardianships, most requests for injunctive relief, and disputes over the title or boundary of real estate.

Metropolitan Courts share jurisdiction over preliminary hearings and most misdemeanor criminal cases with District Courts. If a Metropolitan Court finds a defendant incompetent to stand trial, the case is transferred to District Court.

A Metropolitan Court may have jurisdiction over contested cases involving violations of parking or vehicle operation rules for state educational institutions under certain circumstances.

New Mexico Magistrate Courts

Magistrate Courts have limited jurisdiction over certain types of civil and criminal cases.

Criminal cases heard by Magistrate Courts include preliminary hearings for all types of criminal cases, most misdemeanors, petty misdemeanors, and county ordinance violations. Magistrate Courts may handle municipal ordinance violations under some circumstances.

Civil cases heard by Magistrate Courts include most general civil claims for less than $10,000, exclusive of interests and costs.

Magistrate Courts do not have jurisdiction to handle certain types of cases, including malicious prosecution, libel, slander, specific performance of contracts for the sale of real property, land titles or boundaries, domestic relations, guardianships, adoption, dependency, and most requests for injunctive relief.

Magistrate Courts share jurisdiction over most misdemeanor criminal cases with District Courts. If the competency of a defendant is raised in a criminal case in Magistrate Court, the case is transferred to District Court.

New Mexico Probate Courts

Probate Courts have limited jurisdiction over informal probate and informal estate matters. Contested probate and estate matters are heard by District Courts.

Probate Courts share original jurisdiction with District Courts over all informal probate matters, including the informal appointment of a personal representative and cases where there is no dispute whether a decedent left a valid will.

Probate Court have jurisdiction to determine heirship of real property in the informal administration of estates. Probate Courts may have additional jurisdiction to determine heirship of real property in other types of probate cases under some circumstances.

Probate Courts may have jurisdiction over contested civil cases under some circumstances. If civil jurisdiction exists, claims must be within financial limits and jurisdiction is limited to certain types of cases.

Probate Courts do not handle several types of cases, including malicious prosecution, slander, libel, misconduct in office, specific performance of contracts for the sale of real estate, possession of land, most disputes involving the title or boundary to real property, and requests for injunctive relief.

Probate Courts may exercise some jurisdiction over certain types of criminal cases. Under certain circumstances, Probate Courts share jurisdiction with District Courts, Metropolitan Courts, and Magistrate Courts for preliminary hearings in all criminal cases and trials for misdemeanors punishable only by certain amounts of fines.

New Mexico Municipal Courts

Municipal Courts have limited jurisdiction over all violations of municipal ordinances, including driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs.

Municipal Courts do not offer jury trials, and cases with a right to a jury trial will be transferred to another court if a proper request is made.

A Municipal Court may handle contested cases involving violations of campus traffic regulations.

A municipality with a population of 1500 or less may confer jurisdiction over its ordinances to its county's Magistrate Court.

New Mexico Problem-Solving Courts

Many New Mexico courts have "problem-solving court" programs that provide treatment and social services in lieu of incarceration for some non-violent offenders with substance abuse or mental health problems. Types of programs include Adult and Juvenile Drug Courts, Family Dependency Courts, DWI Courts, and Mental Health Treatment Courts.

New Mexico Tribal Courts

In addition to the state trial court system, New Mexico has an independent Tribal Court system and a Tribal-State Judicial Consortium to share information and manage programs.

Where to Find Court Cases in New Mexico

The chart below gives general information on the types of cases heard in each type of New Mexico court.

Most Cases = Most or all cases.     Some Cases = Some cases.

Case Type Court Type
Civil District Courts Metropolitan Courts Magistrate Courts Probate Courts Municipal Courts
General Civil - Unlimited Most or All Cases        
General Civil - Limited Some Cases Most or All Cases Most or All Cases Some Cases  
Small Claims   Most or All Cases Most or All Cases Some Cases  
Civil Equity Most or All Cases        
Complex Commercial Most or All Cases        
Foreclosures and Liens Some Cases Some Cases Some Cases    
Real Estate Title and Boundary Most or All Cases     Some Cases  
Landlord / Tenant   Some Cases Some Cases    
Ordinance Violations   Some Cases Some Cases   Some Cases
Protection, No Contact, and Restraining Orders Most or All Cases        
Administrative Agency Appeals Most or All Cases        
Criminal District Courts Metropolitan Courts Magistrate Courts Probate Courts Municipal Courts
Felony Most or All Cases        
Felony Preliminary Hearings Most or All Cases Most or All Cases Most or All Cases Some Cases  
Misdemeanors Some Cases Most or All Cases Most or All Cases Some Cases  
Ordinance Violations   Most or All Cases Most or All Cases Some Cases Most or All Cases
Juvenile Most or All Cases        
Traffic and Infractions   Some Cases Some Cases   Some Cases
Domestic Relations District Courts Metropolitan Courts Magistrate Courts Probate Courts Municipal Courts
Divorce Most or All Cases        
Child Custody and Visitation Most or All Cases        
Child Support Most or All Cases        
Paternity Most or All Cases        
Domestic Violence Protection Order Most or All Cases        
Juvenile District Courts Metropolitan Courts Magistrate Courts Probate Courts Municipal Courts
Adoptions Most or All Cases        
Juvenile Delinquency Most or All Cases        
Child Abuse and Neglect Most or All Cases        
Termination of Parental Rights Most or All Cases        
Children in Need of Supervision Most or All Cases        
Mental Health District Courts Metropolitan Courts Magistrate Courts Probate Courts Municipal Courts
Involuntary Commitments Most or All Cases        
Other Mental Health Cases Most or All Cases Some Cases      
Probate District Courts Metropolitan Courts Magistrate Courts Probate Courts Municipal Courts
Wills & Estates Some Cases     Some Cases  
Name Changes Most or All Cases        
Trusts Most or All Cases        
Guardianships and Conservatorships Most or All Cases        

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