Elephant Butte Municipal Court – Elephant Butte, NM

Oct 26, 2021

A municipal court is a court with small area of authority over criminal charges and civil matters within its area. These courts can be found at the county or city level.

Elephant Butte Municipal Court INformation

Court: Elephant Butte Municipal Court
Address: “103 Water Avenue, PO Box 398, Elephant Butte, NM 87935”
Phone: 575-744-4892

City: Elephant Butte
County: Sierra
State: New Mexico

What is the purpose of the Elephant Butte Municipal Court?

Municipal Courts are commonly called “courts of limited jurisdiction.” Which means that they handle minor crimes, civil disputes, and traffic violations. Courthouses like Elephant Butte Municipal Court are the first level of court for these types of cases.

On the other hand, the purpose of a county court is to deal with a large number of civil disputes within the respective region. Most cases involve family law matters, injury cases, more serious criminal charges, or lawsuits.

County courts have the jurisdiction to deal with misdemeanors and civil matters that can’t exceed the amount of $15k, while the circuits courts handle felonies and more expansive civil cases.

TYPES OF CASES HEARD IN A MUNICIPAL COURT in Elephant Butte, New Mexico

Municipal courts are the lowest level of courthouses in the United States. They are usually found within the jurisdiction where they are located, but some places share municipal courts with other municipalities.

This can be done to better serve their people or to save money on expenditures. The matters that may be heard by a municipal court vary depending on the municipality, but typically include traffic tickets, low level criminal charges and code infractions.

There is no set definition for what constitutes a misdemeanor crime versus a felony case, but generally speaking felonies would require more time in jail than misdemeanor charges and fines may also be higher for felonies. Traffic violations usually result in points against your driver’s license as well

What’s the process for cases in the municipal court in Elephant Butte?

Municipal courts are the lowest level of the court system in the United States. They have jurisdiction over minor crimes, traffic crimes, and other civil matters. Municipal courts are popularly known city courts or town courts. Cases are handled by a magistrate who is usually a lawyer, judge, or retired judge. Magistrates may be appointed by the mayor or city council members to assist for a specific time period.

Magistrates preside over hearings to determine:

  • Probable cause for an arrest
  • Set bail amounts and the conditions of release
  • Conduct arraignment hearings when charges are filed against individuals by police officers
  • Issue search warrants to law enforcement officers in order to secure evidence from crime scenes
  • Conduct preliminary inquiries to establish if there is enough evidence to mount a charge

The usual process of a Municipal Court matter

The common process of a municipal courthouse case can be difficult to navigate. The following material is an overview of the steps involved in a typical municipal court case.

First Step: An Issuance of Summons

A summons is sent when someone has been charged with violating a local rule or state law. The citizen who has received the summons will need to appear at their assigned time and courthouse, which is usually the municipal courtroom, to answer for the charge(s) against them. If they don’t show up, they may be found guilty in absentia and could be fined up to $1000 or given a jail sentence if it’s a serious enough offense.

Second Step: Show Up before Judge or Magistrate

If someone fails to show up after being summoned by the judge, there may be a warrant issued for the person. 

Municipal Court Penalties in Elephant Butte, NM

Penalties change often, which is why it’s good to speak with licensed attorney near you. The information below represents common penalties, but may not be 100% accurate for the Elephant Butte Municipal Court. 

A violation is a crime that carries a penalty of $500 or less, while a misdemeanor charge can have penalties up to $1000 or one year in jail. A person’s driving privileges may be suspended for six months if they receive three speeding tickets within 12 months.

The penalties for different offenses in municipal courthouses vary depending on the severity of an offenses. For example, if you are caught with marijuana without having a prescription for it then you could be fined up to $2,000 or spend up to six months in jail.

Elephant Butte Municipal Court Records

Municipal Court records from a municipal court may be difficult to find because they are not always stored in one place or system. The records that a person might need to depend on the type of case they have in front of the court, where it’s at in the process, and what type of information is required by law to be present.

Common Questions ABOUT the Elephant Butte Municipal Court

What is municipal court in Elephant Butte, New Mexico?

In New Mexico, the municipal court is a lower level with civil and criminal matters within a town or municipality. Municipal courts will have a small area of influence and have limited authority as well, dealing only with petty crimes and misdemeanor crimes.

What does the municipal court handle in Elephant Butte, New Mexico?

Depending on the size of the municipality, a municipal court can handle a civil division (cases with less than  $15,000 at issue), a traffic/criminal division, or a housing and environmental division. Serious cases/crimes are deal with by higher authorities.

How many judges does the Elephant Butte Municipal Court have?

The number of judges depends on the municipality’s population.

How are cases heard in municipal courts in New Mexico?

A municipal courthouse judge may be either elected or appointed to serve for a set term of years or until retirement. Judges are sometimes elected by the people with each precinct’s results judged based on the number of people. Municipal judges are often not lawyers but have some legal training and must finish multiple hours of ongoing education every period to maintain their licenses.