Rio Rancho Municipal Court – Rio Rancho, NM

Oct 26, 2021

A municipal court is a court with small jurisdiction over criminal offenses and civil matters inside its area. These courts can be located at the county or city level.

Rio Rancho Municipal Court INformation

Court: Rio Rancho Municipal Court
Address: “500 Quantum Road, PO Box 15190, Rio Rancho, NM 87174”
Phone: 505-891-5999

City: Rio Rancho
County: Sandoval
State: New Mexico

What is the role of the Rio Rancho Municipal Court?

Municipal Courts are routinely called “courts of limited jurisdiction.” Which means that they work with minor criminal charges, civil cases, and traffic matters. Courts like Rio Rancho Municipal Court are the first level of court for this group of matters.

In other situations, the role of a county court is to deal with a large number of civil disputes within the respective region. Most cases involve family matters, personal injury cases, more serious criminal infractions, or breaches of contract.

County courts have the jurisdiction to deal with misdemeanors and civil actions that can’t exceed the amount of $15,000.00, while the circuits courts handle felony cases and larger civil matters.

TYPES OF CASES seen IN A MUNICIPAL COURT in Rio Rancho, New Mexico

Municipal courts are the lowest level of courts in the U.S.. 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 assist their citizens or to save money on expenditures. The cases that will be heard by a municipal court depend on the municipality, but typically include traffic crimes, low level criminal charges and code violations.

You will not find a standard for what establishes a misdemeanor versus a felony charge, 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 Rio Rancho?

Municipal courts are the first level of the court system in the United States. They have jurisdiction over minor crimes, traffic crimes, and other civil matters. Municipal courts are have often been called city courts or town courts. Matters are managed by a magistrate who is usually an attorney, judge, or retired judge. Magistrates may be appointed by the mayor or city council board to help for a specific time.

Judges administer hearings to determine:

  • Probable cause for an arrest
  • Set bail amounts and terms of release
  • Conduct arraignment hearings when charges are filed against defendants by police officers
  • Issue search warrants to police officers in order to seize evidence from crime scenes
  • start preliminary examinations to understand if there is enough evidence to charge

The common process of a Municipal Court matter

The process of a municipal courthouse case can be complicated. The next portion is an overview of the common items involved in a typical municipal court matter.

First Step: An Issuance of Summons

A summons is sent when a person has been charged with violating a town ordinance or state law. The individual who has received the summons will need to show up at their assigned time and location, 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 anyways and could be fined up to $1000 or sentenced to jail time if it’s a serious enough offense.

Step Two: 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 individual. 

Municipal Court Penalties in Rio Rancho, NM

Penalties change often, which is why it’s good to speak with licensed lawyer. The material below represents common penalties, but may not be 100% accurate for the Rio Rancho Municipal Court. 

A violation is a crime that has a penalty of $500 or less, while a misdemeanor crime can carry penalties up to $1,000.00 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 charges in municipal courthouses vary depending on the severity of an offenses. For example, if you are caught with marijuana without having a medical prescription for it then you will be fined up to $2,000 or spend up to six months in jail.

Rio Rancho Municipal Court Records

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

FAQs ABOUT the Rio Rancho Municipal Court

What is municipal court in Rio Rancho, New Mexico?

In New Mexico, the municipal court is a lower court with civil and criminal jurisdiction within a city or municipality. Municipal courts have a small jurisdiction and have limited authority as well, dealing only with petty crimes and misdemeanors.

What does the municipal court handle in Rio Rancho, New Mexico?

Depending on the scope 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 Rio Rancho Municipal Court have?

The count of judges depends on the municipality’s size.

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 duration or until retirement. Judges are commonly elected by precincts with each precinct’s results evaluated according to population. Municipal magistrates are often not attorneys but have some legal education and must finish multiple hours of continuing courses every year to maintain their licenses.