MAGISTRATE AND DISTRICT COURT INFORMATION
Outside of Bernalillo County, New Mexico DWI cases are usually tried in Magistrate or District Courts. (DWI Cases charged under city codes rather than state statutes are tried in Municipal Courts)
Magistrate and Municipal Courts
Unlike District and Metropolitan Courts, Magistrate and Municipal Judges in New Mexico are not required to have a law degree. Because of this, if you are charged with DWI or DUI in a Magistrate or Municipal Court in New Mexico, you have certain benefits that do not exist in the Albuquerque Metro Court or any of the State District Courts.
Most Importantly, even if this is your first DWI, in a New Mexico Magistrate Court, you have the right to a Jury Trial. This right is not automatic, you must make a written or oral demand for the Jury Trial within ten days of your arraignment, but a Jury Trial can make the difference between a conviction and an acquittal. Consult with a lawyer quickly to decide if a jury trial is in your best interest. (Unfortunately, there are no jury trials in New Mexico Municipal Courts)
Appeal and Trial de Novo
Another advantage of being charged in a Magistrate or Municipal court is your right to a trial de novo. An appeal from a Magistrate or Municipal Court Conviction is filled in the State District Court, where you will have the right to a trial de novo: a new trial, as if the first trial had not occurred! These appeals are something important to consider, and your attorney can advise you on the advantages of an appeal and trial de novo.
Appeals from Bernalillo County Metro Court or any of the New Mexico State District Courts are known as record appeals and are a judicial review of the trial record for legal errors. These record appeals are much different from and much harder to win than a trial de novo.
While it is unusual for a DWI or DUI case in New Mexico to be tried in a State District Court, it does happen. Felony DWI cases and DWI that involved other felony charges, most often child abuse for allegations of having a child in a car operated by a drunk driver, are tried in District Court as Magistrate, Municipal and Metro Court do not have the Jurisdiction or power to handle felony trials. If you are charged with a DWI in District Court, this is serious business. While all DWI's have serious consequences , if your case has found its way to a District Courthouse, you need competent, qualified and excellent legal representation right away.
District and Magistrate Court Case Lookup
Using the link below you can look up your New Mexico District and Magistrate Court Cases:
Albuquerque Metro Court Case Lookup
If you are charged with DWI or DUI in Albuquerque Metro Court you can use the following link to look up you case: