Waiting on results from your background check in New Mexico can be nerve-racking. However, with this guide below, you’ll be able to get all the answers to your questions about New Mexico background checks and understand the process better.
New Mexico Background Check Laws
In June of 2019, New Mexico businesses saw a ton of changes made in employment laws. These had a significant impact on what employers could ask employment candidate’s about their criminal history.
This also includes public sector employers who decline to employ an applicant based solely or in part on their criminal history. That employer must provide in writing any reasons that led to their decision about obtaining a license or job position.
However, an employer can only inquire about a candidate’s criminal background during the interview process and not ask about it on any initial employment application. This falls directly under the state’s ban the box law.
New Mexico Ban the Box Law
Many states nationwide are beginning to see the ‘ban the box’ laws come into effect, including New Mexico. This has been an ongoing attempt to help applicants who might have a criminal background seek employment.
Before the ‘ban the box’ movement took place, many employers used a pre-screening method that included a ‘check the box’ section on an application to see if you had ever been convicted of a crime.
However, once the bipartisan ‘Criminal Offender Employment Act’ was signed by New Mexico’s Governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham, in 2019 prohibiting private employers from questioning applicants about their criminal history, the state strictly follows the ‘ban the box’ law.
Employers in New Mexico must now wait until the interview process before inquiring about an applicant’s arrest or conviction history. But, the legislation doesn’t restrict any business from performing background checks on all applicants.
New Mexico government employees have been prohibited from asking any questions about criminal history on job applications since 2010, and for private businesses, this law went into effect in 2019.
In New Mexico, a credit reporting agency (CRA) is not allowed to report any bankruptcy details that are over 14 years old, as well as any other information that is over seven years old.
They also are not permitted to disclose an applicant’s record of indictments or arrests that were granted a full pardon or did not lead to any convictions.
Criminal Record Expungement Law in New Mexico
The lawmakers in New Mexico approved legislation in 2019 that also forbids any employer from questioning applicants about their criminal record history that have been expunged or sealed.
This law falls under the Criminal Record Expungement Act and allows people to have certain convictions or arrest records expunged via a successful court petition.
However, there is a list of offenses that are not eligible for an expungement, and these include:
- Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
- Crimes Against Children
- Sex Crimes
Another exception where conviction or arrest records must be disclosed is when the applicant’s employment application is with any financial institution regulated by the exchange and securities commission or the financial industry regulatory authority.
This law governs court officials, and when any sealed or expunged inquiries are presented to the court, they have a legal obligation to respond, stating ‘no such records exist.’
How to Get a Background Check in New Mexico
Most official background checks are used for employment screening, securing a financial loan, or tenancy. The business associated with the application process will typically initiate the background check.
Official background checks are processed by the New Mexico Department of Public Safety and will include any criminal records that were retained by law enforcement.
There are plenty of third-party websites that offer background checks for a fee, and that fee can vary based on the searches being performed. However, in many instances, individuals can get the same results by simply doing the investigative work themselves.
Anyone can use public access to obtain an unofficial background check in New Mexico. This includes typically viewing court records and other documents made available to the public. You’ll be able to find out the following details about any New Mexico resident, including:
- Romantic Interests
These types of records should be able to give you insight into what kind of person you are dealing with. They can also prevent you from making the wrong move when finances are involved.
The Department of Public Safety is considered to be the repository for all criminal history in New Mexico. This is where all the police records involving arrests, juveniles, and other criminal records are retained.
The New Mexico Judiciary Branch retains all court records. Most current cases are available onsite and can be viewed in person at the relevant court. If the case is older, it can be obtained by mail or in-person after being requested. These are kept offsite and need to be retrieved when asked for.
New Mexico’s Inspection of Public Records Act
The New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act has been established to protect all New Mexico residents’ rights. This includes accessing and virtually inspecting all official documents that a government agency created within the state.
These typically include crime statistics, meeting minutes, text messages, planning reports, and emails sent using official government equipment.
Since New Mexico is a ban-the-box state, it does require all employers to interview a candidate prior to asking about their criminal history. Although employers are not prevented from using any of the background checks results in making employment decisions.
However, federal laws established by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission must be adhered to when making employment decisions.
What is the New Mexico Applicant Fingerprint Processing (NMAPS)?
NMAPS provides New Mexico residents an applicant background check for fingerprints that is both a fast and reliable solution and is entirely electronic. All legally required federal and state background checks can be conducted using this system.
However, an employer can still choose to do manual fingerprinting and send applicants to the NMDPS Headquarters to get the check done.
What Can Show Up on a New Mexico Background Check?
Most employers conduct background checks to verify the applicant’s details. This is done to protect the employer from hiring somebody who could later cause an issue.
If a potential employee is hired to do accounting, then the employer will typically want to verify the applicant’s education in association with the position being considered for employment.
The following items generally show up on a background check in New Mexico; however, it will ultimately depend on the employer’s requested searches from the reporting agency.
- Personal Details (name, phone, address, email, etc.)
- Past Employment Information
- Verification of Education
- Credit History, including Bankruptcies
- Driving Records
- Criminal History
Depending on the position being applied for, an employer might request all of the above details or just the ones that fit the potential job requirements in question.
Suppose an employer is hiring for a position that requires the usage of company vehicles. In that case, a thorough background check into an applicant’s driving records is considered mandatory by many insurance companies.
What is Reported on New Mexico’s DPS Background Check?
The New Mexico Department of Public Safety (DPS) will search through the criminal history repository for criminal history within any New Mexico county that regularly reports its data to the DPS database.
The following items can show up on a New Mexico DPS background check:
- Recorded Location of Jurisdiction Record
- Defendant Personal Details
- Case Number Assigned
- Type or Degree of Offense (Misdemeanor, Felony, Etc.)
- Filing Date
- Date of Disposition
- Sentence Details
How Far Back do Background Checks Go in New Mexico?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) has established limits in place for certain information obtained on background checks in New Mexico. This falls under the New Mexico Statute Section 56-3-6.
The following restrictions are currently in place:
- Bankruptcies – No longer than 14 years
- Collection Accounts – No longer than seven years
- Arrest and Convictions – No longer than seven years
However, many employers generally run a background check that goes back between five to ten years. It is up to the individual employer as to how far back they want the background check to go.
Keep in mind that background checks involving positions for managers or key holders can go back as far as the applicant’s 18th birthday.
How Long Does a Background Check Take in New Mexico?
Depending on the type of background check initiated, an employer or individual can determine the amount of time it takes to get results. If a simple background check is conducted, then the results are typically available in two to three days.
More extensive background checks can take anywhere from five to ten business days, depending on the length of the applicant’s history.
If a fingerprint check was performed and submitted to the DPS electronically, the agency used typically receives a response from DPS within 24 to 48 hours. The FBI results generally take a little longer and should be made available within 48 to 72 hours.
Why Do Employers Run Background Checks in New Mexico?
Most employers run background checks on potential employees to confirm an applicant’s details that they provided on their application. This includes verifying past job experiences and education that is relevant to the position being offered.
Employers also want to make sure they are not putting their business at risk by hiring somebody that poses a potential threat to the operation. This includes checking an applicant’s criminal history.
Suppose the position being applied for involves handling the company’s finances or is a management position. In that case, a background check is necessary to confirm that the applicant is responsible and trustworthy.
Any business that works with the general public, senior citizens, children, or in the healthcare sector typically will perform an extensive background check on all potential employees. This is standard practice and helps an employer protect its assets and staff members.
Can You Get a Free Background Check in New Mexico?
You can obtain access to public records, which will provide you with some documents that are related to the individual’s background that was searched. However, these are not considered part of an official background check and may not include all the details desired.
Public records are free to view; however, there can be administrative fees associated with pulling or printing any documents, which will vary per jurisdiction.
An official background check in New Mexico is processed through the New Mexico Department of Public Safety and is not free. These official background checks consist of name-based searches and fingerprinting checks.
The costs for an official background check in New Mexico are as follows:
- Official Background Check – $15.00
- Fingerprint Cards – $9.00
Note: These can be done at any local law enforcement agency in New Mexico.
How Long Does a Background Check Take for a Gun in New Mexico?
New Mexico has some of the least restrictive firearms laws in the entire country and is not a point of contact state for NICS. Unlike federal law, New Mexico does not actually require any firearms dealers to initiate a background check before selling a firearm to a customer that came from their own inventory.
Federal law requires all federally licensed firearms dealers to initiate a background check on any purchaser before the firearm’s actual sale. This involves having the background check performed by the FBI using only the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) database.
The FBI has three business days to determine whether or not the buyer can indeed obtain a firearm in New Mexico. If the FBI does not conclude any details to prevent such a sale or fails to respond within the three business days, then on the fourth business day, the transfer can take place.
However, a new background check law was enacted in 2019, requiring an unlicensed seller of a firearm to make arrangements with a federally licensed dealer to conduct a background check on their buyer before selling them the firearm.
This also prohibits any dealers from ‘unreasonably’ refusing to perform the requested background check for a specified fee.
Individual property owners can post signage or even verbally notify a person upon entry that they prohibit any person carrying a firearm onto the property they lawfully own.
Any individual that violates these ‘gun-free’ properties can be charged with a full misdemeanor. This is punishable with a fine of up to $1,000 and up to one year in the county jail. (Criminal Trespass – NMSA 30-14-1).
Note: All firearm transfers by licensed dealers in New Mexico are processed directly through the FBI.