HOUSE BILL 619
54th legislature - STATE OF NEW MEXICO - first session, 2019
Dayan Hochman-Vigil and Georgene Louis and Doreen Y. Gallegos
RELATING TO CHILD ABUSE; LIMITING THE LIABILITY OF ANY PERSON REPORTING CHILD ABUSE.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO:
SECTION 1. Section 32A-4-5 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 1993, Chapter 77, Section 99, as amended) is amended to read:
"32A-4-5. ADMISSIBILITY OF REPORT IN EVIDENCE--IMMUNITY OF REPORTING PERSON--INVESTIGATION OF REPORT.--
A. In any proceeding alleging neglect or abuse under the Children's Code resulting from a report required by Section 32A-4-3 NMSA 1978 or in any proceeding in which that report or any of its contents are sought to be introduced in evidence, the report or its contents or any other facts related thereto or to the condition of the child who is the subject of the report shall not be excluded on the ground that the matter is or may be the subject of a physician-patient privilege or similar privilege or rule against disclosure.
B. Anyone reporting an instance of alleged child neglect or abuse committed by any adult or participating in [a] any judicial proceeding [brought as a result of a report required by Section 32A-4-3 NMSA 1978 is presumed to be acting in good faith and] shall be immune from liability, civil or criminal, that might otherwise be incurred or imposed by the law [unless] if the person acted [in bad faith or] with reasonable care and without malicious purpose.
C. After properly verifying the identity of the public official, any school personnel or other person who has the duty to report child abuse pursuant to Section 32A-4-3 NMSA 1978 shall permit a member of a law enforcement agency, including tribal police officers, an employee of the district attorney's office, an investigative interviewer for a program described in Subsection E of this section or an employee of the department, to interview a child with respect to a report without the permission of the child's parent or guardian. Any person permitting an interview pursuant to this subsection is presumed to be acting in good faith and shall be immune from liability, civil or criminal, that might otherwise be incurred or imposed by law, unless the person acted in bad faith or with malicious purpose.
D. An investigation may be conducted by law enforcement, the district attorney's office, a program described in Subsection E of this section and the department. Interviews shall be conducted in a manner and place that protects the child and family from unnecessary trauma and embarrassment. The investigating entity shall conduct the investigation in a manner that will protect the privacy of the child and the family, with the paramount consideration being the safety of the child. All interactions with child victims and child witnesses shall be conducted in a child-sensitive manner, taking into consideration the special needs of the child and the child's abilities, age and intellectual maturity. The interviews shall be conducted in a place where the child feels secure and in a language that the child uses and understands.
E. If a community has a program for child abuse investigation that includes an investigation interview of the alleged victim or child witness, the investigation may be conducted at a site designated by the community program. The child abuse victim or child witness shall, when possible, be interviewed in an environment where the alleged abuse perpetrator will not be present.
F. Prior to interviewing a child, the department shall notify the parent or guardian of the child who is being interviewed, unless the department determines that notification would adversely affect the safety of the child about whom the report has been made or compromise the investigation."
SECTION 2. EFFECTIVE DATE.--The effective date of the provisions of this act is July 1, 2019.
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