Why You Need to Hire An Expungement Attorney
Is your criminal history keeping you from getting a good job, furthering your education, earning an occupational license, obtaining security clearance, or keeping you from living where you want to live? If so, you should consider hiring an expungement attorney to help you clear your name. You may get a new lease on life if you expunge part or all of your criminal record.
What Is Expungement?
New Mexico Statutes Annotated § 29-3A-1 to 9 is the state’s expungement statute. The law defines expungement as removing public access to a notation about an arrest, criminal complaint, indictment, information, guilty plea, conviction, acquittal, dismissal, or discharge. An expungement order not only removes these items from public access in the courts but also removes law enforcement records from public inspection.
If the court grants an expungement, a criminal background check will not reveal an arrest record or any information relating to the expunged criminal charge. The law states that proceedings subject to an expungement order should be treated as though they never happened.
Therefore, if the court expunged the arrest from your criminal background, you can truthfully tell an employer that you have no arrest record even though you’ve been arrested. But there is a limitation to that rule. Anyone who applies for a job with a financial institution regulated by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) or the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) must reveal prior arrests and court activity—even if the court entered an expungement order.
What Is an Expungement Attorney?
New Mexico’s expungement law is complex. Therefore, an expungement attorney is a criminal defense lawyer who understands how New Mexico’s expungement procedure works.
Most lawyers do not handle expungement proceedings exclusively. However, a lawyer with extensive experience handling expungement petitions and related matters may be the best option.
How to Choose a Good Expungement Attorney
You should resist the urge to represent yourself if you are trying to get an expungement.
Acting as your own attorney is dangerous and stressful. If you represent yourself, you must learn New Mexico’s expungement laws, timely file the appropriate paperwork in court, and supply the necessary information to support your request. Then, you may have to go to court and argue to the judge why the court should order your record expunged.
The problem with representing yourself is that you likely have not been trained in criminal law. Without training, it is difficult to know what has to be filed and when, what evidence is the most compelling, and what arguments tend to work when presenting your case to a judge. And if you make mistakes, you might not get a second chance.
Working with an expungement attorney means you have an advocate—in and out of the courtroom. Your attorney can speak for you, and they are trained to make the most effective and persuasive arguments on your behalf. You don’t have to worry about knowing legalese, rebutting the prosecutor’s objection to your expungement motion, or intimidating judges.
Choosing the Right Lawyer
What attorney is best for an expungement? Choosing the right attorney can make a difference for you and your future. So how should you choose one?
As stated, criminal defense lawyers typically handle expungements, so that’s a good place to start. Beyond that, you want someone who has a great track record in criminal cases and expungements.
You also want a local attorney who knows the local judges, prosecutors, and criminal court system. Local attorneys with a sterling reputation, like our lawyers with New Mexico Criminal Law Offices, know the local courts and allow you to benefit from their hard-earned reputation. We will listen to your concerns and strategize the best course of action for your needs.
How to Apply for an Expungement Order
Your lawyer can help you file the correct petitions for your situation. Generally, you can ask the court to expunge the following:
- Misdemeanor and felony cases that the court dismissed,
- All cases for which you received an acquittal, and
- Some, but not all, convictions.
Some convictions must remain in public view in the interest of justice and public safety. Excluded offenses include DWI, embezzlement, crimes committed against children, sex crimes that require registration as a sex offender, and violent offenses resulting in death or bodily harm.
New Mexico’s expungement law established a minimum waiting period before you can apply to expunge certain convictions. You must wait one year before applying to expunge any case that did not result in a sentence. Otherwise, you have to wait a minimum of two years before applying to expunge some misdemeanor offenses—and as long as 10 years from the end of your sentence to expunge felony convictions.
New Mexico Cannabis Regulation Act
New Mexico’s Cannabis Regulation Act (NMCRA) changed the law significantly to help people convicted of marijuana-related crimes. The new law automatically expunges marijuana-related arrest and conviction records if the act is no longer a crime or if it would be considered a lesser crime under the NMCRA. The NMCRA allows expungement two years after an arrest or conviction. The law permits only minor cannabis charges to be expunged automatically. All other charges accompanying a cannabis arrest or conviction remain subject to the expungement statute.
Choose an Experienced Lawyer Dedicated to Clearing Your Name
When you hire an expungement attorney from the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices, you will work with a dedicated attorney whose primary focus is clearing your name. With over 22 years of experience, we can offer you personalized service with only your best interests in mind. Our lawyers have earned the respect of judges, prosecutors, and other lawyers in their local courts. Contact us today for a free consultation. We are committed to helping you get your life back on track.