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  • Can I Expunge My Marijuana Conviction?

    Posted on by JACK MKHITARIAN

    expunge marijuana convictionsA criminal record can negatively affect your life in more ways than you realize.

    Luckily, you can remove some of the information on your criminal record with an expungement.

    With the legalization of recreational marijuana sweeping across the United States, many people with a marijuana conviction want to know their expungement options.

    Following the legalization of recreational cannabis in 2021, the New Mexico legislature passed the New Mexico Cannabis Regulations Act.

    They also passed the Criminal Record Expungement Act, which aims to undo the historical impacts of cannabis criminalization.

    The new legislation makes it easier to expunge a marijuana conviction in New Mexico. If you need help getting a marijuana conviction expungement or have questions about expungements in New Mexico, contact our office today. 

    What Is an Expungement?

    New Mexico defines expungement as “the removal from access to the general public of a notation of an arrest, complaint, indictment, information, plea of guilty, conviction, acquittal, dismissal or discharge record, including a record posted on a publicly accessible court, corrections, or law enforcement internet website.”

    Expungements can help you clear your criminal history to make you a more attractive candidate during job interviews or college applications. Essentially, expungements fall into one of two categories: arrest record expungements and conviction expungements. 

    Arrest Expungements

    Even if you do not receive a conviction, an arrest still appears on your criminal record.

    For example, if you are arrested for burglary but the prosecutor chooses not to file charges against you, the arrest will still show up when someone runs a background check.

    As you can see, this presents issues for people when they are trying to find employment or secure housing. To qualify for an arrest expungement, you must wait at least one year from your arrest before filing the expungement petition.

    Additionally, you cannot have any open criminal charges against you when you file.

    Conviction Expungements 

    Conviction expungements refer to actual convictions. This includes times when you pleaded guilty or when you were found guilty at trial.

    However, New Mexico prohibits expungement for certain convictions, including:

    • Any offense causing “great bodily harm”;
    • Any offense resulting in death;
    • Sex offenses;
    • Any crime committed against a child;
    • Embezzlement; and
    • Driving under the influence and related offenses.

    Getting a conviction expunged typically presents more difficulty than getting an arrest expunged. This would apply to a conviction for marijuana expungement as well.

    Does the New Mexico Cannabis Regulations Act Help With Marijuana Conviction Expungement?

    The New Mexico Cannabis Regulations Act (NMCRA) and Criminal Record Expungement Act went into effect on April 1, 2022. The latter portion of the legislation expands New Mexico’s prior expungement legislation.

    Under the new law, any marijuana-related offense that is no longer considered a crime—or would have been a lesser offense after the passage of NMCRA—may be automatically expunged two years after the date of your arrest or conviction.

    If a juvenile receives a marijuana conviction, the record will be expunged on their 18th birthday, even if two years have not passed. If you were convicted of possession of marijuana in combination with another crime, only your marijuana-related arrest or conviction would be expunged. 

    Additionally, under the NMCRA, courts can reopen people’s cases, dismiss the charges, and seal the records if the charges are deemed invalid by the new legislation.

    Those currently serving a sentence for a marijuana conviction can receive an early release, a reduced sentence, and have their records expunged. 

    Can Courts Deny an Expungement?

    You have to satisfy a number of obligations before you can successfully receive an expungement.

    First, you need to wait the necessary waiting period. The length of your waiting period depends on the category of offense for your conviction. More serious offenses require longer waiting periods, while minor offenses require shorter ones.

    The most common waiting period lengths include:

    • Municipal ordinance violation: two-year waiting period;
    • Most misdemeanor convictions: two-year waiting period;
    • Fourth-degree felony conviction: six-year waiting period;
    • First-degree felony conviction: 10-year waiting period; and
    • Any conviction for a crime committed against a household member: 10-year waiting period.

    During the waiting period, you cannot receive additional convictions or have open criminal charges pending against you.

    Additionally, the court must find that granting your expungement will serve the interests of justice.

    When making this determination, the court considers things like the:

    • Consequences of the inability to obtain an expungement;
    • Amount of time that has passed since you completed your sentence;
    • Amount of time that has passed since you committed the crime;
    • Nature and gravity of the underlying offense;
    • Defendant’s age, employment history, and prior criminal history; and
    • Objections raised by the district attorney. 

    Absent extraordinary circumstances, the court would likely find that a marijuana expungement serves the interests of justice. 

    If you have questions about how to expunge a marijuana conviction in New Mexico, look no further.

    Our team at the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices is ready to help. Contact our office today so we can discuss your case.

    Seeking a Marijuana Conviction Expungement? Contact the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices Today

    A criminal record can result in you missing out on several opportunities like getting a job, receiving a scholarship, or moving on with your life.

    Instead of letting your criminal record dictate the path of your life, you can get your criminal record expunged. Our team can help you secure the fresh start you need with a clean criminal history. 

    At the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices, we have over two decades of experience representing individuals facing criminal charges.

    We have assisted hundreds of clients in expunging their arrest and conviction records. The laws in New Mexico are constantly changing with the legalization of recreational marijuana.

    You need an attorney who is up-to-speed on these changes and knows which arrests and convictions qualify for expungement and which do not.

    We can help you understand the process and what to expect while we create a compelling case to clear your record.

    Contact us today to discuss your case.