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  • Expungement Process: What Is It And Why You Should Consider It

    Posted on by JACK MKHITARIAN

    Criminal record expungement.The expungement process in New Mexico just got easier. New Mexico just loosened its expungement laws to reflect a shift in criminal justice philosophy from a strictly penal system to incorporate rehabilitation. You may benefit from these changes.

    The New Mexico state government recognizes that many people deserve a second chance. At New Mexico Criminal Law Offices, our expungement law lawyers may be able to help you get old charges off of your criminal record. With our help, we can file a petition for expungement and help you start over again.

    Why You Should Consider Expungement

    Anyone with a criminal history should think about filing a petition to expunge their record.  Under a recent change in New Mexico law relating to marijuana possession, every arrest and every conviction for a charge that could not be brought today—or would be a lesser penalty because the law changed—must be expunged.  For example, if you have a conviction for possessing less than one ounce of marijuana, the new law states that the conviction must be expunged. The expungement includes the arrest records generated from your arrest for possession of marijuana as well. The law entitles you to receive the benefit of the changed law even if you are serving jail time.

    The new expungement law does not automatically expunge crimes such as trafficking marijuana or unlawful sale of marijuana. You must petition a court for relief instead.

    Why Is Getting My Charges Expunged Beneficial?

    You might wonder if getting your charges expunged is worth the trouble. And our answer would be that it absolutely is worth the time and effort. Expungement in New Mexico means that all arrest records and all public records relating to your charges are wiped clean. Thus, an expungement order means that you can treat your charges as if they never existed. According to New Mexico statutes 29-3A-7, if the court grants your petition and you are later asked about your criminal history, you can legally and honestly answer that you have no criminal history.

    You may face questions about your criminal history on:

    • Job applications,
    • School applications,
    • Mortgage applications,
    • Loan applications, and
    • Rent applications.

    Answering that you have a criminal history on any of these applications can truly impede your progress in life. Your criminal record can force you to forfeit your rights. With a criminal conviction, the law may prevent you from voting, owning a gun, and holding elected office. Moreover, a criminal conviction might prevent you from obtaining a professional license. In short, a criminal record follows you wherever you go.

    Filing a petition to expunge your conviction is an important decision for your future. It literally can wipe the slate clean. So speak with an experienced New Mexico expungement law attorney so they can explain why you should consider expungement of your criminal charges.

    What Process Must I Follow to File a Petition to Expunge My Prior Convictions?

    New Mexico is allowing you to make a better future for yourself, but a judge does not have to automatically grant the request to expunge your record. Even though New Mexico changed its laws radically, there are several crimes that you cannot expunge. Those crimes are:

    • Murder or other crime of violence;
    • DWI;
    • Sexual assaults;
    • Crimes perpetrated against children; and
    • Embezzlement.

    Under no circumstances can a judge allow a petition to expunge your record if you have convictions for any of these charges. However, if you have any of these charges on your record without a conviction, then your petition to expunge your record might be granted if you otherwise qualify for expungement.

    Expungement Qualifications for Non-Convictions

    New Mexico’s amended expungement law gives many people the chance to have their charges wiped off their record. However, you must make sure you meet all of the requirements before you file a petition to expunge. A qualified New Mexico expungement law lawyer can let you know if you qualify and then prepare your petition. Relying on a knowledgeable and experienced attorney can improve your chances of benefitting from the recent law change.

    Under New Mexico statutes 29-3A-4, you can apply for expungement one year after your case ends without a conviction. Your charge could be an ordinance violation, misdemeanor, felony, or fall under the Motor Vehicle Code. You can petition the court as long as no conviction was entered. This includes deferred sentences.

    However, you must satisfy a couple of additional conditions. You have to complete your sentence, pay all fines, fees, and complete probation or parole. The court will not deem your sentence complete if you have outstanding obligations to the court.

    Your lawyer will serve the correct parties with the petition. You have to give notice to the prosecutor because the prosecutor and the public have a right to object to your request within 30 days. The judge will hear the objections. But if you’ve fulfilled all requirements and have no new charges, and barring any extenuating circumstances, the judge issues an order expunging all public records of your arrest.

    Upon granting your petition, the court sends notice to all relevant police agencies and courts advising that the court has ordered your criminal records expunged.

    Expunging Records After a Conviction

    New Mexico law allows you to expunge criminal convictions in limited circumstances. Only first-time offenders have the right to apply to expunge their records. Repeat offenders cannot have their records expunged. However, if you have only one conviction, you can ask the court to expunge your record if you wait the allotted amount of time.

    You must give the prosecution notice of your petition. They have the right to object as does any member of the public. Additionally, the judge may only grant your petition after a conviction if:

    • You satisfied all obligations of your sentence;
    • You paid all restitution owed to any victims;
    • There are no criminal charges pending against you; and
    • Justice requires the judge to allow your petition.

    The judge will look into your age, work history, the nature of the offense, the amount of time that has passed after your conviction date, and the adverse consequences you face because your case remains on your record.

    You should understand that you cannot ask the judge to expunge your record until the required time passes. The amount of time you need to wait before filing a petition depends on the underlying charge.

    If you have charges concerning a violation of the Crimes Against Household Members Act, or a first-degree felony, then you have to wait at least 10 years before you can apply. Conversely, you have to wait at least two years before asking the court to expunge your record for a misdemeanor or ordinance conviction. You must wait four, six, or eight years before applying for relief if you have any other felony conviction.

    Freedom Is the Reason You Should Consider Expungement

    Your case might haunt you for the rest of your life if you do not petition the court to expunge your record. Only after expunging your record can you truly put all of your legal troubles behind you. With the help of the expert expungement law attorneys from New Mexico Criminal Law Offices, you have the best chance to expunge your record and move on with your life. Call us today at 505-200-2982. Let us help you reach your fullest potential.