How Do You Expunge or Seal an Adult Criminal Record in New Mexico?
Having a criminal record will impact you the rest of your life, but in New Mexico, there may be an opportunity to seal or expunge your record.
While most states do not allow for adults to expunge their criminal record, House Bill 370, known as the Criminal Record Expungement Act, does allow for some individuals to remove convictions from their record. Before seeing if you qualify under the Act, you should also examine why you would want to expunge your record, what crimes qualify, and the next steps you should take.
What Is the Difference between Sealing and Expunging a Criminal Record?
Sealing and expunging are two different things when it comes to a criminal record; therefore, it is important to understand how each works and impacts your future.
What Is Record Sealing?
Sealing a criminal record in New Mexico works like an expungement, but not quite. Your record in this case still exists but has limited access. Your criminal acts would not show on a background check and they are not available to the public once the records are sealed. This only applies to those criminal acts that are sealed, however. A crime that was not sealed remains on your public record and would show on a background check.
Also, law enforcement and the court will have access to those sealed files.
What Is a Record Expungement?
If you expunge your criminal record, it will be like that arrest or conviction never happened. The record is removed entirely, and it is not available even to law enforcement or the courts. Also, if your record is expunged successfully when asked if you have ever been convicted of a crime, you can legally answer “no” and it will not impact you.
Why Should You Expunge or Seal a Criminal Record?
A criminal record follows you for the rest of your life. When someone conducts a background check for housing, employment, and even some government assistance programs, they will see that you were convicted of a crime. It may limit where you can work, where you can live, and how you qualify for state aid programs.
Any time you apply for a job, if there is a question asking if you have been convicted of a crime, you must answer truthfully.
Criminal records can be devastating, and they can hold a person back from enjoying their life. Most importantly, when someone has a criminal record, they are subject to social stigmas. Family, friends, and even coworkers may not see you the same, and even if you get a job, an employer may not trust you just because of your past.
Mistakes happen, and some crimes should not have to impact a person for the rest of their life. After all, if you have served your time, paid fines, and completed all of your rehabilitation steps, you should be permitted to move on with your life and not have a record following you around, reminding you and punishing you for a mistake you made.
How to Seal an Adult Criminal Record in New Mexico
In New Mexico, sealing an adult criminal record is not an option. Instead, that is reserved for juveniles. However, you can still expunge items from your criminal record – if you qualify under the new law.
How to Expunge an Adult Criminal Record in New Mexico
Under House Bill 370, you can expunge your criminal record, even as an adult – and it went into effect January 1, 2020. Your expungement is not automatic. Instead, you will want to hire a criminal attorney who can petition the court on your behalf and seek the expulsion of those records.
Not everyone will qualify for an expungement under this new law; therefore, it is important to know not only which crimes qualify, but what waiting periods could apply.
When you petition the court for the expungement, do not rely on the law to automatically grant you one. Instead, you must make sure the following applies to your case:
- You do not have a crime that is ineligible for expungement. Some categories of crimes, regardless of how long it has been, will not qualify for an expungement. For example, DWIs, embezzlement, sex crimes, crimes against children, and any violent offenses that result in the harm of another person would not qualify for expungement.
- You were accused and arrested for a crime listed above, but never convicted. If you were accused and/or charged with one of the ineligible crimes, you may qualify for an expungement if you were never convicted.
- You must complete your sentence, pay all restitution (when applicable), and any fines. Before you can apply for expungement, you must complete your sentence, pay any court-ordered fines as part of that conviction, and fulfill any restitution requirements. You will not qualify if you are still under probation or parole, as that is considered an active sentence.
- You have not been arrested for or convicted of any subsequent acts. Most importantly, you cannot have any other crimes committed after you have served your sentence for the crime you wish to expunge. Repeat offenders will not be able to expunge their criminal records at all.
- You have waited the appropriate time following the completion of your sentence. Once your sentence is done, you must then wait for the court-mandated time frame to qualify for an expungement. For example, identity theft defendants can apply immediately after they have completed their sentence, but someone convicted of a second-degree felony would have to wait eight years after they complete their sentence.
Interested in Expunging Your Criminal Record? Talk with a Defense Attorney Today
If you or a loved one was convicted of a crime, and you would like to explore your options for expunging that record now that you have served your sentence, contact us today. At New Mexico Criminal Law Offices, we understand how burdensome a record can be, and we want to help you clear your record so that you can move on in life.
Let us help you today. Schedule a free case evaluation by calling our office or contact us online with your questions regarding record expungements.