How Much Does an Expungement Cost?
Many people who are thinking about getting their criminal record erased wonder, How much does an expungement cost? If this is on your mind, you might want to look at the question from a different point of view. The better question might be, what is the cost of NOT expunging my criminal record? Expunging your criminal history can open new doors for you and help you get more out of life.
Expunging your criminal history is a complicated legal process that an experienced attorney from the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices can make much easier. We have years of experience helping folks like you get their lives back on track by removing impediments like arrests or convictions. You may find that new doors will open for you once you close the door to your past. Don’t hesitate to contact us today.
What Is an Expungement?
An expungement is a court order that removes access to your criminal records and docket entries that are part of a public record. Courts and law enforcement agencies do not destroy the records. Instead, an expungement order prevents the public from obtaining court information about you contained in public records.
Arrest entries, complaints, indictments, charging documents, guilty pleas, convictions, acquittals, dismissals, and discharges are public records under New Mexico’s expungement law. The definition of public records also includes information posted on law enforcement and court websites. Members of the public will no longer have access to this information after the court enters an expungement order.
You should also understand which types of documents the law excludes from the definition of public records. The following items are not public records:
- Arrest records that reveal confidential law enforcement information,
- Documents regarding an investigation that does not lead to charges,
- Any part of a file maintained by the prosecutor as confidential,
- Records maintained by the children, youth, and families departments,
- Education records, and
- Records produced by a background check.
The general public cannot view the documents listed here anyway. As a result, expungement orders do not cover these documents. However, you should know that the law grants access to law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and employers with security clearance in limited circumstances.
How Could Expunging a Criminal Record Help Me?
You might wonder why you would want to return to court to address something that happened in the past. You’ve paid your debt to society, and you’ve moved on. However, there are some very important reasons why you should.
You will have a clean background check if the court grants your petition. Also, you never have to disclose prior arrests or convictions again to prospective employers, landlords, occupational licensing boards, and institutions of higher learning. People living in New Mexico who were not born in the United States also benefit from having an expunged criminal history. As a result, the process allows you to put the stigma of a criminal arrest or conviction behind you.
You now have a better chance to land a better job, live where you want, and raise your family how you want.
How Do I Get an Expungement Order?
New Mexico law requires you to meet two eligibility requirements. First, you cannot apply to expunge convictions for DWI, embezzlement, sex crimes that require sex offender registration, crimes against children, and violent crimes that caused great bodily harm or death. If your record contains convictions for these offenses, you could expunge other crimes but not these. However, you could expunge arrests, charges, dismissals, and acquittals for the charges on this list.
Second, you cannot apply to expunge your record until you have waited the required length of time. The period you must wait varies depending on the circumstances of your case. You have the right to apply for expungement immediately if you are the victim of identity theft or if the charge you were arrested on is no longer on the books as a crime. But you must wait one year after the final disposition for a non-conviction. And it’s important to know that any mandated waiting period begins at the end of your sentence.
The law requires the following waiting periods:
- Two years for a municipal ordinance or misdemeanor conviction,
- Three years for misdemeanor aggravated battery or fourth-degree felony conviction,
- Six years for third-degree felony convictions,
- Eight years for second-degree felony convictions, and
- Ten years for first-degree felony convictions and crimes against household members.
That last category holds true even if the crime against a household member was a misdemeanor.
Having a skilled and dedicated lawyer to guide you through this process will make it easier for you to file your petition to expunge and ensure that you don’t make any critical mistakes. We can help you determine if you are eligible to file a petition to expunge your record, and we will work with you to prepare your filings.
Expungement Filing Fees
You might wonder, What are the costs of an expungement?
As your lawyer, we will file your petition on your behalf in the court where your conviction occurred. The New Mexico Supreme Court considers expungement petitions to be civil lawsuits. As a result, the court charges you a filing fee of $132. However, the court might charge additional fees as well. The court charges $13 to file each subsequent pleading in the case. You must file one petition for each crime you want to expunge, so the costs could escalate if you have more than one case.
Also, you will have to pay for the costs of researching and reproducing your criminal history. The fee depends on the amount of work that entails for the New Mexico Department of Public Safety and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The New Mexico Department of Public Safety research fee is at least $15.
What Happens Next?
Filing your expungement petition gets the ball rolling. The court will set a hearing date for the prosecutor to oppose your petition to expunge a conviction. Victims and other interested parties also have a right to address the court in opposition. The judge will decide your case within 60 days.
Working with a skilled criminal lawyer from the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices gives you a better chance to succeed than representing yourself. You will not have another opportunity to file a second petition—which means you have to get it right the first time. Relying on our tremendous experience in New Mexico Courts, especially the Second District Court, could give you the edge you need to get your life back on track.