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What Is the Limit for Expunging Criminal Records?


Criminal record conceptNew Mexico Criminal Lawyers Explain the Limit for Expunging Criminal Records

New Mexico expanded its expungement law recently. Under the new version of the law, more people with criminal records gain eligibility to expunge them. Getting your criminal records expunged is a great thing. However, you should know that there are limits to your ability to expunge your record.

Experienced New Mexico expungement legal matters lawyers can help you clear your name and restore your rights. They can also help you understand the limits for expunging criminal records to better assist you in protecting your freedom and standing up for your rights.

What Is the Limit for Expunging Criminal Records?

Limitation on When You Can Ask the Court to Expunge Your Record

New Mexico’s expungement statute applies to anyone convicted of a violation of a municipal ordinance, misdemeanor, or felony as long as the person successfully completed the sentence. Dismissals and acquittals may also be expunged by the court. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the convicted person has to pay all court fees and restitution before they can have their record expunged.

If you have satisfied all of the conditions to ask a court for an order expunging your records, then you can file a petition. When you file the petition you must provide a copy to the district attorney who prosecuted you, the department of public safety, and the law enforcement agency that arrested you.

Can the Judge Deny Your Petition to Expunge Your Criminal Record?

The judge has to grant your petition within 30 days if the court finds that:

  • You have no new charges pending against you;
  • Allowing the petition will serve the ends of justice;
  • You have paid restitution to the victim; and
  • You have no convictions during the set timeframe.

The amount of time you have to wait depends on the severity of the charges you were convicted of.

As you can see, the judge must first determine that you have had no new charges and have waited the appropriate amount of time before filing your petition. The only other limitation on the judge is ensuring that granting your petition serves the ends of justice.

What does that mean? The New Mexico statute lists the things the judge has to consider when determining whether allowing your petition is just. The judge has to consider:

  • How serious your conduct was that lead to your conviction;
  • Your age, criminal history, and employment history;
  • The amount of time that passed from completing your sentence to filing the petition;
  • The adverse consequences you suffered or could suffer if the judge denies your petition; and
  • The reasons stated by the district attorney when objecting to your petition.

Remember that the judge has to consider your entire criminal record. That means the judge will see your out-of-state record if you have one.

Limitation on Expungement by Type of Crime

The first hurdle you have to clear is convincing the judge that you deserve to have your record expunged. That hurdle can be high depending on the judge. Notwithstanding, you cannot expunge some convictions from your record. The convictions you cannot expunge include:

  • Any offense committed against a child;
  • Any offense that caused great bodily harm or death to another;
  • Any sexual offense;
  • Embezzlement; or
  • An offense involving driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Public safety concerns outweigh the benefit you get from a court order expunging these charges.

What Does an Expungement Order Do?

The New Mexico statute is clear: the public cannot see any records the judge ordered expunged. In other words, for most purposes, you may treat the proceedings as though they never occurred once the judge expunges them. Therefore, you can answer truthfully that no record exists when asked for your public arrest records. You can also answer in the negative when someone asks you if you have a criminal record. Similarly, the keeper of public records can answer that no record exists if someone inquires about an expunged record.

However, please note that New Mexico law carves out an exception to non-disclosure. A person in charge of an expunged record must disclose it in response to a records request from certain entities if the request stems from your employment application. Those entities include a financial institution regulated by the financial institution authority or the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Limitations on an Expungement Order

New Mexico law excludes certain records from an expungement order. Records excluded by statute from an expungement order include:

  • Citations issued for driving while intoxicated maintained by the taxation and revenue department;
  • Computer-aided dispatch (CAD) information; or
  • Logbooks relating to blood-alcohol testing equipment.

Not every record held by a public agency is a public record. The records specified below do not fall into the definition of public record. These records include:

  • Arrest information that reveals a confidential source, investigatory methods, or other information when a person is investigated but no charges are filed;
  • Confidential information as defined under New Mexico’s Arrest Information Act;
  • A file maintained by the District Attorney or Attorney General as confidential information for law enforcement purposes and not open for public inspection; or
  • Any record received from a background check.

An expungement order does not apply to the documents listed here because they are not public documents.

Some agencies may also have access to expunged records. The District Attorney may access expunged records during an investigation. Also, employers who require high-security clearances may have access to expunged records.

Additionally, the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) provides law enforcement agencies with background information for firearms purchases. This NCIC database will have a record of your expunged conviction.

Get Help with Your Petition to Expunge from Dedicated New Mexico Criminal Charges Defense Lawyers

The lawyers with New Mexico Criminal Law Offices have dedicated their careers to fighting for your rights. Contact them today at 505-200-2982 to learn how they can help you expunge your record. We look forward to helping you get the fresh start that you deserve.