What New Mexico Crimes or Criminal Records Are Eligible for Expungement?
It’s often said that your criminal record sticks with you for the rest of your life. However, that is not entirely true. Through a New Mexico expungement, you may be able to clear your record of qualifying convictions and other records. For some, this offers a rare opportunity for a fresh start. When a record gets expunged, it is cleared from the public view, meaning landlords, employers, friends, and family members will not be able to access it. However, the record stays on file and may be used by law enforcement or the court system for various other purposes, such as to determine your sentence if you are arrested again in the future.
What Is a New Mexico Expungement?
New Mexico law defines an 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.” Undoubtedly, this is a lengthy and rather complex definition and requires a bit of explanation. Expungement requests fall into two main categories: requests to expunge arrest records and requests to expunge convictions.
Expungement of an Arrest Record
The first group of expungements relates to arrest records that did not result in a conviction. This includes situations where police arrested you for a crime but prosecutors never formally charged you or where you were arrested, charged, went to trial, and were found not guilty. You can also obtain an expungement for most offenses for which you successfully completed a diversionary program. To qualify for an expungement for an offense that did not result in a conviction, you must wait at least one year before filing and cannot have any open criminal cases at the time you file.
Expungement of a Conviction
The other type of expungement pertains to offenses that ended in a conviction. If you were arrested and pled guilty or were found guilty, you might still be able to get your record expunged.
Offenses eligible for expungement
Not all convictions are eligible for an expungement in New Mexico. For example, convictions for following offenses are ineligible for expungement:
- Any crime committed against a child;
- Any offense causing “great bodily harm” or death;
- Sex offenses;
- Embezzlement; and
- Driving under the influence offenses.
If you have a conviction other than the ones listed above, you may be eligible for an expungement.
Limitations on expunging a conviction record
It is much harder to get an expungement for a conviction than for an arrest record.
First, you cannot file for an expungement until you wait a certain amount of time. The amount of time you will need to wait to meet expungement eligibility requirements varies based on the type of conviction. Generally, the more serious the crime, the longer you need to wait to file for an expungement. For example, the following is a list of the mandatory wait times for various types of offenses:
- Municipal ordinance violations: two years
- Most misdemeanor convictions: two years
- Fourth-degree felony convictions: six years
- Second-degree felony convictions: eight years
- First-degree felony convictions: ten years
- Any conviction for a crime committed against a “household member”: ten years
During this required waiting period, you must remain conviction-free. If you are arrested on a new charge but the case does not result in a conviction, you will not be prohibited from filing for an expungement and it will not extend the amount of time you need to wait (unless the new case is still open at the end of the waiting period, in which case you must wait until the conclusion of that case).
Standard for granting an expungement
In addition to the conviction-free waiting period, there are a few other requirements before you can get your record expunged in New Mexico. For example, you must pay all restitution owed, and the court must find that “justice will be served” by granting an expungement. When determining whether an expungement is in the interest of justice, a court must consider:
- The nature and gravity of the offense;
- Your age, employment history, and prior criminal record;
- The adverse consequences you may face if you cannot obtain an expungement;
- The amount of time since the offense was committed;
- The length of time since you completed the sentence; and
- Any objections raised by the district attorney.
District attorneys may object to an expungement petition for many of the same reasons the court must consider. However, the district attorney arguably has more information at their disposal, such as whether someone is under investigation for a crime. The district attorney’s role as a prosecutor may make them more likely to object, especially for those with a significant criminal history or a lengthy history of arrests that did not result in a conviction (such as having several domestic violence arrests).
Expungements for Victims of Identity Theft
In 2020, New Mexico lawmakers passed a groundbreaking expungement law that revamped many of the previous procedures. One of the most significant changes pertains to those who have arrests or convictions on their record because of identity theft.
Under the new protocol, when someone files for expungement claiming they were the victim of identity theft, the court will hold a hearing within 30 days. If the court determines that the petitioner’s record was due to identity theft, it will order an expungement.
Are You Hoping to Get Your New Mexico Criminal Record Expunged?
If you have a criminal record and believe that it is holding you back from getting a job, getting into school, or otherwise moving on with your life, give the lawyers at the New Mexico Criminal Law offices a call. Our New Mexico expungement legal team has extensive experience handling expungement petitions on behalf of a wide range of clients, from one-time offenders to those with more significant criminal backgrounds. We can help you understand the process and what to expect while we create a compelling case to clear your record. To learn more and to schedule a free consultation to speak with our New Mexico expungement legal team, give us a call today. You can also reach out to us through our online form, and one of our attorneys will be in touch shortly.