New Mexico Expungements
How to get a New Mexico criminal arrest and/or conviction expunged (sealed)
New Mexico Passes Expungement LawNew Mexico recently enacted a comprehensive law authorizing expungement (sealing) of most non-conviction records, and of conviction records in all but the most serious violent and sexual crimes. Effective January 1, 2020, the Criminal Record Expungement Act (CREA) authorizes courts to limit public access to all but a limited category of non-conviction records after a one-year waiting period, as long as no charges are pending against the individual. Courts are also authorized to seal the record of most convictions after waiting periods ranging from two to ten years, upon a finding that “justice will be served by an order to expunge.” Upon taking effect, New Mexico’s CREA will be one of the broadest record-closing authorities in the Nation.
New Mexico has, at long last, passed an expungement statute, one of the best in the country. It takes effect on January 1, 2020. This means that you can petition the district court in the county where you were arrested, charged or convicted to expunge (seal) your records from public view. Someone with a prior criminal history files a petition in civil court in the county where the arrest or conviction took place. The petitioner seeks that the records of that earlier process be sealed, making the records unavailable from the state repository. If successful, the records are said to be “expunged.” This process is very different from the governor’s pardon. Black’s Law Dictionary defines “expungement of record” as the “Process by which record of criminal conviction is destroyed or sealed from the state or Federal repository.”1] While expungement deals with an underlying criminal record, it is a civil action in which the subject is the petitioner or plaintiff asking a court to declare that the records be expunged.
Do you QualifyYou may qualify if (a) you were arrested but never convicted of the offense; (b) you were convicted of a misdemeanor; (c) you were convicted of a felony offense but received a conditional discharge. Even if you were convicted of a felony offense and received a suspended or deferred sentence, or served time in jail or prison, you may still be eligible for an expungement after a period of time.
You ARE NOT ELIGIBLE if you were convicted of DUI or DWI, a sex offense, or certain first and second degree felony crimes.
Should I Hire a LawyerYou can try and get your record expunged pro se (on behalf of yourself), but usually those who represent themselves have a fool for a client. This is because after filing a petition with supporting documents, the district attorney will file a response in opposition to expungement. At a hearing you or your attorney must convince the judge that granting an expungement in your case is in the interest of justice. It is far more persuasive if a well-seasoned local attorney is making that argument than if you toot your own horn.