Prior to January 1, 2020, New Mexico allowed the expungement or sealing of records in very limited circumstances. In fact, the state would only grant an expungement for a misdemeanor or petty misdemeanor if not record of the disposition could be found. If record of a disposition existed, expungement was impossible. On April 3, 2019, however, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed into law an act that would expand the eligibility criteria for judicial sealing and expungement.
The Criminal Record Expungement Act
Per the Criminal Record Expungement Act, courts have the authority to limit public access to all but a limited category of non-conviction records after a one-year waiting period. However, for this to occur, the petitioning individual must have no pending charges against him or her.
Also per the CREA, courts have the authority to seal the records of most convictions following a conviction-free waiting period of between two and ten years. The length of the waiting period depends on the severity of the crime. Prior to the enactment of CREA, New Mexico courts could only seal records of first-time drug offenses committed by a juvenile, juvenile adjudications or offenses committed by victims of human trafficking.
Expunging Criminal Records
Per Section 5A of CREA, most persons who have a conviction for a felony, misdemeanor or municipal ordinance violation on their records may petition for expungement. However, the courts will only hear the petition once a person completes the sentence and pays all fines and fees owed to the state. Before the courts can grant an expungement, an offender must show he or she completed a conviction-free waiting period of between two and 10 years. All but the most serious of misdemeanor offenses and municipal ordinance violations have a waiting period of two years. The waiting period begins after the completion of the sentence.
Some felony and misdemeanor convictions are not eligible for relief. Those include crimes involving a child, sex, great bodily harm, driving under the influence and embezzlement.
Expunging Non-Conviction Records
In addition to drastically expanding the number of records eligible for expungement, CREA also protects those who are charged but never convicted. Per Section 4 of the new law, the courts are authorized to expunge records when a defendant is released without conviction. A non-conviction includes acquittals, dismissals, pre-prosecution referral to diversion and an order of conditional discharge.
Contact an Albuquerque Criminal Defense Attorney
CREA is now one of the broadest record-closing authorities in the nation. Its enactment will drastically change the lives of the accused and the convicted for the better. If you have a criminal record you want to seal or expunge, contact Simon A. Kubiak, Attorney At Law, PC, to learn more about your rights and options.