A criminal record doesn’t just mean that you must check a certain box when filling out employment applications. It can also limit everything from your housing opportunities to what higher education scholarships you can receive.
For many offenses in New Mexico, the criminal record that results from a conviction in court or a guilty plea will be permanent. For the rest of your life, prospective employers and even members of the public can find information about a mistake you made years ago.
Thankfully, some people with criminal records can qualify for expungement or record sealing. How do you know if your New Mexico criminal record is eligible for expungement?
Certain offenses do not qualify
In some states, people can only expunge misdemeanors. In others, only dismissals or acquittals can lead to expungement. Compared to such strict rules, New Mexico has a relatively forgiving expungement system.
People can expunge arrest records, convictions and acquittal records from felonies and misdemeanors. However, there are certain kinds of offenses that the state does not allow people to expunge.
These categories are:
- Crimes against children
- Driving while intoxicated (DWI)
- Sex crimes requiring offender registration
- Violence offenses causing great bodily harm or death
Unless you committed one of these restricted offenses, you can potentially petition the court to expunge your criminal record.
How does expungement work?
If the courts review your application and approve it, they will seal your record. Although prosecutors and law enforcement could access those records later, members of the general public cannot. If someone performs a background check after your expungement, they will not see any record of your arrest or time in court.
However, the record of the expungement petition will be public unless the courts agree to seal it for you. Additionally, the courts cannot force news organizations to take down stories about the case or alter the record databases maintained by private background check and investigation companies.
Still, the benefits of an expungement are obvious. Sealing your criminal record allows you to move on with your life and pursue opportunities that otherwise might not be accessible because of your criminal record. Learning more about post-conviction relief, including record expungement, can help you move on with life after involvement with the criminal justice system.