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Sealing and Expunging Criminal Records in New Mexico

Public criminal records in New Mexico may affect the record holder negatively. In most instances, ex-convicts whose records are available on the New Mexico Case Lookup may find it hard to get employment, housing, and access to other social opportunities. As a result, most offenders seek to seal or expunge their criminal records upon fulfilling the requirements of the law. The process of sealing a record in New Mexico involves petitioning the appropriate criminal court. Once the petition is filed, the presiding judge is tasked with deciding whether the applicant’s criminal record meets the criteria contained in the new Criminal Record Expungement Act (CREA). Also, in the new CRE Act, records such as juvenile adjudications, crimes by human trafficking victims, and first drug violations (under 18) may be expunged in New Mexico.

The Difference Between Sealing and Expunging Criminal Records

To seal a New Mexico criminal record is quite similar to an expungement in the state. A sealed New Mexico record still exists but is restricted. Criminal records usually don’t show on any background check. Also, the documents can not be accessed by the general public once they are sealed or expunged. Persons that successfully get their criminal records expunged/sealed can legally declare under oath that they did not commit the expunged crime if asked about it.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How to Seal a Criminal Record in New Mexico

The new CREA requires that criminal records be limited to the public. According to the expungement law, record sealing is available to:

  • Individuals who were not convicted in the criminal court
  • Individuals with minor crimes such as misdemeanors and violation of ordinances

Below are the following requirements necessary before applying for record sealing:

  • Individuals must complete their sentences, pay the fines, and all restitutions (when applicable). Applicants that are still under parole or probation cannot seek to have a criminal record expunged. Paroles or probation are regarded as active sentences.
  • All potential applicants must not have been arrested or convicted of any serious crimes. Most importantly, the individual must not have any other crime on record after serving a sentence for the crime that is to be expunged as offenders that repeat their offenses cannot get their criminal records expunged at all.
  • The applicant must have waited for the stipulated period after completing the sentence. For non-convicted record holders, the waiting period is one year (after disposition), while felony convictions (first degree) or convictions recorded under house bill 497 (domestic violence) must wait for a minimum of 10 years after the sentence.

After the sentence, the person must then await the court to select a date-time. However, identity theft criminal record-holders can apply immediately after they have completed their sentence

Eligible applicants must select and fill the proper application form. Individuals should petition the district court where the person got convicted (for documents that were convicted) and hand notice of the application to both the arresting body and the district attorney. The court shall consider the following before giving a verdict as to the petition for expungement:

  • the severity and nature of the committed crime
  • the age of the applicant as well as that person’s criminal and employment history
  • the time elapsed since the crime was perpetrated and also the completion of the sentence
  • the actual consequences the applicant may face if the petition is denied
  • All reasons were given by the district attorney to deny the petition for expungement

Interested persons should also remember to send their application forms along with documents such as:

  • A certified statement proving the applicant’s eligibility for expungement,
  • Documentation of the petitioners older petitions for expungement (where applicable) as well as the outcome
  • Documentation of the applicant’s pending criminal charges (where applicable)

What Crimes Can Be Expunged in New Mexico?

Expunging a record means complete destruction or removal of the file from the central repository. Although expunging a record is available in rare cases, the process is difficult and almost impossible. In New Mexico, a criminal record may be expunged if:

  • The case involves an individual arrested due to mistaken identity
  • It is a juvenile case

How to Expunge Criminal Records in New Mexico

In New Mexico, interested persons can petition to have their criminal records expunged from the public records. As stated under the New Mexico law (§ 32A–2–26), the court can, on behalf or on a motion from a young person’s (that is under 18) representative, expunge that person’s record if:

  • Two years have passed since that individual was finally released from either supervision or custody
  • Two years have passed since another verdict has been given on the case
  • The young person was not discovered by a court to be delinquent (within the past two years), and there’s no pending court hearing. Or has yet to be convicted of either a misdemeanor or felony
  • The court decides that there’s a good reason to expunge the criminal records before that person turns 18 years.

Do Sealed Records Show up In New Mexico Background Checks?

No, sealed New Mexico criminal history records are not available in background checks. As stated under § 30–52–1.2(D), inspecting the documents or the release of expunged parts of the records included in an expungement order can only be allowed when a subsequent order, having a good cause is given. Even then, the documents can only be accessible after all parties involved in the original petition have been notified.

Who Can See Sealed Criminal Records in New Mexico?

In New Mexico, the only individuals authorized to access sealed criminal records are law enforcement agents and court officials. These two government entities can access criminal records only when it pertains to public security issues and such matters. The record holder may also request for access to the sealed record. Typically, all sealed records may be accessible to persons that are granted a court order.

How to Obtain Sealed Records in New Mexico

For residents in New Mexico to access a sealed criminal record, interested persons should petition the court to seek a court order to view the file. The petition should state in clear terms the reasons for seeking the documents; then the courts would determine if it’s a good cause or not. Interested persons can, however, request to view their criminal files at the Clerk of Court’s office that has jurisdiction in the place the crime was committed. Alternatively, individuals can fill an online request form to gain access to criminal records.

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