This year's special legislative session has brought several new changes to New Mexico, including to the Criminal Record Expungement Act. These changes will provide, among other things, improvements to the way expungements are handled as well as providing for automatic expungement for certain cannabis-related offenses. Here are some of the important amendments, which will go into effect this summer:
- Automatic expungement of cannabis-related offenses. If the offense would not be a crime or would have resulted in a lesser offense under the Cannabis Regulation Act (“CRA”), the offense will be automatically expunged two years after the date of conviction or arrest. A person can petition for relief under the regular expungement process if they do not want to wait.
- Dismissal or reduction of sentences for cannabis-related offenses. The new expungement law was written in tandem with the Cannabis Regulation Act and was designed to provide some remedy for the expansive negative impacts of the failed War on Drugs. The new law ensures that those serving sentences premised (in whole or in part) upon convictions for cannabis-related offenses that will no longer be considered criminal under the CRA are either released or they receive a reduced sentence.
- Expungement petitions will be filed under seal or pseudonym. Without this important change, expungement petitions were public record unless and until the court expunged them along with the underlying criminal case, which contradicted the purpose of the Criminal Record Expungement Act.
- Along those lines, the law now requires expungement of the expungement proceeding itself upon granting of a petition.
- Allows a single petition to request expungement of multiple records that originated in the same jurisdiction.Before, a separate petition was required for every non-conviction case a petitioner sought to expunge even if they were all in the same jurisdiction. This will streamline the expungement process and cut down on costs for the petitioners.
- Expands the scope of offenses eligible to be expunged after one year to include penalty assessments under the Criminal Code and Motor Vehicle Code and deferred sentences under the Motor Vehicle Code. This adds an entirely new category of offenses as “non-convictions.” Non-convictions are easier to expunge than convictions, which require longer waiting periods and proving to the court that the expungement serves the interests of justice. This important change may arguably include deferred DWI sentences, which would otherwise be ineligible as an exception to the expungement law.
- The new law also limits the scope of records that may be considered during the licensure process with language that mirrors federal law.
If you are interested in pursuing expungement to clear your criminal record, please call our office. The Rothstein Donatelli law firm can help you remove barriers created by a criminal record by first helping you identify whether you are eligible to petition for expungement and then by providing vigorous legal representation throughout the expungement process.