Senate majority leader is back with bill similar to one governor vetoed
Sen. Michael Sanchez will be in the eye of an old storm Wednesday, fighting again for a bill to expunge certain arrests and convictions from court records.
It is scheduled to be heard by the full 42-member Senate.
Sanchez, D-Belen, is a defense attorney and a relentless critic of New Mexico's practice of blocking most expungements, even when a person is blameless.
His bill goes further than that, though, allowing for expungement in select cases where convictions were nailed down.
Gov. Susana Martinez, no fan of Senate Majority Leader Sanchez or many of his ideas , vetoed his expungement bill last year.
But like many politicians who believe in their cause, Sanchez is relentless. He is back with a rewritten bill that he hopes will survive and become law.
The Legislative Finance Committee estimated the cost of Sanchez's bill at $280,000 over three years, plus recurring costs for state employees to handle expungements.
Here is an overview of his proposal, Senate Bill 294, from the Legislative Finance Committee:
It would allow criminal records to be expunged in cases of identity theft, wrongful arrest or one year after dismissal or release without conviction of any alleged ordinance, misdemeanor or felony violation.
The bill limits what records would be expunged. It excludes from the definition of public records and arrest records those that reveal confidential sources and records maintained by the Children, Youth, and Families Department.
Another section of the bill allows a person convicted of a misdemeanor or ordinance to petition for expungement if no other charge or proceeding has occurred for five years if the conviction was for a misdemeanor, or 10 years if the conviction was for an offense involving domestic violence or abuse. Expungements would not be permitted for sex offenses, crimes against minors and drunken driving convictions.
Sanchez has a solid chance at again getting his bill through both houses of the Legislature. Whether Martinez, a former prosecutor, is persuaded that he has excised the parts that were objectionable to her will be another and higher hurdle.