This question comes up all the time. It usually comes up well after the conviction when the person is facing issues with employment so this will be the focus of the discussion.
The short and unfortunate answer to this question is that a conviction with extremely rare exceptions stays on your record forever.
This answer applies to all criminal convictions from the most innocuous petty misdemeanor to the most serious felonies. This can have long-lasting consequences for those with a criminal history. Again, the most common issues related to employment.
Certain criminal offenses may disqualify you from certain kinds of employment. Some employers might simply take a position that they do not hire anyone with any kind of criminal record. In New Mexico, one issue that arises repeatedly due to the government labs, military bases and other sensitive government facilities is the inability to get required security clearances.
If you are in this position, your first call should be to an employment lawyer. In fact, you would probably want to talk to an employment lawyer versed in these types of issues well before any applications for employment or security clearances. There are many reasons for this. First, and foremost, failure to disclose on governmental application may be a crime itself. Second, a failure to fully disclose, even if not a crime, may be grounds for later termination.
Unfortunately, we do not handle employment law matters. There are many capable attorneys throughout New Mexico that do. If you are facing a situation where a past criminal charge is affecting your employment, then you should consult with an attorney immediately.
As mentioned in the opening paragraph, there are very rare exceptions where it is possible to clear an old criminal charge. One such rare instance would entail an expungement of the conviction and the criminal charges. Expungements are extremely difficult to get in New Mexico. It is perhaps worth exploring if you have the money to pay an attorney to look into it. However, you should understand that it is a long shot at best.
The other perhaps even rarer possibility is having the record sealed. This is typically reserved only for juvenile offenses. It would be near impossible to get the record sealed without first getting an expungement which again is extremely difficult itself. Even with an expungement, it is not necessarily the case that the record would be sealed.
In short, a criminal conviction will most likely stay on your record forever. If you have a criminal record, it might be worth speaking with an attorney about possible expungement just in case your situation is the rare exception. Though this might give you some level of comfort in knowing, you should be prepared for the bad news.
Because the cases are so difficult to win and the outcome is usually very disappointing for the client, we do not handle these types of matters. Instead, we refer them out to someone that will take them with the understanding that it is not inexpensive and the outcome is likely to be anything but satisfying.