What Cases Can Be Sealed in Colorado?
A criminal case on your record can have lasting ramifications on your life, including your ability to find a job and housing. In Colorado, a criminal record is created any time someone is arrested or charged with a crime, even if they are found innocent later. One of the best ways to get your life back after a criminal case is by sealing your record. Find out if your case is eligible to be sealed under state law in Colorado, as well as how to begin this process.
Record Sealing vs. Expungement
Sealing a record means closing it from public view. Unlike expungement, it does not erase a criminal record. Instead, it seals it so that only authorized individuals and agencies have access, such as law enforcement officers and prosecutors. In Colorado, only juveniles are eligible for record expungement. Adult defendants must request that their records be sealed, instead. A sealed record will not be discoverable in an online search or accessible to employers and landlords. It is a way for a defendant with a criminal history to get a fresh start by restricting access to the record.
What Cases Qualify for Record Sealing in Colorado?
Not every individual will be eligible to have his or her record sealed in Colorado. State law restricts this opportunity only to certain people based on their criminal histories and other factors. Cases that are eligible to be sealed in Colorado include those that are dismissed, untried cases and cases in which the defendant is acquitted. Even if a criminal case resulted in a guilty verdict, the record can still be sealed if it is a qualifying type of crime. The following cases are eligible for record sealing in Colorado:
- Arrest records that don’t have convictions
- Convictions that have been pardoned
- Most petty offenses
- Most misdemeanor drug offenses
- Underage DUIs
- Underage alcohol and marijuana convictions
- Class 2 and 3 misdemeanors
- Class 4, 5 and 6 felonies
- Level 2, 3 and 4 drug felonies
Certain scenarios can qualify an individual to seal his or her criminal record immediately – for example, if you were found not guilty, you were arrested but never charged with a crime, or if you finished your deferred judgment and a diversion program. Otherwise, you must fulfill the waiting period before petitioning the courts to seal your record. The length of the waiting period depends on the type of crime involved and ranges from two to five years.
How to Seal Your Criminal Record in Colorado
Having an eligible criminal record sealed in Colorado can come with many advantages, such as improving your job prospects and avoiding negative social stigmas. If you wish to file a petition to have your record sealed, take the following steps:
- Obtain a copy of your criminal record from your local law enforcement agency as well as a certified copy from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
- Complete the forms required to initiate the petition, which vary based on your specific case. Submit them to the court along with any required supporting documentation.
- Pay the filing fee of $224 or submit financial affidavits to the court proving you cannot afford the fee.
- Prepare for your hearing. The courts will review your petition and supporting documentation to determine if you need a hearing. If so, you will need to prepare to answer questions about your request and deal with any objections raised.
- Notify the Colorado Bureau of Investigations if an order to seal your record is granted. You must provide the Bureau and other agencies listed on your order with a copy of the signed judgment for your record to be sealed.
If a criminal record has held you back professionally or personally, discuss the option of record sealing with a Colorado criminal defense attorney today. This process can be confusing and difficult to handle on your own. A lawyer can help you understand your rights and file the petition.