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Blog Update on Record Sealing (Non-Drug Offenses)

I. Sealing of Criminal Records other than Convictions [1]

A criminal record may be sealed if it involves a criminal offense for which you completed a diversion agreement, your case was entirely dismissed, or you were acquitted at trial. If you were arrested but charges were never brought, you may petition the court to seal your record if the statute of limitations has run out (see C.R.S. §16-5-401), or if you are no longer being investigated by law enforcement for the commission of the offense.

If the record contains a case or charge that was dismissed pursuant to a plea agreement, several criteria must be met in order for the record to be sealable. If an offense was not charged due to a plea agreement in a separate case, or if a case was dismissed due to a plea agreement in a separate case, the record is only sealable if: (1) ten years have passed since the final disposition of the case, and (2) the person has not been charged for any criminal offense during the ten year period.

If you completed a deferred judgment and sentence for a DUI, a DWAI, or an offense involving unlawful sexual behavior (even if it was a misdemeanor), your record cannot be sealed. If you were charged with any of these offenses and you were acquitted at trial or the case was entirely dismissed, you may still be eligible to have the record sealed.

II. Sealing of Criminal Convictions for Petty Offenses and Municipal Offenses [2]

If you were convicted of a petty offense or a municipal violation, you may petition the court to seal that record if you meet several criteria. First, you must wait at least three years from either the date of the final disposition of the case, or the date you were released from supervision (jail or probation), whichever date is later. Next, you must not have been charged or convicted of a felony, a misdemeanor, or a traffic misdemeanor in the three or more years since the final disposition of the case, or your release from supervision. Even if you had a later case that was dismissed, it still may prevent you from being able to petition to seal your municipal or petty offense conviction.

III. Additional Issues affecting all petitions to seal

What if I still owe money in the case I want to seal?

A requirement for all petitions to seal is that you must have paid all restitution, court costs, fines, or any other fees associated with the case, unless the original issuing court has vacated those costs.

What are the effects of a sealing order?

Background checks for employment and housing are usually of the greatest concern to people with criminal records. If your conviction record is sealed, employers, state and local government agencies, landlords, and other employees cannot require you to disclose any information about that record. You are not required to answer any question about the sealed record and, in fact, you may state that you have not been criminally convicted. Your employment application may not be denied solely because of your refusal to disclose information about records that have been sealed. [3]

Some parties will still be able to see your record even if it is sealed. This is mainly limited to law enforcement, prosecutors, or any agency required by law to perform a criminal history check. You should also be aware that your record can be unsealed if you are convicted of a new criminal offense.

Does it matter how much time has passed?

For some offenses, the court may require a certain amount of time to have passed between your conviction and your petition to seal. Convictions for municipal violations, petty offenses, and drug offenses (see our blog post about sealing drug convictions) are subject to specific time requirements. Even if your petition isn’t subject to a certain time requirement, the amount of time that has passed since a charge or conviction can help you.

If my petition is denied, can I try again?

You may file a petition with the court for sealing of each case once every twelve-month period.

Can I just file the papers and wait to hear from the court?

Petitioning to have records sealed is an unfairly complicated process. Even if you are eligible, your petition may be promptly denied due to a technical error. If you are granted a hearing on the matter, you must give proper notice to certain parties. You may have to deal with an objecting prosecutor or victim at the hearing. If your petition is granted, you must then take certain steps in order for the sealing to actually take place. It is a good idea to consult an attorney to help you through this process.

[1] Colo. Rev. Stat. §24-72-702.

[2] Colo. Rev. Stat. §24-72-708.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this blog should be construed as legal advice from The Eichner Law Firm or the individual author, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this blog should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this blog without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.