February 21, 2024
Even in states like Colorado that have decriminalized many drugs in specific amounts, drug convictions can haunt you for years.
Whenever anyone does a background check on you for a new job, housing, or even a loan, they will see convictions on your record, and you could lose opportunities long after you’ve served your debt to society. That’s why criminal record sealing exists in Colorado, but it’s essential to understand what types of convictions can be sealed and cannot.
Here is what you need to know about sealing drug offenses in Colorado.
What Does It Mean to Seal a Drug Conviction
The process of sealing or expunging criminal records varies from state to state. Sealing occurs when an adult criminal record gets hidden from public view. After your criminal record gets sealed, you no longer have to answer in the affirmative when asked on applications if you have a criminal record. Also, background checks done by the public, such as a potential employer, will not show a sealed criminal record, though it will still be available to law enforcement agencies.
What Colorado Law Says About Sealing Drug Convictions
In Colorado, a distinction occurs between drug offenses before July 1, 2011, and those that occurred afterward. If you have a drug conviction on your record you want to get sealed that happened before then, there are other things to know – so it’s always best to consult with an attorney.
Individuals with drug convictions on their record who want to get it sealed must wait for a period. That’s because a certain amount of time has to pass before you can petition the court to seal your record. The time depends on the type of drug crime you’d like sealed.
If you get convicted of a petty drug offense, you must wait one year after your conviction to petition the court to seal your record.
Class 2 or 3 Drug Misdemeanor and Level 2 Drug Misdemeanor
If you get convicted of a Class 2 or 3 drug misdemeanor or a Level 2 drug misdemeanor, then the minimum time you must wait to petition the court to seal your record is three years.
Class 1 or Level 1 Drug Misdemeanor
For a Class 1 or Level 1 drug misdemeanor, the minimum wait time to petition the court after the final disposition of the criminal proceedings related to the crime is five years.
Felony Drug Convictions
For felony drug cases such as Class 5 drug possession or Level 4 drug felonies, the current time you must wait for your record to get sealed is seven years.
For any convictions related to marijuana possession after December 10, 2012, in Colorado, you can immediately petition the court to seal your criminal record.
Being able to erase your past is a big deal, and it’s great that Colorado offers this option to those with certain drug offenses on their criminal records. However, you should meet with an attorney experienced in having drug offenses sealed to ensure you follow all the necessary steps to get it done right and are on the correct timeline for your particular offense.
About the Author:
Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been recognized by countless legal organizations for his exemplary defense work, including Avvo, Best DWI Attorneys, Expertise, Lawyers of Distinction, The National Trial Lawyers, and others. He was also named one of the 10 Best in Client Satisfaction in Colorado by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys for 2020, and is Lead Counsel rated.