Unless you seal or expunge your record, it will always remain a public record. Anyone who does a simple internet search can see when and what you were arrested for and the disposition of your case. Most people would like to keep this part of their lives a secret as it may be rather embarrassing.
Your criminal record may come up in job applications, home loans, scholarship or college applications, and applications for firearms purchases, and it might affect social relationships. Your criminal past does not have to impact your future and limit your freedom negatively. Criminal record sealing or expungement allows you to put much of your past behind you and move forward. When your criminal record is sealed, the general public will not be able to access it. However, certain government entities will still be able, at certain times and under certain conditions, to view the contents of your record.
When your record is expunged or sealed, government agencies that would have had access to it will be told that it has been expunged or sealed, and, absent a court order, they would not be able to view your record. Our Denver criminal defense attorneys represent the legal rights and goals of those who may be eligible for criminal record sealing or expungement in Denver and throughout the State of Colorado.
Although the terms are occasionally, and incorrectly, used interchangeably, expunging a record refers to trying to clean up a criminal record that arose prior to your 18th birthday while sealing refers to the process of cleaning up criminal records that occurred as an adult. Another important difference between sealing and expunging is the effect that the order to seal or expunge would have – expunging is more closely related to ‘destroying’ the records while sealing is more commonly associated with ‘concealing’ the records.
Don’t let a criminal record hurt your future. Our attorneys will aggressively fight for those who deserve the right to make progress and grow in their careers and lives. Criminal record sealing or expunging of misdemeanors or felony offenses can help you move forward and far away from your criminal past.
Over the past several years, the laws regarding expunging and sealing criminal records have changed significantly.
Permitting juvenile records to be expunged makes sense in our society. It shows that we generally do not want people to be held back for the rest of their life based on a decision they made when they were a juvenile – a decision made before a person’s cerebral cortex and the rest of their brain fully develop.
Generally, the question of whether, and when, a juvenile record can be expunged comes down to how the case was resolved. It is also imperative that you have paid all the fines/fees in the case and that you, at the time you are trying to expunge your record, do not have any cases pending against you. Some cases may be expunged immediately, others require that you wait 1 or 3 years before you start the expunging process.
You are not eligible to petition for an expungement order if:
1. You were adjudicated for a felony offense involving unlawful sexual behavior as defined in §16-22-102(9), C.R.S.; or
2. You were adjudicated an aggravated juvenile offender pursuant to §19-2-516(4), C.R.S.; or
3. You were adjudicated a violent juvenile offender pursuant to §19-2-516(3), C.R.S.; or
4. You were adjudicated of homicide and related offense pursuant to part 1 of article 3 of title 18; or
5. You were charged, adjudicated, or convicted of any offense or infraction pursuant to title 42.
Further, it is also important to keep in mind when assessing whether you should try and expunge case that all of your court costs/fees must be paid, in full, before starting the process and you may not be able to proceed if you have been charged with or convicted of certain offenses after resolving the case you are trying to expunge.
Our office will review your juvenile case records and help provide you with insight on whether your juvenile case is eligible to be expunged or not. If eligible, we will be able to file the requisite documents in the court and represent you at a hearing if a hearing is set by the Court.
The process and the specific documents that must be filed in order to try and seal your criminal records depends on the type of record you have – on how the case resolved.
Different scenarios in which a case can be resolved include:
- Cited or Arrested but No Charges Filed
- Case Dismissed Outright or in accordance with a Diversion Agreement, Deferred Judgement or Other Type of Plea Agreement
- Acquittal at Trial
- County Court or District Court
It is imperative to note that the process for sealing Municipal Court convictions is different from the process for sealing County Court or District Court cases. Furthermore, only certain types of convictions can be sealed.
Convictions that generally cannot be sealed include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Class 1 or Class 2 misdemeanor traffic offenses (if they are the only charges in the case)
- Class A or Class B traffic infractions (if they are the only charges in the case)
- Alcohol related driving convictions
- Domestic Violence related offenses
- Sexually based offenses
- Class 1, 2, or 3 felonies and/ or Level 1 Drug Felonies
Even if your conviction is one that may be sealed, it may not be the right time to seal it – you may have to wait longer.
- Petty offenses and drug petty offenses – One or more years after the date of the final disposition or all criminal proceedings or release from supervision concerning a criminal conviction, whichever is later.
- Class 2 misdemeanors, class 3 misdemeanors, and any drug misdemeanor: Two or more years after the date of the final disposition or all criminal proceedings or release from supervision concerning a criminal conviction, whichever is later.
- Class 4 felonies, class 5 felonies, class 6 felonies, level 2 drug felonies, level 3 drug felonies, level 4 drug felonies, and class 1 misdemeanors: 3 or more years after the date of the final disposition or all criminal proceedings or release from supervision concerning a criminal conviction, whichever is later.
- Offenses committed by victims of human trafficking: Any time after conviction.
- All other offenses: 5 or more years after the date of the final disposition or all criminal proceedings or release from supervision concerning a criminal conviction, whichever is later.
- If your conviction appears to be one that cannot be sealed, there is an exception, what we call the “misdemeanor exception.” This exception can make otherwise ineligible misdemeanor convictions eligible to be sealed. A greater showing of your need to have the conviction sealed will need to be made in these scenarios.
A criminal or juvenile record can have a lasting impact. Long after a mistake was made, the record can linger on. It can make a difference in your employment options and educational opportunities, among other things. You may continually have to face the embarrassment of having to explain a youthful indiscretion or a moment’s lapse of judgement for years to come.
Our Denver criminal defense attorneys can change that through the sealing and expungement of criminal records. Contact our office today for a free legal consultation.