September 28, 2023
Having a charge or conviction your record doesn’t go away after you serve your time – or even if you are found innocent. In fact, even if you weren’t charged with a crime, if you were arrested that stays on your record.
This means that employers, landlords, and the public at large will all have access to it, which can make it quite difficult to live a normal life. Luckily, many people have the option of getting their criminal records sealed or expunged.
What Is Criminal Record Sealing?
Criminal record sealing allows you the freedom of hiding your criminal record from the public. Both adults and juveniles can apply to have their records sealed.
However, record sealing will not completely eliminate the existence of an individual’s record. Most access to records will be restricted, and you can legally tell employers, landlords, and so on that you do not have a criminal record, but the charges and convictions may still be used against you in court. If a government agency wants access to your sealed records, they will need to get a court order.
To start the process of record sealing, you must file a petition with the Colorado Judicial Branch, and the court will have a hearing to decide whether or not expungement is appropriate for your case. Before you file your petition, however, know whether or not the charges or convictions on your criminal record even qualify for expungement.
When Can I Petition for Record Sealing?
Generally speaking, you are more likely to get charges (rather than convictions) sealed. If the following apply to you, you may petition for expungement or record sealing:
- You were arrested but released and not charged
- Your case was dismissed
- You were charged but found ‘not guilty’
Of course, there are exceptions to the above conditions. You cannot petition to have your record sealed if you were arrested or charged for the following offenses:
- Class 1 or 2 misdemeanor traffic offenses
- Class A or B traffic infractions
You also cannot petition for record sealing if you have been convicted for the following:
- Driving under the influence
- Unlawful sexual behavior
- Offenses that involve the holder of a commercial driver’s license or a commercial motor vehicle
What about Drug Crimes?
In cases involving drug crimes, you may have to wait a few years until your record can be expunged. These limitations are determined by the time that you were convicted of the controlled substance offense.
If you were convicted between July 1, 2008 and July 1, 2011, you can petition to have your record expunged 10 years after criminal proceedings have ended or you were released from supervision. You can also only petition if you were not charged or convicted of a crime within that 10 years.
For crimes committed on or after July 1, 2011, you might not have to wait as long. Time limitations are determined by the type of conviction, but all of these times start the day criminal proceedings end or you are released from supervision:
- Class 2 or 3 Misdemeanor, Petty Offense: Three years
- Class 1 Misdemeanor: Five years
- Class 5 or 6 Felony Drug Possession Offense: Seven years
- Other controlled substance offenses: Ten years
If you qualify for record sealing or expungement, it is important to get started on your petition right away to ensure a timely expungement or sealing process. Contact a Colorado criminal defense lawyer today for a free legal consultation on the next steps to take after petitioning for expungement or record sealing.
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 designated a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers and has been awarded both the Avvo Client’s Choice Award and Avvo Top Attorney designation, evidencing his reputation for his exemplary criminal and DUI defense work and high moral standards.