Most people think they know for sure whether they have a criminal record in Colorado.
When you’ve never been convicted of a crime, it’s easy to assume the answer is no, you do not have a criminal record. If you’ve never spent a day in court, you’ll probably think the same.
Surprisingly, these facts don’t necessarily eliminate the possibility altogether.
It’s true; In Colorado, you can have a criminal record without ever being charged with or found guilty of a crime. Let’s zoom in on how that’s even possible.
When Interactions with Police Land on Your CO Criminal History
As soon as you are arrested, the courts have your fingerprints and photograph on file, officially giving you a record. Even juveniles can have a record that they are unaware of because of simply being accused of a crime.
Minor things that you haven’t given a second thought to could wind up on your criminal history.
For example, remember that time you got into a bar fight? That meaningless incident that simply ended in your release actually means you could, in fact, have a record.
Other infractions could include an oral argument with a significant other (if someone called the cops), that outstanding warrant from unpaid traffic tickets, or perhaps you were charged with petty theft but found not guilty.
How Do You Find Out Whether You Have a Criminal Record in Colorado?
If you have questions about whether a particular run-in may be on your record, and you are unsure how to check, reach out to an experienced Colorado criminal defense attorney, and ask.
Why bother checking? Because your unknown record could be affecting your life in Colorado.
Your Unknown Record Could Be Affecting Your Life in Colorado
Many people who have a record let it sit there, in the public eye, because they don’t even know it exists. Having a record that you are completely unaware of can damage both your personal and professional life.
Who Can See Your Record?
Almost anybody with the slightest bit of interest can view your record because it is technically a public document.
Potential employers running that background check can find out you have a criminal record, even before you do. Likewise, when you applying for an apartment or other housing, it may show up there, as well. Applying for a loan or line of credit often requires a glance at your criminal record, too.
Really, in the present digital age, anyone (girlfriend, family member, etc.) who is interested in your past can find out if you have a criminal record for a small fee.
Do yourself a favor and be the first to know. Also, know you may have options for clearing your name.
Clearing Your Colorado Criminal Record
If you confirm you do have a criminal record, there is hope. Filing the correct paperwork and petitioning the court may be the answer. There is a chance you qualify to have your record expunged.
Sealing Your Record in Colorado
In Colorado, petitioning to have your “record sealed” is the same as having it “expunged.” Upon completion of this process, your record is no longer available to the public. Instead, it’s accessible only by law enforcement and the court.
Furthermore, Colorado just made it easier to have your criminal record sealed. Here are the current circumstances in which record-sealing is an option:
- All charges were dismissed
- You were acquitted of all charges
- There is only an arrest record (no charges were filed)
- The case was dismissed as a result of the defendant’s subsequent plea bargain
Nearly a quarter of the U.S. population has a criminal record, and this history can follow you for the rest of your life. Because a criminal record can negatively impact your life make doubly sure you don’t have a record and if you do, get it expunged as soon as you can if it’s an option.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012 and 2013 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.