Everyone makes mistakes. Some mistakes are minor, while others carry a bit more weight. But after any mistake, we want to learn from it and move on.
For those who have made a mistake with the law, it can be difficult to move on – because a criminal record follows you everywhere. Not only is it embarrassing, it can make once simple things in your life harder. When applying for a job, a place to live, for college, and in other situations, the people in charge of deciding your fate can easily find your criminal record by doing a background check. Technically you can explain your situation and they may overlook your past, but all too often people aren’t even given that chance. There’s a stigma associated with a criminal record, and it’s hard to shake.
That’s where expungement comes in. You’ve probably heard of expungement – or criminal record sealing – and think it might be an option for you. Unfortunately in Colorado – even if you’ve paid your dues – it’s rare to get your criminal record expunged.
Here are Colorado’s rules on sealing your criminal record.
Expungement Possible – If You Were Not Convicted
If you were not convicted of a crime, you can petition to have your criminal record expunged as long as one of the following is true:
- You were arrested for a crime but not charged.
- The charges against you were dismissed.
- You were found “not guilty” of the charges against you.
The exceptions to this rule deal with plea agreements. If your case was dismissed due to a plea agreement from another case or you weren’t charged due to a plea agreement from another case, you can’t have your record sealed. Also, if you didn’t meet all the conditions of your sentence, you can’t have your record sealed.
Additionally, you can’t have your record sealed for:
- Class A or B traffic infractions
- Class 1 or 2 misdemeanor traffic offenses
- DUI convictions
- Unlawful sexual behavior convictions
- Convictions involving a commercial driver’s license holder or a commercial motor vehicle operator
Expungement of Controlled Substances Offenses
It may be possible to get a controlled substance offense expunged under certain circumstances. Under the below requirements, though, many individuals will still have several more years to wait before they become eligible. Here’s how it breaks down.
If you were convicted of a controlled substances offense between July 1, 2008 and July 1, 2011, you may be able to petition to have your criminal record sealed if:
- It has been at least 10 years since the criminal proceedings against you have ended, or since your release from supervision regarding a criminal conviction, and
- You have not been charged with or convicted of another crime during that 10-year time frame
If you were convicted of a controlled substances offense after July 1, 2011, you may be able to petition to have your criminal record sealed if:
- The conviction was for a petty offense or a Class 2 or 3 misdemeanor and it has been 3 years since the criminal proceedings have ended or your release from supervision regarding a criminal conviction.
- The conviction was for a Class 1 misdemeanor and it has been 5 years since the criminal proceedings have ended or your release from supervision regarding a criminal conviction.
- The conviction was for a Class 5 or 6 felony drug possession offense and it has been 7 years since the criminal proceedings have ended or your release from supervision regarding a criminal conviction
- The conviction was for another offense and it has been 10 years since the criminal proceedings have ended or your release from supervision regarding a criminal conviction
Depending on the type of controlled substance offense, there may be some limitations to what specifically can and cannot be expunged.
DNA Evidence or Biological Substance Record Expungement
If DNA or other biological substance was collected from you during a criminal investigation, you may be able to petition to have that evidence sealed in certain situations, such as:
- If the charges against you were dismissed
- If you were acquitted of the criminal charges
- If the charges resulted in a non-felony conviction
If you believe that your criminal record can be sealed and want to move forward with a petition, you should consider contacting an experienced expungement attorney who can guide you through the complicated process. A qualified attorney can help you file the necessary petitions and offer advice on whether your situation warrants an expungement and whether that expungement is likely to be granted. Depending on where your charges were filed – especially in Denver – you may have specific requirements you need to follow in order to correctly file your petition.
If you’re looking to expunge a juvenile record instead of an adult record, a criminal defense attorney can provide counsel for that process as well.
If your criminal record is preventing you from living your life, contact an attorney today to see how they can help.
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.