One of the most devastating consequences of a brush with the law which remains with you long after your case is closed is having a criminal record. A criminal record can affect nearly every aspect of your life, including employment, housing, and higher education.
Some offenders find relief in the form of criminal record sealing. This is when the court seals your record from public view, such that it’s no longer accessible and won’t show up on background checks.
Eligibility for the record sealing process has historically been highly selective, though, leaving many offenders unable to petition for record sealing.
Fortunately, Colorado just made it easier to seal your criminal records. Under the Increased Eligibility for Criminal Record Sealing Act, taking effect August 2019, there are newly-named offenses now eligible for criminal record sealing. Further, additional legislation has sought to limit employers’ inquiries into applicants’ criminal histories.
So, what does this law do for you?
Let’s take a look at how these laws impact the criminal record sealing process, and what you can do to maximize your chances of a successful petition.
Colorado Offenses Newly Eligible for Record Sealing
In addition to the cases eligible for record sealing under the current law, the following offenses are newly eligible:
- Class 2 Misdemeanors, Class 3 Misdemeanors, and Drug misdemeanors after two years
- Convictions for Class 4 Felonies, Class 5 Felonies, Class 6 Felonies, Level 3 Drug Felonies, Level 4 Drug Felonies and Class 1 Misdemeanors after five years
- Other convictions after three years
Most sex crimes, DUIs, Level 1 Drug Felonies, murder, and any Class 1, 2, or 3 Felony remain ineligible for sealing at this time. If you have specific questions regarding your personal criminal record, reach out to an experienced Colorado record sealing attorney for advice.
Limitations on Employment Inquiries in Colorado
The Colorado Chance to Compete Act, enacted in May 2019, also limits employer inquiries into job applicants’ criminal histories.
Under this legislation, employers aren’t allowed to require disclosure of an applicant’s criminal history on an initial employment application. Further, employers are prohibited from inquiring into, or requiring disclosure of, previously expunged or sealed offenses.
The Colorado Record Sealing Process
If you think that you may qualify for Colorado criminal record sealing, it’s highly advisable to begin the process of filing your petition. Sealing your criminal record will allow you to leave your past in the past, and pursue a fresh break at a new life.
If your offense qualifies, you’ll file a petition for record sealing with the court that originally heard your case. The court will then evaluate the petition, and either grant or deny the request.
Keep in mind, record sealing is not guaranteed, even if your offense meets the qualifications for record sealing.
A petition is just that — an application to the court, which can potentially be denied. Moreover, the record sealing process is complex, and many petitioners unknowingly make mistakes that decrease their chances of a successful petition.
Maximize the chance of your petition’s success by working with an expert Denver criminal defense attorney. A good lawyer will know the ins and outs of the record sealing process and will be able to put the odds of success in your favor.
Criminal record sealing is an important component of the criminal justice system, allowing rehabilitated former offenders to become more productive members of society. Taking the time to learn more about criminal record sealing is potentially life-changing.
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.