Having a criminal record can permanently affect your life. Many businesses will avoid hiring people with criminal records. Landlords may not rent to you. As long as you have a criminal record, your options in life can be quite limited.
However, that doesn’t have to be the case. Recent legislation in Colorado has significantly expanded the pool of people eligible to have their criminal records sealed. This can help you get your life back on track in no time at all.
How Criminal Record Sealing Works
Your criminal record is a collection of information regarding your interactions with law enforcement and the justice system. Your state stores this information to use for things like background checks and penalties for potential future convictions.
While criminal records were originally physical files, they are now stored in online databases where law enforcement and background check agencies from around the country can access them far more easily.
Working with an attorney to seal your criminal record is an efficient way to remove your criminal records from these databases. As a result, any sealed convictions or arrests no longer show up on background checks.
Furthermore, if your record is sealed, you can legally deny that you have a criminal record at all. Your past mistakes essentially no longer exist. This saves you from significant bias when it comes to getting work, renting a home, getting loans, and more.
Not everyone is eligible to have their record sealed, though.
Who’s Eligible to Have Their Criminal Record Sealed?
As of 2019, Colorado has significantly increased the number of people who can have their records sealed. In particular, the bill HB19-1275 has given people convicted of drug offenses a new lease on life.
Today in Colorado, you may be eligible to have your record automatically sealed if:
- You were completely acquitted and the case was dismissed;
- You completed a diversion agreement;
- You completed deferred adjudication and all charges were dismissed.
If you have done any of these things and you still have a criminal record on file, you should work with an attorney to have it sealed.
You can petition to have your record sealed if:
- You have any petty offense on file and it has been one year since the final judgment or since you have been released from supervision.
- You have a drug misdemeanor or a class 2 or 3 misdemeanor and it’s been two years since you have been released from supervision.
- You have a level 1 misdemeanor, a level 3 or 4 drug felony, or a class 4 through class 6 felony, and it’s been three years since you have been released from supervision.
- You have any other eligible offense on record and it has been 5 years since you’ve been released from supervision.
A very important note, however, class 1 through 3 felonies and class 1 drug felonies are not eligible for criminal record sealing.
Also, for any offense greater than a petty offense, the district attorney can object to your record being sealed. In that case, you will be summoned to a hearing regarding your sealing.
Working with an attorney in either of these more complicated cases can also help you minimize the chance of an objection, as well as help the potential hearing go more smoothly.
How to Seal Your Record
In order to have your record sealed in Colorado, you need to file a petition. This petition covers a specific arrest and the events which follow it. If you have multiple arrests you would like to have sealed, you will need to file a unique petition for each one.
Each petition you file must include the complete case report number, case number, and arrest numbers from the arrest or criminal record. These are held at the agencies that made the arrest. There are several petition forms you may need to fill out depending on your circumstances. You will need to turn in a copy for the court, along with a copy for every law enforcement agency involved.
While working with an attorney is not required in order to file a petition for record sealing, it can help you ensure that you turn in the correct forms with the appropriate information. If you have turned in incorrect forms or information, the petition may be denied without a hearing.
If you have turned in the paperwork correctly, then the court will review your case and you will be informed if the petition has been denied, approved, or if there will be a hearing.
Your attorney can also help you navigate the hearing process and help you fight the district attorney to have your record sealed if needed.
Having a criminal record is a mark that can haunt you for as long as it exists. Sealing your record can help you get your life back. If you have questions about sealing your record, don’t hesitate to reach out to a qualified attorney who can help you help yourself.
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 & 2019” and a “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012-2020 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. Additionally, Expertise names her to its lists of the 25 Best Denver DUI Lawyers and 21 Best Denver Criminal Defense Lawyers, both in 2020. Ms. Diego has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.