We get it – kids make mistakes. If your child has an arrest or conviction on their record, it does not mean they are a bad kid. They simply made a poor choice and ended up paying the price.
But now they have learned their lesson. And they’re ready to get an education or a job and move on: after all, they have their whole life ahead of them.
Unfortunately, having an arrest or a conviction on your record can make your child’s chances at succeeding a whole lot less likely. Background checks and even internet searches may turn up their past, which tends to turn employers, landlords, and others off – even if your child’s brush with the law was minor and occurred a long time ago.
As a parent, it’s frustrating to watch your child work hard to better themselves only to be turned away again and again. You may find yourself wishing that your child’s records would just go away.
Well, I’ve got some good news for you. While it’s not possible to permanently delete your child’s record or make it completely disappear, you may be able to expunge or seal that record.
Doing this will make your child’s past convictions and arrests invisible in background checks. And because they don’t show up, they won’t impede your child’s chances at getting a job or a scholarship. They will be judged on their current merits.
Not all crimes can be expunged, but criminal record sealing is possible for many juveniles who have done their time and proven themselves to be rehabilitated.
Let’s talk details.
What Records Does Colorado Allow to Be Expunged?
If your child commits a crime after their 18th birthday, it will be harder to have their records expunged, but Colorado makes specific exceptions for minors who want to move on with a clean slate. Underage offenders may be able to have their parents petition to have their records sealed on their behalf.
What crimes qualify? Most crimes and arrest records can be expunged, unless your child:
- Was found to be an aggravated or violent juvenile offender
- Was convicted of an offense that was classified as an adult crime of violence
- Was convicted of an unlawful sexual offense
So if your child was arrested on minor drug charges, for example, you can petition for an order of expungement. If, however, your child was convicted of sexual assault, the conviction must stay on their criminal record.
If your child was charged with a crime and found not guilty, they may ask for the arrest record to be expunged immediately. Otherwise, Colorado requires you to wait a certain amount of time before petitioning for an order of expungement:
- You must wait one year after your child completed a juvenile diversion program or informal adjustment.
- You must wait one year if your child was contacted by law enforcement, but there was no referral or further action taken against your child.
- You must wait four years after your child completed their court or parole supervision or commitment to the Department of Human Services.
- You must wait ten years if your child was convicted of multiple or repeat offenses.
In that time frame, your child must not be arrested or convicted of another crime. This additional offense will provide a strong argument against your child getting their record sealed.
The Process of Expunging Your Child’s Record
To begin this process, you must file the appropriate petition to a juvenile court requesting an order of expungement. There is no fee to file this petition.
The court will then set a date for a hearing on the petition. During the hearing, a judge will determine if the order should be granted based on the following criteria:
- Your child has not been adjudicated for another juvenile offense or convicted of another felony or misdemeanor since the end of their court or parole supervision.
- There are no criminal or delinquency proceedings pending against your child.
- The child has been rehabilitated.
- Expungement is in the best interests of both the child and the community.
Keep in mind that when your child’s record is expunged, it will still be available to district attorneys, law enforcement agencies, and the Department of Human Services. Past convictions may still be revealed in court and affect future convictions or sentencing.
How a Lawyer Can Help Expunge Your Child’s Record
Expungement is not always granted to juveniles. If the order is not granted, you will have to wait 12 months to file another petition. When your child enters the courtroom, they will need to confidently prove to a judge that they are both rehabilitated and that expungement is best for the community at large.
An experienced criminal defense lawyer will be able to counsel and coach your child and give them the defense they need to get their record expunged. This is a hearing that may affect the rest of your child’s life: a knowledgeable lawyer is a worthwhile investment in your child’s future.
For more information about getting your child’s record expunged or providing strong legal representation for your child, contact a Colorado criminal defense lawyer.
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 2012-2016 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.