A criminal record can cast a shadow over your life, affecting job prospects, housing opportunities, and even personal relationships. If you’ve been through a criminal case in Colorado and are looking to move forward with a clean slate, you’re in luck. Colorado provides avenues for individuals to clear their records, giving them a chance to rebuild their lives. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the process of expungement and sealing of criminal records in Colorado.
Understanding Expungement and Sealing
Expungement and sealing are legal processes that allow individuals to restrict public access to their criminal records, thereby giving them the opportunity to regain control over their reputation. While they serve similar purposes, there are key differences between the two:
Expungement is the complete erasure of a criminal record as if the arrest and conviction never occurred. In Colorado, however, expungement is limited to cases where there was a wrongful arrest or conviction, or when a person was a victim of identity theft.
Sealing a record means restricting public access to it, essentially hiding it from most background checks. Sealing is more common and available for a broader range of cases, including instances where you successfully completed a diversion program, had charges dismissed, or were acquitted.
Steps to Clear Your Record in Colorado
- Determine Eligibility. To initiate the process, determine whether you are eligible for expungement or sealing based on the specific circumstances of your case. Consulting with an attorney can help you understand the eligibility criteria and the best path forward.
- Obtain Necessary Documents: Gather all the necessary documents related to your criminal case, such as court orders, disposition records, and certificates of completion for any diversion programs you participated in.
- File a Petition. For sealing or expungement, you’ll need to file a petition with the court where the case was handled. The forms required vary based on the type of case, so it’s recommended to seek legal assistance to ensure you’re filling out the correct forms accurately.
- Serve Notice. Depending on the type of case, you may need to serve notice to various parties involved, including law enforcement agencies, the district attorney’s office, and others. This gives them an opportunity to object to the sealing or expungement if they believe there are compelling reasons to do so.
- Attend a Hearing. In some cases, a hearing may be required to review your petition. This is an opportunity for you to present your case and explain why your record should be sealed or expunged. Having legal representation during the hearing can be immensely beneficial.
- Await the Court Decision. After the hearing (if required), the court will make a decision regarding your petition. If your request is approved, your criminal record will either be sealed or expunged, depending on the type of case and the eligibility criteria.
Benefits of Clearing Your Record
Clearing your criminal record can have a positive impact on various aspects of your life:
- Employment Opportunities. Many employers conduct background checks before hiring. With a sealed or expunged record, you have a better chance of securing employment without the stigma of a criminal history.
- Housing. Landlords and property management companies often screen potential tenants. A cleared record can increase your chances of finding suitable housing.
- Financial Aid and Education. Some educational institutions and scholarship programs consider criminal records during the application process. A clean record can help you pursue educational opportunities without hindrance.
- Peace of Mind. Perhaps the most significant benefit is the peace of mind that comes from leaving your past behind and focusing on a brighter future.
Clearing your criminal record in Colorado is a step toward reclaiming your reputation and moving forward with a fresh start. The process involves legal intricacies, so seeking guidance from an experienced attorney is highly recommended. With determination, the right legal assistance, and an understanding of the eligibility criteria, you can navigate the path to a cleaner record and a brighter future.
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 & 2019-2022” and a “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012-2022 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 2020-2022. Ms. Diego has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.