Arson charges in Colorado carry severe legal consequences, making it imperative to have a comprehensive understanding of the legal landscape and available defense strategies. Being accused of intentionally setting fire to property can be overwhelming and distressing, but with the right knowledge and legal guidance, you can effectively navigate the complexities of the criminal justice system. We aim to empower individuals facing these serious allegations by exploring key aspects of
A criminal conviction may prevent you from obtaining employment or housing. While criminal records used to be fairly well-kept secrets, modern “background check” technology makes your record widely and easily accessible to almost anyone in a matter of seconds. If you seal your record, it will no longer be visible to the public in such “background checks”. However, it will remain visible to the Court, law enforcement, and criminal justice agencies.
Unfortunately, not all criminal records can be sealed. The following types of cases can be sealed easily, either by filing a motion or petition to seal in the jurisdiction where charges were originally investigated or filed, and paying a small filing fee:
- All charges were dismissed.
- The Defendant was acquitted of all charges at trial.
- There is only an arrest record, and no charges were filed in Court.
- Defendant successfully completed a pre-trial diversion agreement.
- Defendant successfully completed a deferred judgment.
Despite the above, a successfully completed deferred judgment on any sex offense cannot be sealed, pursuant to M.T. v. People.
Sealing of Municipal Offenses or Municipal Court Convictions
Municipal courts are smaller courthouses dealing only with lower-level violations dictated by city code or ordinance as opposed to state-wide laws.
Municipal court convictions can be sealed three years after the completion of the sentence. So, if you are sentenced to one year of probation, you would need to wait at least three years after the date you finish that one year of probation to file your request for record sealing.
It is important to note that if you have since being convicted in the municipal case, been charged or convicted with any misdemeanor or felony offense, you will not be eligible to seal your municipal conviction record.
It is also important to make sure you have totally paid off your court costs and any restitution before requesting to have your conviction sealed, as any outstanding balance would make you ineligible have your record cleaned up.
Sealing of Criminal Conviction Records
In 2019, the Colorado Legislature enacted sweeping new legislation changing which cases would be eligible for sealing – significantly expanding eligibility for record removal. This change will make many who previously were prejudiced by a criminal conviction eligible for sealing.
Who is now eligible?
In addition to the cases that were eligible under previous law, referenced above, the following convictions are now eligible:
- Convictions for Class 2 Misdemeanors, Class 3 Misdemeanors, and any Drug Misdemeanors. These cases may be sealed two years after the completion of any sentence imposed in the case.
- Convictions for Class 4 Felonies, Class 5 Felonies, Class 6 Felonies, Level 3 Drug Felonies, Level 4 Drug Felonies, Class 1 Misdemeanors. These cases may be sealed three years after the completion of any sentence imposed in the case.
- Any other convictions can be sealed three years after the completion of any sentence imposed, except that the following crimes are never eligible for record sealing:
class 1 or class 2 misdemeanor traffic offenses, class a or class b traffic infractions, drug distribution offenses, DUI convictions, any sexual offenses, child abuse, any sentences involving extraordinary aggravating circumstances, extraordinary risk crimes, crimes involving pregnant victims, special offender crimes, domestic violence offenses, cruelty to animals, crimes of violence, any level 1 drug felony, any class 1, 2, or 3 felony, murder, manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, vehicular homicide, assault in the first, second, or third degree, vehicular assault, menacing, kidnapping, sexual assault, unlawful sexual contact, Invasion of privacy for sexual gratification, robbery, incest, child abuse, sexual exploitation of children, crimes against at-risk adults or at-risk juveniles, domestic violence cases, stalking, any bias-motivated crime, careless driving, that results in the death of another person; failure to stop at the scene of an accident, where the accident results in the death of another person; retaliation against a witness or victim, tampering with a witness or victim, Indecent exposure, human trafficking, first degree burglary, retaliation against a judge, retaliation against a prosecutor, retaliation against a juror, child prostitution, procurement of a child for sexual exploitation, pimping of a child, inducement of child prostitution, patronizing a prostituted child.
You can only petition to have your criminal records to be sealed once in any twelve month period.
What does the Court consider in deciding whether or not to seal your record?
In any petition to seal a criminal conviction, it is critical that you not have been charged with and convicted of any criminal offenses in the period since the resolution of your case to provide you with the best opportunity for success. You will be required to submit a current criminal history along with your application for sealing.
In the sealing of less serious convictions, the Court needs only to consider whether you are eligible to seal.
In sealing of more serious convictions, the position of the prosecuting attorney will be sought. If they object, your case will be set for a hearing. If they do not object, the case likely will resolve without a hearing – except in the most serious of cases, which require a hearing. The court will consider several factors in considering whether or not to grant your request to seal, including the severity of the underlying offense, your criminal history, the number of convictions sought to be sealed, and the need for the prosecuting agency to retain your criminal records.
What happens if you are charged with a new offense after your case has been sealed?
If you are convicted of any new offense after your case has been sealed, the law will require your previously sealed records to be unsealed.
If you have any questions about whether or not your conviction is eligible for record sealing, please do not hesitate to contact criminal defense lawyer Kimberly Diego for an evaluation of your eligibility to petition the Court for record removal.
Can a Dismissed DUI be Sealed?
It depends. If any other traffic offenses were charged alongside DUI in the dismissed case, then it probably can’t be sealed. However, some courts have determined that a dismissed DUI can be sealed so long as all charges in the case have also been dismissed. Prosecutors do routinely object to the sealing of a DUI charge under all circumstances, and these petitions are often denied by the Court without even holding a hearing.
However, if all charges were dismissed, there may be an argument for sealing and it is certainly worth an attempt, so long as the uncertainties of the process are understood.
Will My Petition to Seal Be Successful?
It is not possible for an attorney to guarantee results in any particular case. However, so long as your case is eligible for sealing, and your case falls under the first category of sealable cases – those that were dismissed outright or due to a successfully completed deferred judgment – success is very likely.
In those cases involving convictions, success is somewhat less likely and will depend upon numerous factors including the facts of your case, and the jurisdiction in which your petition must be filed. Those petitions tend to actually be litigated at a hearing due to the frequency of district attorneys’ filing of objections in such cases involving criminal convictions being sought to be sealed.
How Do I Seal My Criminal Records?
When attempting to seal your criminal record, it is best to speak to an attorney experienced in handling such petitions. If your petition is not handled appropriately, and the paperwork properly filled out and all procedures followed with precision, your petition may be denied or the sealing itself may be incomplete.
Additionally, an appearance is typically unnecessary in a petition to seal given that hearings are usually vacated several days before they are scheduled. Should an appearance be necessary, as it is in several jurisdictions in Colorado, an attorney can appear on your behalf.
The Law Office of Kimberly Diego has handled hundreds of these petitions successfully and can efficiently do so for you for a reasonable flat fee.
If you want your criminal record sealed, call Kimberly now at (720) 257-5346 for a FREE 45-minute consultation.