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. However, here is a quick guide to which records may be sealed in Colorado:
- All charges were dismissed or the Defendant was acquitted of all charges.
- There is only an arrest record and no charges were filed in a Court.
- The Defendant had a case that was dismissed due to a plea agreement in another case and 10 or more years have passed from the final disposition of all criminal proceedings and no additional criminal charges since the date of the final disposition of all criminal proceedings have been filed against the Defendant.
Despite the above, a successfully completed deferred judgement on any sex offense cannot be sealed, pursuant to recently decided case M.T. v. People.
Sealing of Criminal Records of Convictions in Drug Cases: Convictions Entered On or After July 1, 2011
You are eligible to file a petition to seal if:
Petty Drug Offense + occurring on or after October 1, 2013 = eligible to file IF one or more years have passed since your sentence was completed
Class 2 or 3 Drug Misdemeanor or Level 2 or Level 3 Drug Misdemeanor + occurring on or after October 1, 2013 = eligible to file IF three years have passed since your sentence was completed
Class 2 Drug Misdemeanor or Level 1 Drug Misdemeanor + occurring on or after October 1, 2013 = eligible to file IF five years have passed since your sentence was completed
Class 5 Drug Felony or Class 6 Felony Drug Possession or Level 4 Drug Felony = eligible to file IF seven years have passed since your sentence was completed.
All other drug offenses = eligible to file IF ten years have passed since your sentence was completed
Sealing of Criminal Records of Convictions in Drug Cases: Convictions Entered Before July 1, 2011
You can petition for sealing, so long as you meet the qualifications listed above, and the prosecuting attorney does not object to the petition.
Sealing of Municipal Offense or Petty Offense Convictions, entered on or after July 1, 2013
SB 13-123 recently was passed and signed by Governor Hickenlooper. This bill essentially expands what convictions can be sealed, applying only to convictions entered on or after July 1, 2013. Depending upon the severity and classification of the offense sought to be sealed, one must wait a specified amount of time following the discharge of sentence prior to filing a petition to seal.
For a petty offense or municipal court offense, the petition may be filed three years after the release of the defendant from supervision or final disposition of all charges, whichever is later. If the district attorney objects, the court will set the matter for the hearing. If the district attorney does not object, the petition will be granted without a hearing.
To file for sealing of such a charge, you must not have been charged with any felony, misdemeanor, or misdemeanor traffic offense in the time since your case was resolved.
Sealing of Criminal Conviction Records After 8.2.19
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. However, these changes do not go into effect until August 2, 2019.
Who is now eligible?
In addition to the cases that were eligible under previous law, the following convictions are now eligible:
- Convictions for Class 2 Misdemeanors, Class 3 Misdemeanors, 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 five 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, 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 case will be eligible for sealing after August 2, 2019, please do not hesitate to contact criminal defense lawyer Kimberly Diego for an evaluation of your eligibility to petition the Court for record removal.
If I was Convicted of Something that is not a Drug Offense, a Municipal Offense, or a Petty Offense, Can It Be Sealed?
No, unfortunately the law would not allow for such a conviction to be sealed.
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 judgement – success is very likely.
In those cases involving drug 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 drug 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.