So you’ve been charged with a crime. As you prepare for trial, you likely have penalties like jail time or heavy fees on your mind. What many people don’t realize, though, is that even once they have served their time, they will still face the surprisingly impactful consequence of lugging around a criminal record.
Why is this a big deal?
Criminal records are public online. Anyone – from an employer to a first date – can search your name and dig up some dirt. Even if you were not convicted of a crime, a search result on the Public Court Records Search may reveal your past indiscretion and turn someone off immediately.
It’s not just about the embarrassment of being labeled a “criminal” either. A criminal record can bar you from a lot of opportunities. Many jobs automatically turn down applicants with criminal records. At best, landlords will put your name at the bottom of their list of potential tenants. It can even be harder to qualify for loans.
If you’ve served your time and have maintained a clean record, a mistake shouldn’t hold you back for decades, but that’s exactly what happens to a lot of people. Luckily, there is a way to wipe your record clean and get a fresh start. Coloradoans have the chance to seal their criminal record.
How Does Criminal Record Sealing Work in Denver?
Individuals who are eligible may be able to have their criminal records sealed. When that happens, your records will be hidden from the general public.
What does that mean? A sealed criminal record will still be visible to law enforcement officers and certain organizations, and will still have an effect on sentencing if you are convicted of a second or third offense.
However, regular people won’t just be able to peek into your past with a quick search – including landlords, employers, and others. Because of this, you will have many more opportunities open up to you.
How does record sealing differ from having your record expunged?
If your record is expunged, it is destroyed forever. This option, though, is only available to those who committed a crime before they turned 18. Learn more about applying for expungement of juvenile records here.
How to Get Your Criminal Record Sealed
Not everyone can get their record sealed. Typically, records can be sealed for individuals who were arrested and charged, but not convicted, of a crime. If new evidence proves an offender’s innocence, or the case ended in a plea bargain, the crime may also qualify an offender for criminal record sealing.
A conviction of certain crimes, including drug offenses, may also make you eligible for record sealing. However, you might have to wait 10 years – during which you commit no additional crimes – before you can apply to have your record sealed. For a more in-depth list of the crimes eligible for sealing, click here.
If you qualify to have your record sealed, congratulations! You are one step closer to a clean criminal record.
To move forward, you must fill out a Petition to Seal Arrest Records with your District Court. There are some fees involved with filing this petition.
The court may grant the petition without a hearing, although you might have to attend a hearing and testify as to why your record should be sealed.
While you can represent yourself during this process, Colorado has very specific rules for filling out the petition. This is an opportunity that you do not want to mess up.
Consult a Denver expungement attorney as you begin this process to ensure the approval of your petition, and a brighter future with a sealed or expunged record.
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 and 2013 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.