Expungement & Record Sealing

As a general rule, criminal court records are public. That means anyone can go to the local courthouse and find out if someone’s ever been arrested for, charged with or convicted of a crime. In some states, though, there are ways to hide or even destroy a criminal record, so that almost no one can find out about an arrest or conviction.

The terms “expungement” and “sealing” are often used interchangeably when it comes to criminal records, but there are some differences. “Sealing” a criminal record is when a court file is hidden from the general public. “Expunging” a criminal record means that the record is completely destroyed; it’s as if the crime never happened. In essence, they’re the same thing: There are very limited circumstances when a sealed record may be looked at or when the defendant (the person arrested or convicted) has to tell someone that he has a prior arrest or conviction that’s been expunged.

The states have very different laws about sealing and expunging records. Some states don’t allow any records to be sealed or expunged. Some allow one or both, but they don’t allow either one for some crimes, like murder, kidnapping and sex-related crimes.

Oftentimes, if drugs are found in your possession you may be charged by law enforcement with drug sales (possession with intent to sell) as well, even if the drugs were for your own personal use. The differences in the criminal penalties that can be brought against you for drug crimes are extreme. You could be looking at a virtual slap on the wrist or a lifetime behind bars. Penalties for a drug charge are based on the type and amount of drug in your possession, intent to sell, or distribute, your past criminal arrests and the circumstances surrounding your case.

In the unfortunate circumstance that you have become entangled with the law due to a drug possession charge, you should hire a professional and qualified attorney. At the Law Offices of Bradley A. Stephenson, P.C. we are very qualified due to his legal credentials and experience within the courtroom and offer professional, yet aggressive representation.

A lawyer can make all the difference in your drug possession case. A lawyer will attempt to have the charges against you lowered or dismissed altogether. An experienced lawyer will fight for your constitutional rights and will do everything possible to keep you out of jail.

Below are the laws in Colorado that deal with expunging, sealing, or otherwise destroying or concealing criminal records. They may change at any time, so be sure to check the current laws for any changes. And the process itself is usually complicated. If you have any questions, an experienced criminal law attorney can give you the help and expertise you need.


Sealing Criminal Records – Record Seal

Over the last several years and, with the proliferation of information over the Internet, numerous companies engage in the business of accumulating and selling personal information, including arrest and criminal records. It is critical that you take every step to ensure that you seal your criminal record is not made available to the public.

Bradley A. Stephenson, P.C. is an experienced law firm providing effective legal representation throughout the state of Colorado. We have successfully sealed the criminal records in numerous cases and are confident that we can help you or someone you care about.


Not All Types Of Records Can Be Sealed

Generally, there are limited categories of sealable criminal records:

  • Records of dismissed cases (No Matter What Offense)
  • Records of cases involving some drug offenses
  • Records of petty offenses and municipal code violations
  • Juvenile record expungement,
  • Victims of sex trafficking
  • Posting Nude Photos on the Internet, and
  • Theft of public transportation offense

Dismissed Criminal Cases

You may seal arrest or criminal records for DISMISSED (NON-CONVICTION) RECORDS if you meet one of the following requirements:

  • All charges were dismissed or you were acquitted of all charges. This includes any cases where you successfully completed a deferred sentence or deferred prosecution;
  • There is only an arrest record and no charges were filed, AND the statute of limitations has expired;
  • You had a case that was dismissed due to a plea agreement in another case and more than 10 years have passed since the case was concluded and you have had no additional criminal charges.

In addition to the above, you will NOT qualify to seal your records if:

  • You have been convicted of a sexual offense as defined by C.R.S. §16-22-102(9); or
  • You still owe restitution, fines, court costs, late fees, or other fees ordered by the Court;

The offense pertains to a class 1 or class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense, or to a class A or class B traffic infraction, or a conviction for a violation of DUI or DWAI. (Dismissed DUI/DWAI cases MAY qualify for sealing)


Criminal Conviction Records (Some Drug Offenses)

In certain drug offense circumstances you may petition the court to seal a criminal conviction record if you meet the requirements listed below:

You may only petition the Court to seal criminal conviction records if the offense qualifies pursuant to statute and you meet the two requirements below:

  • Ten or more years have passed from the final disposition of all criminal proceedings against you or you have been released from supervision concerning a criminal conviction, whichever is later;

AND

  • You have not been charged or convicted for a criminal offense in the ten or more years since the date of the final disposition of all criminal proceedings or the date of your release from supervision, whichever is later.

OR

Pursuant to statute any person in interest may petition the District Court in the county in which the criminal conviction records are filed, this section applies to convictions entered on or after July 1, 2011.

You may only petition the Court to seal criminal conviction records if the offense qualifies pursuant to statute and you meet the requirements below:

You have not been charged or convicted for a criminal offense since the date of the final disposition of all criminal proceedings or the date of your release from supervision, whichever is later; and

  • Petty offense or Class 2 or 3 Misdemeanor — Three or more years have passed from the final disposition of all criminal proceedings against you or you have been released from supervision concerning a criminal conviction, whichever is later; or
  • Class 1 Misdemeanor — Five or more years have passed from the final disposition of all criminal proceedings against you or you have been released from supervision concerning a criminal conviction, whichever is later; or
  • Class 5 or 6 Felony — Seven or more years have passed from the final disposition of all criminal proceedings against you or you have been released from supervision concerning a criminal conviction, whichever is later; or
  • All other offenses in article 18 of title 18 — Ten or more years have passed from the final disposition of all criminal proceedings against you or you have been released from supervision concerning a criminal conviction, whichever is later.

 

You may not petition the Court to seal criminal conviction records if you still owe restitution, fines, court costs, late fees, or other fees ordered by the Court in the case being requested to seal, unless the court has vacated such order.

YOU ARE ELIGIBLE TO PETITION THE COURT TO SEAL A DRUG CONVICTION RECORD ONLY FOR THE FOLLOWING OFFENSES:

  1. Any petty offense in violation of article 18 of title 18;
  2. Any misdemeanor in violation of article 18 of title 18;
  3. Any class 5 or class 6 felony possession offense in violation of article 18 of title 18 as it existed prior to August 11, 2010, EXCEPT if the conviction was for the sale, manufacturing, or dispensing of a controlled substance as defined at §18-18-102(5), C,R,S, or attempt of those offenses or for possession with intent to manufacture, dispense or sell a controlled substance;
  4. Any offense that would be a class 5 or class 6 felony in violation of article 18 of title 18 if the offense were to have occurred on July 1, 2008.

Important Notes: 

  • An order sealing conviction records shall not be construed to vacate a conviction.
  • If you obtain a conviction of a new criminal offense after an order sealing conviction records is entered, the Court, on its own motion or upon the motion of any prosecuting attorney, shall order the conviction record to be unsealed.
  • The Court, law enforcement and criminal justice agencies, or prosecuting attorney for any lawful purpose relating to the investigation or prosecution of any case will always have access to the file. The files are not destroyed.
  • Upon the entry of an order to seal and an inquiry in the matter, you and all criminal justice agencies may properly respond that “no such conviction record exists with respect to such person”.
  • For additional information, please review §24-72-704, C.R.S. and §24-72-705, C.R.S. Source:  Official Colorado Judicial Website.

Record of Petty Offenses and Municipal Code Violations

To be eligible for sealing records of Petty Offenses and Municipal Offenses your conviction must be for:

Petty offense OR a Municipal Code (a city law) violation;

AND

Three (3) or more years have passed since the date of conviction AND the last day of court supervision (if any);

AND

You have NOT been charged or convicted of a Felony, Misdemeanor, or a Misdemeanor Traffic Offense in the three or more years since your conviction or last day of court supervision (if any);

AND

The conviction records to be sealed are NOT for a Misdemeanor Traffic Offense committed by a holder of a Commercial Driver’s License or Commercial Driver’s Learner’s Permit, or by the operator of a Commercial Motor Vehicle.

You may not petition the Court to seal criminal conviction records if you still owe restitution, fines, court costs, late fees, or other fees ordered by the Court in the case being requested to seal, unless the court has vacated such order.

It is your responsibility to obtain and pay for a current verified copy of your criminal history report from Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) that is valid 20 days prior to filing the Petition.

There is a extra filing fee of $200 charged by the courts for this type of sealing.


Juvenile Record Expungement

  • Under the Colorado Children’s Code, a person may request their juvenile record to be expunged (sealed from public access) by filing a Petition for Expungement of Records in each case in the District Court (or Denver Juvenile Court, if appropriate).
  • A Petition may be filed to expunge a record only once during any 12-month period.
  • If a Juvenile was charged by a direct filing in the District Court as an Adult, but he/she was sentenced as a Juvenile, a Petition for Expungement of Records can be filed in the District Court criminal (CR) case.

You are eligible to Petition for an expungement order:

  • Immediately if you are found not guilty, your case is dismissed, or you successfully complete a juvenile diversion program, a deferred adjudication, or an informal adjustment.
  • One year after you successfully completed probation or after your contact with law enforcement if nothing else happened after that contact.
  • Three years after your unconditional release from commitment to the Department of Human Services or the date of your unconditional release from parole supervision.
  • Five years after the date the court’s jurisdiction over you ends or the date of your unconditional release from probation or parole supervision, whichever is later, if you have been found to be a repeat or mandatory juvenile offender and if you have not violated any other criminal statute.
  • At any time if you were convicted of prostitution, as described in §18-7-201, C.R.S.; soliciting for prostitution, as described in §18-7-202, C.R.S.; keeping a place of prostitution, as described in §18-7-204, C.R.S.; public indecency, as described in §18-7-301, C.R.S.; soliciting for child prostitution, as described in §18-7-402, C.R.S.; or any corresponding municipal code or ordinance, and if at the hearing, the court finds that, at the time you committed the offense, you were trafficked by another person, as described in §18-3-503 or 18-3-504, C.R.S., for the purpose of performing the offense, or you were coerced by another person, as described in §18-3-503, C.R.S., to perform the offense.

You are not eligible to Petition for an expungement order if:

  • You were adjudicated for an offense involving unlawful sexual behavior as defined in §16-22-102(9), C.R.S.; or
  • You were adjudicated an aggravated juvenile offender;  or
  • You were adjudicated a violent juvenile offender; or
  • You were adjudicated for an offense that would be a crime of violence if committed by an adult; or
  • You were charged by the direct filing of an indictment or information in district court as a juvenile and you received an adult sentence.

Juvenile records remain accessible even if the case is closed, or dismissed, unless the Court has signed an Order of Expungement of Juvenile Records. This Order directs the Court to expunge your record, which means that you, the agency and the Court may properly indicate that no record exists.

If your case is ordered expunged, basic information identifying you and a list of any state and local agencies and officials having contact with you, will be available to a district attorney, local law enforcement agency, and the department of human services. In addition, your record will be available to any judge or probation department for use in any future juvenile or adult sentencing hearing.


Victims Of Sex Trafficking

If you have a conviction for:

prostitution, as described in section 18-7-201, C.R.S.;

soliciting for prostitution, as described in section 18-7-202, C.R.S.;

keeping a place of prostitution, as described in section 18-7-204, C.R.S.;

public indecency, as described in section 18-7-301, C.R.S.;

or any corresponding municipal code or ordinance you are eligible to seal those criminal conviction records. (CRS 24-72-706)


Posting Nude Photos On The Internet

If you were convicted of posting a private image for harassment in violation of section 18-7-107, C.R.S., or posting a private image for pecuniary gain in violation of section 18-7-108, C.R.S.,

AND

You have completed the sentence, including payment of the fine,

AND

You have not been convicted of another criminal offense for at least five years after the date you completed your sentence (including probation),

AND

You are eligible to seal those criminal conviction records (CRS 24-72-709).


Theft Of Public Transportation

In a strangely worded statute if you were convicted of theft of public transportation services by fare evasion as described in section 18-4-802, C.R.S., as it existed prior to June 8, 2012 you may be eligible to seal those criminal conviction records. (CRS 24-72-707),


The Procedure For Sealing A Criminal Record

A petition requesting that the record be sealed must be filed in the District Court, in the county where the records are located. All of the agencies who maintain the record must be provided with notice and an opportunity to object to the petition to seal.

If the petition to seal is granted by the Judge you would not be obligated to disclose any information contained in the sealed records to any employer, educational institution, state or local government agency, officials, and employees in any application or interview.

Further, if an interviewer or application inquires about any criminal records that may have been sealed you may legally claim that no such action ever occurred and that no such record exists.

Moreover, upon any inquiry, all criminal justice agencies are required to state that no such records exist. With certain limited exceptions, once the record is sealed, the documents legally could be examined only if you or the prosecuting attorney petitions the Judge and the Judge grants the examination. However, please be advised that the arresting agency is permitted to share information contained in a sealed record when an inquiry is made by another criminal justice agency.


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