The state legislature has recently created a new policy when it comes to sealing records in Colorado, and these changes relate to cases other than convictions. In the past, under current Colorado sealing record laws, you could only seal a deferred judgment or a dismissed case. In addition, you were only eligible to do this after a certain period of time and completion of any other requirements from the court.
However, due to the recent update, under C.R.S. 24-72-702.5, the process of sealing your records is much more streamlined.
This new addition to the Colorado sealing records laws states that any time a case against a person is completely dismissed, in which the person of interest is acquitted or completes a diversion agreement or a deferred judgment, the court shall allow the defendant to be eligible to have his or her criminal record sealed. Prior to the change, a waiting period for a certain amount of time after completion was required, along with filing paperwork with the court and waiting to hear from all relevant agencies before you could have your record sealed.
The biggest difference in this new bill is that the request for sealing records may be informal and made in open court before the judge at the time of dismissal. If the request is granted, then the court will send the order to all relevant agencies. It is also allowable to petition to the courts for the sealing of a record in a written motion that can be found on your local county courthouse’s website at a later date. All you have to do is pay $65 at the time of filing the petition to seal.
In some cases, if the District Attorney objects, a hearing may have to be attended by the defendant as to why the court should or shouldn’t seal your record, but in most cases, the process got much simpler and less lengthy. Read through the statute’s new guidelines to determine if your case applies. If you’re still uncertain, we’ve provided a list of answers to any other questions you may have.
If you believe that your case is eligible to be sealed based on the criteria below, go to the courthouse in the county your case was held. All you have to do is file some paperwork and pay a $65.00 sealing fee. Make sure you have your case number as this will be needed for the paperwork you will file. The court does all the heavy lifting. Even if you are not sure if your case can be sealed the court will be able to instruct you.
Sealing Criminal Records in Colorado
This sealing law is the most recent addition to Colorado law. This is the most simplified process in sealing your record because it forces the court to do all the legwork instead of you or your attorney. This statute allows you only to seal your record once your case is dismissed. This does not include plea deals – only dismissals, acquittals, and any sort of deferred prosecution that ultimately leads to a dismissal. You can do this in two ways;
- To ask the judge right there in court to seal your record. The judge will create an order to seal your record. Then you will be told you have to pay a $65.00 sealing fee. This will trigger the court to send the judge’s order to seal your criminal case to the proper channels.
- If you do not ask for your record to be sealed in the courtroom at the moment of dismissal, you can file the appropriate paperwork (i.e. the 24-72-702.5) at a later date. Either way, you must pay the $65.00 sealing fee at the time of filing.
This is the most simplified process of sealing your record.
Is My Record Eligible to Be Sealed?
This statute refers to sealing records other than convictions, and is very similar to the simplified process above. However, according to this statute, you cannot ask for this kind of sealing in the courtroom. This requires you, or your attorney, to file the appropriate paperwork not only with the court but with all other agencies involved in the underlying crime. There is also a fee of almost $300 instead of $65. There are kinds of cases that can be sealed under this statute and others that cannot.
Law Update Concerning Charges Involving Controlled Substances
In regards to charges involving controlled substances between July 1, 2008, and July 1, 2011, you may seal your record of;
- a) Any petty offense or misdemeanor in violation of a provision of article 18 of title 18 ;
- b) Any class 5 or class 6 felony in violation of provision of article 18 of title 18 with the exception of class 5 or 6 felonies for the sale, manufacturing or dispensing of a controlled substance, attempt of conspiracy to commit the sale, manufacturing or dispensing of a controlled substance, or possession with the intent to manufacture, dispense, or sell a controlled substance;
Further statutes outline the specifics for the following crimes. All of these sealing provisions do follow the required ten or more years from your final contact with the court or any other court entity unless otherwise specified.
- c) See statute C.R.S. 24-72-705 to see the specific details related to controlled substances that may or may not be sealed after July 1, 2011.
- d) See statute C.R.S. 24-72-706 to see specific details related to victims of human trafficking and people convicted of prostitution.
- e) See statute C.R.S 24-72-707 to see specific details related to offenses involving theft of public transportation services.
The final statute, C.R.S. 24-72-708, relays the specifics of sealing petty offenses and municipal offenses for convictions. Sealing records of this nature are a little simpler. For example, you only have to wait three years instead of ten. This does not apply to people who are convicted of a traffic violation while holding a commercial driver’s license.
It is important to remember that the court only has jurisdiction over the government agencies that would have this kind of information. If a private agency somehow gets your personal information and they use it on their personal internet website, the court does not have jurisdiction to compel them to take any of your information down. You may be able to pay them to release the information to you, but there is nothing that says private companies have to comply with these specific sealing laws. Also, the court can only seal it from the public and can not seal anything from other branches of the government (for example, the FBI).
Cases that can be sealed under C.R.S. 24-72-702:
- A criminal offense for which the person of interest completed a diversion agreement.
- A criminal offense that was not charged and the statute of limitations for the offense has run out.
- A criminal offense that was not charged and that statute of limitations has not run out but the person is no longer being investigated by law enforcement.
- a criminal offense in which the case was completely dismissed,
- or a criminal record where the person was completely acquitted.
- You may seal records of a case that was dismissed due to a plea agreement if the petition is filed ten years or more after the final disposition date, and
- the person has not committed any other crime in those ten years.
Cases that can NOT be sealed under C.R.S. 24-72-702:
- An offense that is not charged due to a plea agreement,
- A dismissal occurs as part of a plea agreement, and
- If the defendant still owes restitution, fines, court costs, late fees or other fees that are ordered to be paid by the court.
- A DUI CONVICTION can never be sealed in the state of Colorado.
- Any criminal conduct that has to do with unlawful sexual behavior can never be sealed in the state of Colorado.
Things To Keep in Mind
However, even if you do meet some of the above requirements, the court has the final say if the petition will be granted or denied. If the court does not feel you meet the above requirements for any reason, they may deny the petition. The court will have to specify the reason for denial, which your attorney might be able to argue against.
If the court decides that the petition is ready for sealing, they will set a hearing date. All relevant agencies will then be notified of this hearing date to come and voice any objections. If it is determined that the benefit of allowing you to seal your record outweighs the danger to the community, the court will grant your petition. There are, of course, added fees to seal the record.
C.R.S. 24-72-703 -This sealing statute outlines the specific rules for sealing a criminal conviction record. It specifically states that when being sentenced, the court will advise you of your rights regarding the sealing of your criminal conviction. This specific statute encompasses a plethora of statutes that relate to different crimes. We will go over them below.
For most of the types of crimes, you may file a petition to seal your conviction record if;
- the petition is filed after ten or more years from your final contact with the court or any other court entity.
- you have not been charged or convicted of a criminal offense within those ten or more years.
How to Seal a Record in Colorado
You may petition the District Court by filing a civil case in the county in which any arrest and/or criminal records are filed. Instructions and forms are available on the State Judicial Website or can be purchased at your local clerk’s office.
The following is the main link to the State of Colorado Sealing website: Seal My Case
In order to qualify to have your criminal record sealed, you must meet one of the following requirements:
- You were acquitted
- Your case was dismissed
- You completed a diversion agreement pursuant to C.R.S. § 18-1.3-101
- You have an arrest record, but you were not charged in court and the statute of limitations for the offense for which you were arrested that has the longest statute of limitations has run OR
- You have an arrest record, but you were not charged in court, the statute of limitations has not run and you are no longer being investigated by law enforcement for commission of the offense. For further information about specific statutes of limitations, see §16-5-401, C.R.S.
However, even if you meet the above requirements, you cannot have your criminal record sealed if:
- The record pertains to an offense that was not charged due to a plea agreement in a separate case**
- The record pertains to a dismissal that occurs as part of a plea agreement in a separate case** OR
- You still owe restitution, fines, court costs, late fees, or other fees ordered by the court in the case that you are asking to be sealed and the court has not vacated that order.
**Where your record pertains to a dismissal that occurs as part of a plea agreement in a separate case, you may still qualify to have your record sealed if 10 or more years have passed since the final disposition of all criminal proceedings against you and you have no additional criminal charges since the date of the final disposition of all criminal proceedings filed against you.
Other criminal records that cannot be sealed include the following:
- Records pertaining to class 1 or class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense
- Records pertaining to a class A or class B traffic infraction
- Records pertaining to a deferred judgment and sentence for an offense for which the factual basis involved unlawful sexual behavior, as defined in § 16-22-102(9), C.R.S. (This does not mean you are not eligible to deregister as a registered sexual offender under Discontinue Sex Offender Registration)
- Records pertaining to a deferred judgment and sentence for an offense concerning Driving under the Influence, § 42-4-1301(1) or (2), C.R.S.
- Records pertaining to deferred judgment and sentence for an offense concerning the holder of a commercial driver’s license, or the operator of a commercial motor vehicle, as defined in § 42-2-402, C.R.S.
Other Frequently Asked Questions: Sealing Your Record
How much does it cost to seal to seal your record?
- Petition to Seal Underage Drinking and Driving: No cost
- Petition to Seal Underage Alcohol: No cost
- Petition to Seal Arrest and Criminal Records: see District Court Civil Fees line 17 of the fee chart JDF 1: Filing Fees
- Petition to Seal Criminal Conviction Records: see District Court Civil Fees line 18 of the fee chart JDF 1: Filing Fees
- If you are unable to pay the filing fee, you must complete the Motion to File without Payment and Supporting Financial Affidavit. You can find the forms here.
My case is a Municipal Court case. Where do I seal my case?
- You may petition the District Court to seal records by filing in the county in which your Municipal Court Case is filed
Do I have to appear for the hearing?
- The Court may ask you questions about your request, and any objections filed. If you do not appear for the hearing, your petition to seal may be denied.
What steps, if any, do I need to take after the hearing?
- If the Court grants your Petition to Seal at the hearing, it is then your responsibility to notify Colorado Bureau of Investigation and all agencies listed on the Order, by mailing each agency a copy of the signed Order. Your failure to notify the agencies may result in your record not being sealed. This is why the Law Offices of M. Colin Bresee encourages people to send the order CERTIFIED mail! (NOTE: This does not apply to the simplified process of 24-72-702.5, since the court notifies the agencies under this process.)
How do I know if my case is eligible to be sealed?
- Please see the instructions or review Colorado Revised Statutes listed below and my more detailed explanation below:
- Sealing of Arrest and Criminal Records: 24-72-308
- Sealing of Criminal Conviction Records: 24-72-308.5
- Expungement of Juvenile Records: 19-1-306
- Sealing Underage Drinking and Driving: 42-4-1715
- Sealing Underage Alcohol: 18-13-122(10) October, 2013 Page 2
What is the difference between sealing and expungement?
- Expungement refers to juvenile cases only. Expungement means that the juvenile’s record is never actually “submitted to the court,” therefore there is no record to seal. A sealing is when records have been submitted to the court file and then subsequently “sealed.”
How Much Does it Cost to Seal Your Record In Colorado?
A $65.00 fee includes all the costs relating to the sealing of your criminal record. The judge has the discretion to decide if the court will seal your case or not. This does not nullify the rules that are already in place for sealing your criminal record, this is just an addition to it.
Each Case Is Unique – A Note From Colin Bresee
When we’re approached by clients who need assistance with getting their record sealed, we recognize that each one experiences real world problems that a charge can and will cause them in their lives. Most feel as if they cannot see any light at the end of the tunnel and will be faced with dire consequences for their actions for the rest of their lives. It is our job to show them a plan customized to their needs under their unique circumstances.
Today, clients who thought there was no hope for them have had their records sealed. Each of these clients thought about doing this on their own, but they realized that it is full of pitfalls since it requires a lot of time to understand the rules, follow the technical procedures, and adhere to the filing process. They hired me to get the job done right the first time and they encouraged me to record a blog about the process, letting people know not attempt this on their own, and instead hire me to do it. I thank them for their trust, confidence, and advice.
For more information on sealing your record, view the attached hyperlinks on this blog post. Or, contact M. Colin Bresee, an experienced lawyer, to assess your unique case.
Every case is different. It is in your best interest to speak to an attorney about your options and get your specific case analyzed. M. Colin Bresee is an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact our office to get a free consultation on your specific case.
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