Almost every day I get calls to my office asking about sealing a drug conviction. The first thing I would like to make clear is the difference between expunging and sealing a drug conviction. When you expunge a record you physically take it out of the records department so there is no way it can be found. This is usually only done for juvenile cases. Now, a SEALING means that you seal your record from the public. You cannot seal your record from law enforcement so there is no way to remove the file from the system, all you can do is make sure that the public can’t find it. Now, with that being said, this day and age people can find things on the internet that they are not supposed to find, however, it is extremely difficult to do once your record has been sealed. These new drug laws apply to people who were convicted of a drug offense after July 1, 2011.
Sealing Petty Offenses and Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3 Misdemeanors
- Under Colorado’s new drug law, level 2 and level 3 drug misdemeanor may be filed after three years from final disposition or release from supervision, whichever is later.
- For Level 1 drug misdemeanors the petition may be filed after five years from a final disposition of release from supervision, whichever is later.
- You must provide notice to the District Attorney and pay the filing fees.
- You will be denied if you have been charged or convicted of a new criminal offense since the release from supervision or final disposition of the case you are trying to seal, whichever is later.
- If the District Attorney objects, the Court shall set a hearing and determine if the records should be sealed based upon the factors in C.R.S. 24-72-308.5.
- If the DA does not object, the Court shall order the records sealed.
Sealing Level 4, 5 and 6 Drug Felonies
- A petition may be filed under seal after seven years from final disposition or release from supervision.
- For all other drug felonies, the petition may be filed after ten years.
- You may not be charged or convicted of any other crimes since the release from supervision or final disposition of the case you are trying to seal.
- The DA must be notified of the petition to seal, if they object there will be a hearing held on the matter, if they don’t object and all other requirements have been met, the Judge may seal the record.
Exceptions to Sealing Drug Convictions
- A person is convicted of a new criminal offense after their record has been sealed by a court, the court is required to order the records be unsealed.
- Any member of the public may petition a record to be unsealed if they can demonstrate a circumstance that has a risen that proves the public’s interest in the record. The public’s right to disclosure must outweigh the defendant’s right to privacy.
- Conviction records cannot be sealed if the defendant does not complete all requirements by the court. For example, paying restitution, court fees, or any other fees that were not vacated by the court at a later time.
- The criminal history attached to the petition has to be current through at least the twentieth day prior to the date of filing of the petition but in no event, later than the tenth day after the petition is filed. Defendant is responsible for obtaining and paying for the verified copy of their criminal history
It is always a good idea to contact an attorney about the specifics of your case. This is not legal advice. Please contact our office if you have any further questions about this topic.
By Shannon Lynch