When a person has a criminal conviction or an arrest on his record, he quickly finds out how detrimental this criminal record can be to progress in his personal, professional and social lives. A criminal conviction can derail your chances of getting that job you want, or getting into the university of your choice. Your records may be easily accessible and available to members of the public, and may turn up during background screening checks. It is not only damaging to your professional and personal prospects, but is also damaging to your reputation.

Through sealing of records, Colorado persons who have a criminal conviction or arrest on their records can get this information concealed from the public. While the process is generally known as expungement in other states, in Colorado, the general term used is sealing of records.

Expungement in Colorado refers to the process of destroying or obliterating records for all legal purposes. That means that your criminal record is completely destroyed, and all information related to it is destroyed. That does not mean that your record disappears. It means however, that the record is no longer accessible for general purposes.

However, in certain situations or in very rare cases, the expunged records can be located and used. This occurs in very rare circumstances however, and usually will involve a legal court order. In certain cases, the records may be available for access to a district attorney, the Department of Human Services, and other interested parties.

Juvenile Expungements

Most juvenile crime convictions can be expunged. Through expungement, you can deem that the juvenile record never existed, and that the conviction ever occurred. You may qualify for an expungement of your records if:

  • You have not been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor and have not been charged with any other juvenile crime
  • There are no current criminal proceedings against you
  • You have been rehabilitated
  • You can prove to the court that expunging your record is in the community’s best interest

You do not qualify for expungement of your juvenile records if:

  • You were classified as an aggravated or violated juvenile offender
  • You were convicted of an offense that could be classified as an adult crime of violence
  • You committed an unlawful sexual offense

If you were found not guilty in the courts, you can file for expungement as a juvenile immediately. However, if you were found guilty, you must wait to file:

  • One year from the date that you completed the terms of your sentence
  • Four years from the date of the end of your court or parole supervision
  • Ten years from the date your court or parole supervision ended, whichever is later, if you were a repeat offender and haven’t committed any further criminal violations.

Despite these guidelines, there are always exceptions to every rule. To learn if you are eligible to have your criminal record expunged, speak to a Denver criminal defense attorney. You can only file for expungement of your juvenile records once within a twelve month period, so make sure that you do it properly the first time by speaking with an experienced Denver criminal defense attorney.

Adult Expungements/Sealed Records

Colorado law provides for record sealing and record expungement for persons who want to conceal or hide their criminal record. A criminal conviction on your record can hinder your chances for employment because many employers will conduct a criminal screening check before hiring.

Adult criminal convictions in Colorado currently cannot be expunged. If you have a criminal record, and are an adult offender, then you may move to have your criminal record sealed. Sealing is an option for you, but not expungement.

Note that certain types of cases are not eligible for sealing. For example, a conviction for DUI or DWA I in Colorado is not eligible for sealing. You also cannot seal a felony criminal record. Many misdemeanors, petty offenses, and certain types of misdemeanor drug crimes can be sealed.

However, many kinds of charges can be sealed. For example, crimes involving controlled substances can be sealed as long as you have satisfied the terms of your sentencing and meet the following criteria:

  • For petty offenses or class 2 or 3 misdemeanors, you must wait three years after the criminal proceedings or your release from supervision before sealing your record.
  • For class 1 misdemeanors, you must wait five years after the criminal proceedings or your release from supervision before sealing your record.
  • For class 5 or 6 felony offenses, you must wait seven years after the criminal proceedings or your release from supervision before sealing your record.

Of course, there are limits on what kind of controlled substance charges can be sealed, and decisions are typically handed out on a case-by-case basis. But, if you meet the criteria above, you should talk to a Denver criminal defense attorney about having your records sealed.

Cases that have been dismissed can sometimes be expunged, depending on the conditions of the dismissal. You are allowed to petition to have your record expunged in a case where you were not convicted if:

  • You were arrested, but never charged with a crime or
  • The case was dismissed
  • You went to trial and were found not guilty of the charges against you

However, if charges were not brought to you or the case was dismissed as a result of a plea bargain in another case, you cannot have your records expunged.

Each case for record sealing or expungement is decided on a case-by-case basis. It’s therefore important to consult with an experienced Denver criminal defense attorney and get professional legal guidance before you begin the process of applying for a sealing or expungement.

Why Do You Need An Attorney to Seal/Expunge Your Records?

Many people mistakenly believe that filing to have your records sealed or expunged is just a matter of paperwork. However, sealing or expunging your records can be a lengthy, complicated legal process. Without the knowledge and expertise that comes with years of experience, it can be difficult to navigate through the legal process, so it’s essential that you contact a skilled Denver criminal defense lawyer.

By: Dan Murphy

Denver criminal defense lawyer Daniel M. Murphy provides clients in the Denver area with aggressive and sympathetic legal representation. He graduated from the University of Denver Law School in 1994 and worked as a public defender before starting his own practice in 1996. He has defended clients accused of the most difficult criminal and alcohol-related charges. He also serves as a Moot Court Judge for Denver-area law students who rely on his mentorship.