If you have been involved with the judicial system it can be embarrassing when employers ask you “have you ever been arrested” or “have you ever been convicted of a crime”. This dreaded line of questioning can come up on job applications, school applications, credit checks, when searching for housing and any other background check. Having an arrest can hurt the chance for positive outcomes, besides being embarrassing.
In certain situations in Colorado, individuals can seal these public records. Sealing a record means it is not available to the public and any general background check will come back clean. The police and district attorneys will still be able to view the records, but the public will not be able to view any arrest or criminal records. Further, an individual who has sealed his or her records can legally answer “No, I have not been arrested or charged with a crime”.
The Colorado statue reads “Employers, educational institutions, state and local government agencies, officials, and employees shall not, in any application or interview or in any other way, require an applicant to disclose any information contained in sealed records. An applicant need not, in answer to any question concerning arrest and criminal records information that has been sealed, include a reference to or information concerning such sealed information and may state that no such action has ever occurred. Such an application may not be denied solely because of the applicant's refusal to disclose arrest and criminal records information that has been sealed.”
Sealing a record is different from expunging a record. Expunging means the record is deleted and no longer exists. The only records that can be expunged in Colorado are juvenile records. Sealing means they are not visible to the public. Record sealing does not happen automatically. Even when an arrest has occurred and the prosecution drops the charges the arrest will be visible on background checks. The individual must file the correct petition to seal the records.
Who Is Eligible
Only certain dispositions of cases are eligible to be sealed which include:
- An arrest where charges were not filed
- A dismissal of a case
- An acquittal by a jury
- Any deferred sentence that has successfully been completed
- Certain drug crimes (see below)
If a case is not filed or a case is dismissed due a plea agreement in a separate case the record cannot be sealed until ten years from the disposition date as long as no new crimes have been committed.
Exciting law changes have been approved by the Colorado legislature. Controlled substance convictions can be sealed as follows:
- Petty Offenses-3 years from final disposition
- Class 2&3 misdemeanors-3 years from final disposition
- Class 1 misdemeanors- 5 years from final disposition
- Class 5&6 felonies- 7 years from final disposition
- Other felonies- 10 years from final disposition
Any other type of case is not eligible to be sealed at this point in time. We are hopeful the laws will change and allow good standing citizens who have shown they can live a constructive life seal their records. People make mistakes and bad choices. We are hopeful more people can put their mistakes behind them for good. We have contacted our State representative and have been informed bills will be introduced to the Colorado House of representatives for a vote.
If you would like to inquire more about the record sealing process and see if you are eligible call Steven Louth Law Offices to speak with our Denver criminal defense attorneys. We have extensive experience in sealing record's and ensure the records at every agency is sealed. Call our offices for a free consultation.