Record sealing is the process of concealing or destroying court records in some cases that would otherwise be publicly available. When a record is sealed, no one can view it without a court order. If you have a previous felony or misdemeanor conviction, or if you have an arrest record for charges that were later dismissed, it may be in your best interest to remove this from your record. There are two ways to do this: expungement and record sealing.
Expungement generally involves the physical destruction of records. This is held to a higher standard than record sealing, and is more difficult to obtain. For the majority of cases where you wouldn’t want court records available publicly, the best option is to petition to have your records sealed.
The following are some of the most common questions that Colorado lawyers get from clients about what record sealing is, how it works, and when it’s a good option.
Why should I get my records sealed?
Having a felony or misdemeanor conviction, or even an arrest record for charges that were dropped, on your record could interfere with your ability to get a job, take out a loan, or rent a place to live.
Can my Colorado legal case be sealed?
Not all types of legal cases can have their records sealed, but there are some circumstances where you may want to pursue this option. If you have pled guilty to certain types of offenses, and completed the period of deferment, you may be able to have the records sealed. You must also meet the following requirements:
You were acquitted;
Your case was dismissed;
You completed a diversion agreement;
You have an arrest record but you were not charged in court, and the statute of limitations for the offense with the longest statute of limitations has run out;
You have an arrest record, but you were not charged in court. The statute of limitations has not run, but law enforcement is no longer investigating you under suspicion of having committed the offense.
You no longer owe restitution, fines, court fees, late fees, or any other fees ordered by the court related to the case you want to be sealed.
There are some types of offenses that cannot be sealed:
Records pertaining to class 1 or class 2 misdemeanor traffic offenses;
Records pertaining to class A or class B traffic infractions;
Records pertaining to a deferred judgement and sentence for an offense involving unlawful sexual behavior;
Records pertaining to a deferred judgement for DUI, DWAI, or DUI per-se;
Records pertaining to a deferred judgement and sentence for certain offenses involving holders of commercial driver’s licenses.
How do I seal a record in Colorado?
If you want to petition the court to seal a record, or you have previously been advised that your case is eligible for record sealing, the best thing to do is to consult with an attorney about it. The forms you’ll need to fill out are available online through the Colorado Judicial Branch website.
There will be a $224.00 filing fee. If you can’t pay it, you may complete a Motion to File Without Payment and Supporting Financial Affidavit.
Here’s a basic rundown of the process, as outlined in information provided by the State of Colorado Judicial Department:
Obtain your arrest records and criminal records. You need the right case report numbers, arrest numbers, and case numbers from your original arrest and criminal records.
Fill out the appropriate forms. You need to fill out the Petition to Seal Arrest and Criminal Records, Order to Seal Arrest and Criminal Records, and Order and Notice of Hearing. You must also fill out the caption on the Order Denying Petition to Seal Arrest and Criminal Record form, in case the court denies your petition.
File the case with the court.
The Court will determine whether a hearing will be set, or whether your petition will be denied without a hearing.
How long does the process take?
The process of getting your records sealed can take some time. Once you’ve filled out your paperwork, it will take your attorney, a couple of days to file it with the court. Then, it can take anywhere from 30 to 60 days to receive a response from the prosecution or orders from the court. After that, once an order from the court to seal the records is received, your attorney’s office will send the order to seal to all of the investigative agencies.
What can I do if a sealing order is ignored and not carried out?
When a sealing order is issued, but an investigative agency fails to remove the charges, it is a direct violation of the court’s orders. If this occurs, your attorney can send another followup order to them and contact them directly.
If the Colorado court did not seal my record, what happens next?
If your petition to have a record sealed is denied by the court, the offense or charge will show up on background checks conducted by landlords, employers, and others. If your case is eligible for sealing, but you have not yet petitioned the court, contact an attorney who specializes in these cases.
Sealing a Record to Clear Your Name
Arrests or charges for felonies or misdemeanors can have a detrimental effect on your for years afterward. If your case is eligible for record sealing, it is highly advisable that you contact an attorney and go through the process of petitioning the court.