In Colorado, when someone is arrested or convicted of a criminal offense, it goes on their criminal record. These records are collected and maintained by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and remain even if the charges are dismissed. In 2019, the General Assembly broadly increased the pool of individuals that are eligible to get their record sealed so anyone who has been in the criminal justice system should contact an attorney in their area to learn their options.
Sealing vs. Expungement
Sealing a criminal record hides it from public access, but police and prosecuting agencies will have access to it. This is most commonly the only relief for individuals in Colorado. Expungement, on the other hand, entails actual destruction of the record so that no person or entity will have access to it. Expungement is only available in certain limited situations and for juvenile offenses.
Benefits of a clean record
The most obvious benefit of a clean record is in applications for employment. Sealing one’s record not only allows you to produce a clean CBI background check, but also allows you to deny ever having been arrested, charged, or convicted of a crime. But one cannot always anticipate scenarios in which a criminal record can have negative effects. You may want to run for a school board or city council one day. You may want to coach your child’s sports team. The scenarios in which a criminal record can disqualify you are endless, and nobody can guarantee that you will be eligible for record sealing tomorrow. If you think you may be eligible to seal your record now, it is incumbent upon you to pursue the opportunity.
While you don’t have to have an attorney file on your behalf, it helps to have someone with knowledge of the law and the process to handle this undertaking for you. Drafting and filing legal documents on your own is possible, but almost always better done by a professional. Beyond having the correct case law to support your position, it helps to have an experienced criminal attorney review the merits of your position and focus your arguments on what is most likely to succeed. Additionally, the Court can set your matter for a hearing. In that case, it would certainly be good to have a licensed attorney on your side as the other side is the District Attorney. Even after the Court grants your Motion to Seal, there are additional steps that must be taken to ensure that no record of the offense exists. Law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation must all be served the Order to complete the process. It is advisable to have an attorney represent you in sealing your record considering the expertise and time involved.
Contact our office for a free consultation to learn whether you are eligible and learn more about our affordable flat fee rates to handle all aspects of sealing your record.