4 Things to Know about CO Record Sealing

It’s unfortunate that the mistakes people sometimes make stick around to haunt them. A criminal record is like a ghost from the past, never letting you forget and creating roadblocks to a brighter future.

In Colorado, being arrested gets you a criminal record, whether or not you are ever charged or found guilty – and even if you are acquitted. Luckily, the state provides relief for some people: record sealing. This allows you to seal your criminal record from public view. However, record sealing  is a complex issue and there’s a lot to know.

A lot of people interchange “expungement” and “record sealing,” however legally those are two completely different things.  An expungement is when your conviction no longer exists, and all records pertaining to your case are destroyed.  When someone has their record sealed, it is simply sealed from the public’s view.  Law enforcement can still see the record, and if you are sealing a conviction, you are still convicted of that crime.  For example, if you are eligible to seal a felony conviction and that record is sealed, you are still a convicted felon.  You do not get your gun rights back.  Unfortunately, in Colorado only juvenile adjudications can be expunged from your record.  There is currently no mechanism to have an adult conviction expunged.

Read on to find out about four things every Coloradan should know about record sealing.

Not Everyone Is Eligible

Only a small percentage of those with a criminal record meet the qualifications to have their records sealed.  The only people who qualify for record sealing are:

  • Anyone accused of a crime wrongly
  • Anyone acquitted of charges against them
  • Anyone who completes the terms of their diversion, probation, or sentence successfully
  • Anyone who has their charges dismissed
  • Anyone whose conviction falls within a few narrow categories of charges that are eligible to be sealed

If you don’t meet these criteria, chances are you will not be able to have your Colorado criminal record sealed.

You Have to Wait

In Colorado, you must file a petition with the court to have your record sealed. But that’s not all – you also have to wait a certain amount of time to petition the court or your request to have your record sealed will be denied.

How much time? It depends on the circumstances surrounding your case. In most cases you have to wait:

  • If you were wrongly accused of a crime, you can seal your record immediately
  • If you are acquitted at trial of all counts, you can seal your record immediately
  • If your charges are dismissed, you can seal your record immediately
  • If you successfully complete your deferred sentence, you can seal once the charges are dismissed
  • You can seal a Petty Offense conviction 12 months after you have been released from the jurisdiction of the court
  • You can seal a Class 2 or 3 Misdemeanor conviction 2 years after you have been released from the jurisdiction of the court
  • You can seal a Class 4, 5, or 6 Felony, a Drug Felony 3 or 4, or a Class 1 Misdemeanor 3 years after you have been released from the jurisdiction of the court
  • Finally, all other charges that do not fall into any of the above categories can be sealed 5 years after being released from the jurisdiction of the court.

Jurisdiction of the court simply means you have served your sentence in full and have no further obligations to the court.  If you are on probation, the clock starts the day your probation ends.  If you went to prison on a charge, the clock starts the day you are released from parole.

It’s important to note that you can only petition the court once for a record sealing during a 12-month period, so it’s vital to ensure you meet the qualifications.

You Need Information

Record Sealing isn’t as simple as filling out a form. You must also gather information to submit to the court regarding your arrest. You will need case numbers and report numbers regarding any convictions. For dismissed cases, you need a separate case number.  An experienced attorney can help ensure you have all the information you need to submit a complete application.

Not Every Case Is Eligible

Not every case is eligible to have your record sealed. Certain crimes can never get sealed in Colorado, and certain circumstances make it impossible as well. You may fail to get your case successfully sealed if any of these things are true:

  • You were convicted of a sex offense
  • There are still unpaid fees, restitution, fines, or court costs related to your case
  • The conviction was for a DUI, DWAI, Class 1 or 2 misdemeanor traffic offense, or a Class A or B traffic infraction
  • You were convicted of a violent crime
  • You were convicted of an act of Domestic Violence
  • You were convicted of Animal Cruelty
  • You were convicted of Child Abuse
  • These last 3 are matters that cannot be expunged if you are a juvenile, and I don’t want to interchange sealing/expungement adult/juvenile.


About the Author:

Andrew Bryant is a well-respected Colorado Springs criminal attorney who has been practicing in the area for years. A Colorado native, he returned to the home he loves after graduating from the University of Kentucky College of Law. Now, he uses the knowledge he gained as an El Paso County District Attorney to fight tirelessly for his clients’ rights. He is AV-Preeminent rated, has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, and has been named to Best of the Springs lists by The Gazette for years.