What Is the Difference Between Expungements and Sealings?

Breaking the law is a negative mark on your record that you may not want future schools, landlords, or employers to see. There are two ways to clear your criminal record information: Through expungement or through sealing.

Does either of these even apply in your situation? As a quick comparison, an expungement is when an actual juvenile or criminal conviction is removed from someone’s record, and it is a complete deletion of the criminal record.  A sealing is when dismissed charges or cases are removed from public view, such as an employer who may be doing a routine background check.  Keep in mind that law enforcement can still see sealed records.  However, in both cases, you do not have to say that you were arrested or convicted of a crime if you are asked.

Your age when you committed the crime, the seriousness of the crime, and whether you were convicted will all have an impact on your ability to obtain either an expungement or a sealing legally. You will need the assistance of a knowledgeable Colorado Springs attorney to manage all the requirements for achieving either outcome.

What’s an Expungement?

Let’s first start with an expungement.  When someone’s record is expunged, your criminal record is wiped away as if it never existed. In Colorado, the law is very limited in what actually may be expunged from your record, and remember that expungements only deal with actual convictions or adjudications.   Almost all successful expungements in Colorado involve offenses committed as a juvenile.  But you may also be eligible for a Colorado Springs expungement of your record if your crime was a certain type of drug offense, was because you were a victim of sex trafficking, or was for a municipal or petty offense.

The requirements on whether you can expunge a juvenile adjudication are lengthy and complex.  There are some serious crimes, such as violent crimes and sexual offenses, that cannot be expunged.  Also, traffic offenses in general, from simple speeding tickets to more serious matters like DUIs cannot be expunged, regardless of someone’s age.

Adults may be able to expunge things like drug convictions, but in order to be eligible, you must complete all court-ordered requirements, allow for a passage of time since you were released from court supervision (time varies depending on your conviction), and you cannot even have been charged with any other new offenses.

To get an expungement, you must file a petition with the court. A qualified local expungement attorney can walk you through the process and ensure that your petition spells out how you qualify for expungement.

Sealings & Your Criminal Record

What’s a Sealing?

When your record is sealed, it means that your arrest and criminal record won’t be visible on a simple background check like the type performed by potential employers and landlords. However, law enforcement officials and others in the criminal justice system will be able to see sealed records.

While the laws dealing with sealings have recently changed, remember that you can only request to seal cases that have been dismissed except for a few certain circumstances.  The change in the laws allows for people who have older drug convictions to request the sealing of their conviction if certain conditions are met, such as a set passage of time, completion of all court conditions to include payment of costs and restitution, and you have not been charged with any new offenses.  On the other hand, if you’ve been convicted of or pleaded guilty to, for example, a Theft charge, this conviction will remain on your record for the rest of your life.

Knowing whether you meet the requirements to have an older case sealed, even one that’s been dismissed, is not always as straightforward a process as it may seem.

How Can You Get Started With an Expungement or Sealing Petition?

You may have an easier time getting admitted to school, landing a job, or finding housing if your record is clean. Whether you are qualified for a complete expungement of your criminal history or can seal your records from those performing background checks, working with a knowledgeable attorney like Andrew Bryant can make the process easier.

Andrew is a well-respected member of the Colorado Springs community and the Colorado Bar, and he has experience both as a Deputy District Attorney and a lawyer in private practice. He understands how both the prosecution and defense work and can put his knowledge to work for you. Let him clear your record and brighter your future with an expungement or sealing today. Call now for a free consultation!