Your Criminal Record: Getting It Sealed
Whenever someone in Colorado is arrested or convicted, the crime is noted in their criminal record. These records are accessible to police officers, as well as the public, meaning anyone can do a little digging and find out about your past mistakes. This can make it very difficult for people to move from their arrests and convictions, as the record can impact their ability to get a job, get housing, or even pursue higher education. People with criminal histories are, unfortunately, often discriminated against. That is why sealing your record may be to your benefit.
Sealing your record is not an easy process, and it starts with figuring out whether you are even eligible to have your record sealed. There are several factors that go into whether your request will be approved, and some of them may disqualify you immediately. In Colorada courts, the qualifying factors include:
- The severity of the crime
- Whether you were convicted
- Your age
- When the case was closed
There are many crimes that cannot be sealed. Class 1, 2, or 3 felonies cannot be sealed, neither can violent drug crimes, sex crimes, or certain misdemeanor traffic offenses. The theory is that these are serious offenses kept public to help the community keep itself safe. An employer looking to hire a new staff member at her daycare, for example, would certainly want to know if a prospective employee has been convicted of sex crimes against children.
Whether or not you were convicted is an incredibly important fact in these matters. Arrests start the trial process; however, many people who are arrested are never tried or convicted. That may be for a number of reasons: the prosecution didn’t feel they had enough evidence, a deal was struck, or the actual criminal was later identified. Whatever the reason, if you were never convicted of the crime, then you are eligible to have your record sealed immediately, and do not have to deal with the usual required waiting period.
If you were a juvenile during your arrest, meaning you were under the age of 18; or you were underage, meaning you were under the age of 21, then you would be eligible to have your record sealed.
To be eligible to have your record sealed, you may have to wait for a certain amount of time to pass after your case was closed. Different crimes have different waiting periods. In most circumstances, you cannot have your record sealed the moment that your case has been closed. Here are the standards:
- There was no conviction: You don’t have to wait at all.
- Petty offenses: You must wait one year.
- Class 2 and 3 misdemeanors: You must wait two years.
- Misdemeanor drug crimes: You must wait two years.
- Class 4, 5, and 6 felonies: You must wait three years.
However, once you have waited for the required amount of time, and you have doubled-checked that you qualify with all of the other factors, then you can begin the process of having your record sealed.
The Sealing Process
The process depends on what crime you’re sealing, as different crimes may require different types of paperwork. Generally speaking, most cases will start with filing a motion with the court. Doing so means you need to:
- Get your records: First, you should get ahold of the police reports and records on your case.
- Get your criminal history: After that, you should get an up-to-date, verified copy of your criminal history. You can get this from the Colorado Bureau of Investigations (CBI)
- Fill out the correct forms: Different crimes will have different forms associated with them. You can contact the local court, speak to an attorney, or do online research to determine which form you need.
- Petition the court: Once all forms are filled out correctly, send them to the court where your case occurred.
- Wait for a review: The court may decide to grant your record seal, or deny it, depending on the paperwork you sent in. They may even choose to hold a hearing with you to review your petition and talk to you in person.
- Update the appropriate agencies: If your petition is approved, it is up to you to send copies of the seal order to every agency that has a copy of your criminal record. That usually includes the police department and the CBI.
While this may seem like a straightforward process, it can become confusing for those who do not have experience working with the Colorado court system. One incorrectly filled-out form or missed step could be the difference between approval and rejection. That is why you should seek help from a skilled criminal defense attorney. We at Peters & Nolan, LLC, have years of experience helping people seal their criminal records and get back on their feet. If you want to schedule a free consultation with our team, call us at (970) 243-4357 today.
Peters & Nolan, LLC is your ideal source for high quality legal representation throughout the state of Colorado. Known for being personable and responsive, attorneys Andrew J. Peters and Andrew Nolan are aggressive trial lawyers with an excellent record of trying and settling cases in criminal defense, DUI/DWAI and personal injury.