One of the most devastating consequences of legal trouble isn’t even mentioned at sentencing: long after all is said and done, you’ll be left with a criminal record that comes back to haunt you. For the rest of your life.
How? A criminal record can compromise many important aspects of your everyday life, including employment, housing, loans, higher education – even dating.
Fortunately, depending on the circumstances of your run-in with the law, you may qualify to get your criminal record expunged so that it will not show up on criminal background checks. Expungement, otherwise known as criminal record sealing, allows former offenders to get a fresh start.
Below we cover offense-specific requirements for Colorado record expungement. If you qualify for Colorado criminal record expungement, we recommend speaking to an experienced Colorado defense attorney, who can guide you through the process of applying for expunction.
Unsealable Convictions in Colorado
Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. In Colorado, some offenses cannot be expunged regardless of the amount of time elapsed since conviction.
Unsealable convictions in Colorado include:
- Sex offenses
- DUI/DWI/drugged driving
- Class 1 and 2 misdemeanor traffic offenses
- Class A and B traffic infractions
- Moving violations involving a commercial driver’s license
Colorado Record Sealing with No Conviction
If you were arrested but not actually charged with a crime, or were acquitted at trial, your arrest record and/or court proceedings are still maintained in public databases. This means that even if you were ultimately found innocent, your charges will still show up on a criminal background check.
In these cases, you can apply for expungement right away – and we highly recommend doing so. The only exception to this rule is if your charges were dropped as a part of a plea deal for another criminal offense.
Drug Crime Convictions in Colorado
Drug crime convictions are eligible for expunction under the following circumstances:
- The offense was entered prior to July 1, 2008 and 10 years have elapsed since your sentence was complete, with no further arrests or criminal charges.
- The charge was entered between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2011, and 10 years have elapsed with no arrests or charges.
- The charge was entered July 2011 or later under one of the following circumstances, with no further criminal activity:
- Petty offenses, class 2 or 3 misdemeanors committed three or more years ago.
- Class 1 misdemeanor or level 1 drug misdemeanors committed five or more years ago.
- Level 4 drug felony, class 5 felony, or class 6 felony drug possession committed seven or more years ago.
- All other drug crimes committed 10 or more years ago.
Colorado Petty Offenses and Municipal Violations
Petty offenses and municipal violations are eligible for expunction under the following circumstances:
- Three or more years have elapsed since the sentence and/or parole were complete.
- You have not been charged with or convicted of any other criminal offense during this time.
Juvenile and Underage Records in Colorado
Crimes committed as a juvenile under age 18, or (for alcohol-related offenses) as a minor person under 21 may be eligible for expunction. Convictions for underage drug and alcohol crimes are eligible for expunction if one or more years have passed since the case was closed without any further criminal activity.
Other juvenile records (for example, theft) can be expunged if there has been no further criminal activity since the offense in question. However, sex crimes, domestic violence offenses, and weapons crimes are not eligible for expunction, even if these offenses were committed as a juvenile.
Still not sure if you qualify? Reach out to a knowledgeable attorney. It’s worth the time and effort to clear up your record if you’re able to do so.
About the Author:
Since 2005, Jeffrey L. Weeden has been practicing criminal defense law in Colorado and has helped countless clients protect their rights and freedoms as a respected, caring, hard-nosed criminal defense attorney. Over the course of his career, Mr. Weeden’s work has been recognized in numerous ways, including being named to the Top 100 Trial Lawyers list by The National Trial Lawyers, earning a 10.0 “Suberb” Avvo rating, receiving Martindale-Hubbard’s highest peer review rating — AV Preeminent, and being asked to speak on several issues of interest to the legal community. Additionally, he is someone who cares deeply about his community and those in need, and is an active member of a number of professional legal organizations, including the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center and Law Firm Pro Bono Coordinators.