In the state of Colorado, we don’t offer expungements (with the exception of juvenile cases). Instead, Colorado offers “sealing” of records, and in order for your case to qualify to be sealed, it must meet a certain set of requirements.
What Does it Mean to Seal a Record?
With sealing, the charges would not be available to the general public but they would still be available to law enforcement.
Since Colorado does not offer expungement, it is not an area of focus for our office. However, generally speaking (and it varies from state to state), expungement can only be granted by a judge, and when it is granted, the offender may for the most part treat the offense as though it never happened. Expungement results in a “deletion” of a criminal charge that occurred.
Again, expungement is not an area of focus for our office since it is not offered by the state of Colorado. It is always advised that you consult an attorney in your state of residence when pursuing expungement or sealing of a record.
Record Sealing in Action
Here’s an example of how a sealed record may affect someone’s life. Let’s say a woman was charged with domestic violence and her attorney had the record sealed. She then punches her fiancé again and the police are called.
She might say, “Oh, this is my first offense,” thinking that the sealed record makes her safe. Well, although the record is hidden from the public, it is still available to law enforcement – so the police would be able to look at her record and see that she did in fact have a previous offense.
Sealing records is a good thing to do, especially if you plan to apply for jobs in the future, but it won’t protect you from the police if you break the law again.
Important Criteria for Record Sealing
In Colorado, other than municipal offenses (which can never be felonies), a record can only be sealed if the charge was totally dismissed and if the dismissal was not part of an overall disposition.
So, for example, let’s assume you were charged with resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer. You plea bargain, plead guilty, and the assaulting a police officer charge is dismissed.
At that point you might come to your attorney and request that your record be sealed as to the charge of assaulting an officer.
However, since the assaulting an officer charge was part of the overall disposition, you could not seal it.
Likewise, if you have two cases going at once – for instance, if you pick up a DUI on Monday and pick up a separate one on Wednesday – the DA might tell you that he or she will charge you for only one if you plead guilty to the other. If you agree, you cannot seal it.
Other than some exceptions with drug charges, if you have a conviction or the charge is part of a global settlement, you will be unable to seal your record at all.
Like I always say, every case is different and there are many details, which must be thoroughly understood to successfully seal a record. It’s always better to have an attorney representing your case. Call our office today at 303-449-1873 to set up a free consultation.