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Sealing or Expunging Criminal Records

For many people, it can feel impossible to escape the ever-looming presence of their prior criminal history. It’s an unfortunate fact that those with a criminal record have issues navigating their daily life. It may increase the difficulty of obtaining employment, a professional license, and could significantly impact a person’s professional and personal future. Thankfully, the state of Colorado does offer those with a criminal record a way to move on from their past.

If you’ve been charged with a crime in the past, you can attempt to erase your criminal history by petitioning for expungement or a record seal. Sealing your record will automatically make your criminal record invisible to the public. That means your future employers will not be able to pull it from a background check. Expunging your records will mean destroying them entirely. Expungement, however, is only reserved for juvenile offenses, underaged drinking, and driving convictions in the state of Colorado.

Record Seal Defense Attorney in Denver, Colorado

There are a number of circumstances in which you may be eligible to have your record erased or sealed. Call Law Office of Matthew A. Martin, P.C. for a free initial consultation to see if you qualify for record seal or expungement. We can determine if your circumstances allow you to file an application and what you’ll need to be successful.

The expungement of criminal records and the sealing of criminal records are legal rights, and they are areas of the law in which criminal defense attorney Matthew Martin can be of legal assistance. Many people do not know that an arrest alone goes on a permanent record, even if charges were never filed. Call Law Office of Matthew A. Martin, P.C. now to get the facts on Colorado law and your case.

Law Office of Matthew A. Martin, P.C. accepts clients throughout the greater Denver area including Douglas County, Adams County, Boulder County, Arapahoe County, Jefferson County, and Broomfield County.

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What is Better Expunged or Sealed Criminal Records in Colorado?

It’s common for people to interchange the terms sealing or expungement in reference to criminal records. However, under Colorado law they have different definitions and are two separate legal processes. Expungement in Colorado only exists for juveniles, underaged drinking and driving, or those who were arrested due to mistaken identity.

When your record has been expunged, it’s been destroyed completely. Both state officials and law enforcement will not be able to access your prior history. The state of Colorado will only allow you to expunge your record under very specific circumstances. It’s really only reserved for juveniles and is difficult to obtain.

Sealing your record, on the other hand, restricts the availability of your criminal record. It will no longer be available to the public, meaning your future job/landlord won’t see any prior arrest or charges on your record. You can also state on an interview that you’ve never been charged/arrested with a crime lawfully. While the public can’t access it, law enforcement and the district attorney’s office both will still be able to pull up your records.


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How to Expunge Record in Colorado

The first step is to see if you even qualify for expungement. The expunging process is only limited to very specific crimes and offenders. Under Colorado law, the only records that are able to be expunged include:

  • Juvenile criminal records
  • Underaged drinking and driving records (UDD)
  • Arrest records for cases of mistaken identity

It’s important to note that you cannot expunge any crime committed by a juvenile. Certain juvenile records are not eligible for expungement if they contain the following:

  • Adjudication as a violent sex offender or an aggravated juvenile offender
  • Conviction for a traffic offense or infraction
  • Conviction for a felony sex offense
  • Conviction for homicide or a comparable offense

You can petition the court for expungement if you qualify. Usually, you will have to wait a certain amount of time before petitioning as the court requires a waiting period to pass first. However, there are cases where there is no wait to petition the court for an expungement. These specific cases include:

  • Defendants who were found not guilty or not delinquent of the charge at trial
  • Defendant completed their diversion program, deferred judgement, or adjudication
  • Defendant finished an informal adjustment
  • The charges were dropped by the district attorney
  • The defendant was arrested, no investigation occurred, and the statute of limitations has already passed

Defendants with an UDD criminal conviction are able to petition for expungement immediately after they turn 21 years of age. Record expungement of arrests involving mistaken identity must occur no later than 90 days after an investigation determines the arrest was a mistake.

Once your petition is sent to the appropriate court, you’ll have to wait for their decision. Most expungement cases if they qualify are granted as long as the petitioner is eligible, and the forms were completely correctly. In some cases, a hearing will be scheduled.

If the court schedules a hearing, then at the hearing you can present your case as to why your record is eligible for expungement. At the hearing you can bring legal representation and the arresting officer may appear at the scheduled court date. If the expungement is granted you’ll receive an “order to expunge” in the mail.


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Expungement Waiting Period for Juvenile Delinquents

  • Defendants who’ve finished probation – 1 Year
  • Contact with law enforcement did not lead to a referral to another agency – 1 Year
  • Defendant received an unconditional release from parole supervision or from a commitment to the Colorado DHS – 3 Years
  • Defendant was released from their sentence as a repeat/mandatory offender – 5 Years

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How to Get Your Criminal Record Sealed in Colorado?

Similar to expungement, you’ll have to find out if you even qualify for a record seal. There are many factors that go into the decision of whether a person can seal their record or not. A few of these factors include:

  • The type of crime
  • The age of the defendant
  • If the defendant was convicted
  • When the case was closed or if it was dismissed

Cases of arrest or charges that don’t result in a conviction are eligible for a record seal. These types of cases where a record seal is possible includes:

  • If the defendant was ultimately not charged with a crime
  • If the defendant was eventually dismissed of all charges
  • If the defendant was acquitted and found “not guilty” of all charges

If your case ended in any of the above outcomes, then you’re eligible for a record seal immediately. Please note that deferrals or defendants who had their charges dropped due to a plea deal are not eligible for an immediate record seal.

However, if your case didn’t ultimately have one of the outcomes listed above, you’ll have to go through a waiting period before qualifying. Assuming all other requirements are met, the waiting period for sealing your criminal record can be found below.

Type of Colorado Conviction: Waiting Period to Seal Record:
Arrests that did not result in a conviction Immediately after the case closes
Petty offenses & petty drug offenses 1 Year
Class 2 or 3 misdemeanors 2 Years
Drug misdemeanors 2 Years
Level 3 and 4 drug felonies 3 Years
Class 1 misdemeanor 3 Years
All other offenses 5 Years
Most municipal and misdemeanor offenses by victims of human trafficking 1 Year

You will then petition the court if you’re eligible for a record seal. Similar to expungement, they will either grant the seal or schedule a hearing. The hearing will then determine the court’s decision and you will receive the court order in the mail if your record was sealed.


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Can You Seal a Felony Conviction in Colorado?

Depending on the case, you may be able to seal a felony conviction. The only felony convictions that are eligible for a record seal include:

  • Class 4 felonies
  • Class 5 felonies
  • Level 2 drug felonies
  • Level 3 drug felonies
  • Level 4 drug felonies

The following are types of felonies that will never qualify for a record seal.


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Additional Resources

Sealing of Arrest & Criminal Records | Colorado Judicial Branch – Visit the official website for the Colorado Judicial Branch to learn about how you can seal your record. Access the site to find instructions, necessary forms, who to contact, and where you can find support.

Colorado Laws on Record Sealing | CRS – Visit the official website for the Colorado Revised Statutes to read up on their laws for record sealing. Access the site to learn the definitions, process, whose exempt from record sealing, and other valuable information.


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Expungement & Record Sealing Attorney in Denver, Colorado

When applying for expungement or sealing, it is the job of an attorney to prepare what is called a “petition” to the court. Your lawyer is required to explain why they think that you are eligible for the concealment of your offenses and the reasons that you would like the change. A hearing will then be held, based upon your petition.

Face it: having a criminal record can affect many areas of your life:

  • Getting a job
  • Being accepted to college
  • Renting a home
  • Getting a loan
  • Obtaining a license or insurance
  • Owning a gun
  • Adopting a child
  • Being accepted for volunteer work

Avoid the obstacles you may encounter in the future by applying for a record seal or expungement with Law Office of Matthew A. Martin, P.C.. Matthew Martin has the experience and skill you need to seek a fresh start and put the past behind you. Call (303) 725-0017 to set up your first consultation free.


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