Even if all charges are ultimately dropped, no one wants to deal with the stigma that a permanent criminal record carries. Under Colorado law, criminal records can be sealed – but only under a special circumstances. An individual may petition to have his or her record sealed, if:
- Charges were never filed,
- Charges were filed, but later dismissed, or
- A defendant was exonerated of all charges at trial.
A petition to have one’s criminal records sealed is a civil proceeding. It is a process completely unrelated to the underlying criminal case, and is filed in the District Court of the judicial district which gave rise to the case.
Once the petition is filed, the matter is set for hearing, and notice given to all vested parties. These parties can include, but are not limited to the applicable law enforcement agency, the District Attorney’s office, and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
The notice serves to inform the parties of their right to object to the petition. If no objections have been filed during the time period outlined in the notice, the petition could be granted without a hearing in front of a judge. If however, one or more objections are filed, a hearing will be scheduled. After weighing evidence at the hearing, a determination will be made by the Court – is the individuals’ right to privacy greater than the need to keep the information a matter of public record?
If the petition to seal is granted, the vested agencies will receive a court order instructing them to seal their records. It is important to note that this will not prevent access to the record by a small group of officials. It does, however, make it illegal for the record to be made public.
Not all criminal records in Colorado are eligible to be sealed. Some of those that can, include:
- Adult Criminal Justice Records,
- Drug Convictions,
- Underage Drinking and Driving Convictions,
- Juvenile Records,
- Criminal conviction for posting an intimate photograph of a person online,
- Conviction for particular offenses committed by victims of human trafficking, or
- DNA evidence gathered by law enforcement or prosecution.
There are, however, exceptions and special circumstances regarding all individual cases. An attorney should be consulted for advice on your unique situation.
For those eligible for record sealing, living without the stigma of a criminal record can have a tremendous positive impact on their lives. It allows an individual to honestly answer ‘no’ to any question asking about previous arrests, charges, and criminal records.
Contact Our Fort Collins Criminal Defense Lawyers
If you are interested in having your criminal record sealed, it is important to speak to one of our experienced Fort Collins criminal defense lawyers immediately. Our lawyers can help you determine if you are eligible to have your criminal record sealed. Call The Cooney Law Firm at 970-484-9911 or contact me online to schedule a time to sit down and discuss your circumstances.