What You Need to Know About Sealing and Expungement in Colorado
A criminal record following you around can have a disastrous impact on your life. It can keep you from being employed, impact your ability to find an apartment, and even lower your chances of getting a loan from the bank. Thankfully, there are ways to get your record cleared; the two main ways being sealing and expungement.
But there are rules.
After facing an arrest or conviction, it is only natural to want your record cleared. One way to accomplish that is to have the record sealed, meaning that only law enforcement will be able to see your arrests or convictions. Keeping your record from the public eye can help you find a new job, get a loan, and even apply for an apartment.
However, not everyone is eligible to have their record sealed. Whether you can get your record sealed will depend on what crime you were arrested for, whether you were convicted, your age at the time of the arrest, and if the case was dismissed or closed. A record cannot be sealed in Colorado if the case is not yet closed, which only happens when there has been a final disposition and all of the sentencing terms were completed.
If you were arrested for a crime but were never actually charged for the crime, then you are eligible for a sealing. In fact, you can request that your record be sealed immediately once the charges have been dropped. You can also request an immediate seal if your case was dismissed, as in there was no conviction, or if you were acquitted, which means you were found not guilty. The moment the case is closed, so long as you were not convicted, you can have your criminal record sealed.
But what if you were convicted? Well, that doesn’t bar you from having your record sealed eventually. First, all sentencing terms must be completed. This means you cannot request a seal if you are still in jail or prison, or if you are still on parole. You must be completely done with your sentence before your record can be officially sealed. On top of that, certain crimes require certain time limits following your sentence completion. It is best to check with an attorney on whether or not the appropriate amount of time has passed before you apply for a record seal.
However, not all convictions are created equal. There are some crimes that bar you from having your record sealed at all. Those include:
- Felonies class 3-1
- Misdemeanors class 2 and 1
- Level 1 drug felonies
- Sex crimes
- Domestic violence crimes
- Traffic infractions class A and B
- Any crimes involving a commercial driver’s license
These crimes mark you as a potential danger to the community, or as a potentially dangerous employee, which is why they are not sealable. For example, if a truck driver was convicted of a DUI, it is important that potential employers know he cannot be trusted behind the wheel.
Sealing vs. Expungement
Considering all of these restrictions for sealing, you may be wondering if an expungement would be a better option for you. Well, expungements in Colorado are actually more restricted than seals. Expungements, which are when your criminal record is destroyed rather than just made invisible to the public, are only available for those arrested as juveniles. If you were arrested when you were 18 or older, then you do not qualify for an expungement.
Expert Help with Sealing and Expungement
Going through the process of requesting a sealing or expungement is lengthy, complicated, and exhausting. There is paperwork that needs to be sent in, requirements that must be met, and time limits that must be adhered to. Getting an approval is hard work, and it requires the help of an expert Colorado Springs criminal defense attorney. We at The Bussey Law Firm, P.C., have helped many clients get their records cleared, and we may be able to help you too. For a free consultation, call us at (719) 475-2555. We may just be the firm for you.