In Colorado, juveniles can expunge their criminal history, while adults can only seal their criminal convictions. Expungement indicates that the records have been destroyed, whereas sealing a record only makes the conviction unavailable for viewing by the general public.
Expungement for Adults
For adult convictions, Colorado allows both misdemeanor and felony convictions to be sealed under certain circumstances. A waiting period is required (usually 10 years in Colorado) before a petition to seal the record may be filed.
Additionally, a criminal conviction may be reversed in cases where a mistake was made in the original ruling or when new evidence has become available to establish a defendant’s innocence.
Circumstances for Sealing Criminal Records
Individuals may file a petition to seal criminal records if:
All charges against them were dismissed;
The individual was acquitted;
No charges were actually filed in court (only an arrest record remains);
The case was dismissed as a result of a plea bargain agreement,at least 10 years have passed since the final disposition was entered, and the defendant has no further crimes charged against them.
A petition for a sealed record is unavailable when:
Fees or other types of restitution are still owed;
The conviction was for certain types of crimes related to unlawful sexual conduct;
The violation involves a traffic infraction.
Associated Fees and Paperwork
The fee for filing for a juvenile expungement is $20 per document. Filing fees for sealing adult records are $224.
All forms for expungement and sealing records in Colorado are available at any courthouse or online. Criminal convictions involving controlled substances require an entirely different set of forms.
Implications of a Successful Expungement
If the court has successfully granted the petition, the public cannot access the sealed record without a proper court order (which is generally difficult for the public to obtain). From that point forward, the defendant my lawfully indicate in an employment application that the criminal record does not exist.
Consulting an Attorney
A criminal lawyer can help guide you through the expungement process. He can also speak on your behalf during court and can help you file all the necessary paperwork. In other words, the lawyer can present your case to the judge in a better light than you may be able to.
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