What Is Expungement or Sealing of Criminal Records in Colorado?
Individuals who have previously been convicted of felony offenses, whether incarcerated or not, often have to live with collateral consequences of that conviction. These entail barriers that limit their ability to get employment, housing, and education. Sometimes they also lose their voting rights.
The good thing is that a past drug conviction in Colorado doesn’t have to prevent you from living your best life. Criminal defense lawyers in Colorado can help you have the record expunged or sealed so that it doesn’t appear in your criminal records in the future.
Expunging Criminal Records in Colorado
Expungement of criminal records in Colorado is available for many types of crimes committed by juveniles or offenders under 18. Juvenile convictions, also known as adjudications, are eligible for expungement if the criteria are met.
An expungement also applies to underage drinking and drinking convictions for someone who was between the age of 18 and 21 at the time of the offense. However, some criminal cases don’t qualify for expungement, such as felony sex offenses or very violent crimes.
Sealing Criminal Records in Colorado
Sealing of criminal records applies to adult offenders in Colorado. Generally, it’s for offenses not associated with a conviction. For example, you can seal records whose charges were dismissed or if you were acquitted of all the charges at trial.
However, some cases are not eligible under any circumstances. For example, trials that only involved traffic violations or those dismissed after postponed verdicts or sentences. Cases that may qualify for sealing even though they had convictions associated with them include:
- Some minor drug possession charges
- Most municipal offenses
- Some felonies at the lower levels
- Some misdemeanors and petty offenses
Before asking the court to seal your past criminal record for which you qualify, the law stipulates a specific waiting time. The length of the waiting time depends on the case type. Consider consulting a skilled Colorado Springs expungement lawyer for guidance on all these factors.
What Criminal Records Can Be Sealed in Colorado?
Your eligibility to seal your past criminal records depend on a few factors:
- The type of criminal case
- Your age
- Whether you were convicted
- When the case was closed or dismissed
The law considers a case closed once there is a final disposition and the sentencing terms are complete. Your Colorado Springs expungement lawyer can evaluate your case and help you determine if it qualifies to be sealed. Generally, most convictions in Colorado are sealable, apart from convictions that fall under one of the following categories:
- Class 1 felonies: They are crimes punishable by life in prison, including first-degree murder, kidnapping, assault, and treason.
- Class 2 felonies: They are the second most serious category of felonies in Colorado, punishable by 8 to 24 years imprisonment. Examples are second-degree sexual assault, murder, and human trafficking.
- Class 3 felonies: These are punishable by 4 to 12 years in prison and fines of between $30,000. Examples are an attempt to commit a class 2 felony, conspiracy to commit a class 2 felony, property theft, and vehicular homicide. These crimes remain on the offender’s criminal record and cannot be sealed.
- Level 1 drug felony: These drug crimes carry between 8 to 32 years of imprisonment and may also attract a fine of between $5,000 and $1 million. The minimum prison term is 12 years if the crime involves exasperating situations. Convictions of level 1 drug felonies don’t qualify for sealing.
If your past drug conviction meets the criteria of being a level 1 drug felony, it may never be sealed. However, if it is a juvenile-related drug crime, it may be expunged under the following conditions:
Underage Alcohol and Marijuana Convictions from July 1 2014
Convictions for consuming or possessing alcohol, marijuana, or marijuana paraphernalia while under 21 years may be sealable if:
- It has been at least one year since the date of the final disposition of all criminal proceedings against you or since your release from a criminal conviction supervision, whichever comes later
- You also must have obtained a verified copy of your criminal history. It should be at least 20 days before the date of filing the record-sealing petition.
Let your drug crime lawyer in Colorado Springs help you check if your drug conviction meets these conditions. They can also help you file a petition to have the record sealed.
Who Can See Expunged or Sealed Records?
Once you delete or seal your past criminal record, the courts erase or destroy it, meaning the public can’t access it. Landlords and employees cannot access the record, significantly improving your chances for employment, housing, and other benefits. If anyone asks if you have a criminal record, you can deny ever being arrested or convicted of a crime.
However, it doesn’t mean that no one can see them, as the following will still have access:
- Law enforcement agencies
- Prosecution entities
Courts can use your expunged or sealed prior records in future trials. They can form the basis of your sentencing for future criminal offenses. An experienced criminal defense attorney in Colorado can aggressively fight to ensure you don’t get harsher penalties based on previous convictions.
A Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney Helping You Get a Fresh Start in Life
Having your past drug conviction expunged can benefit you in many ways. Most significantly, it can help you erase your criminal record and give you a chance to start afresh while opening up opportunities in employment, education, and housing. If you have a past drug conviction you’d like to have deleted in Colorado, consult a skilled expungement attorney in Colorado Springs.
They can evaluate your case, check your records, and provide legal guidance. Our firm has been providing aggressive criminal defense to clients in Colorado for many years. Our experience puts us in a position to offer aggressive legal representation to defend our client’s rights, and we can help you in your case. Talk to a professional in Colorado Springs for legal guidance.