Colorado Springs Expungements Lawyer Helping you Clear Your Name
Often, people talk about the expungement of a criminal record and the sealing of a record as the same thing, but in fact, they are very different. In an expungement, the record is completely destroyed, and life goes on as if it never existed. No one can ever access it again—not even law enforcement or the courts. Sealing a record is different. A sealed record is kept from public view, but it still exists and can still be accessed in certain cases and by certain people or entities. In most cases, Colorado does not allow for the expungement of the criminal records of adults except in cases of mistaken identity, though in some cases, the record can be sealed.
For juvenile offenses, however, expungement is available for all but the most serious convictions for felony sex offenses or extremely violent crimes. Though expungement is not available for most non-juvenile criminal records, it is sometimes possible to have adult records sealed and kept from the eyes of potential employers, landlords, or nosy friends and neighbors. If you are interested in having your juvenile record expunged or your adult criminal record sealed, contact the experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys at The Lux Law Firm, PLLC for a free consultation about your case. Call our Colorado Springs office today at 719-496-2177.
What Juvenile Offenses Can Be Expunged?
Kids will be kids, and it is often unfair to hold the mature adult responsible for crimes that were committed before the offender was old enough to fully understand the consequences of their bad behavior. For this reason, Colorado allows the expungement of certain juvenile criminal records, including crime arrests and convictions, unless for a felony sex crime or a crime of extreme violence, and underage drinking and driving arrests and convictions.
The expungement of the record is not automatic and requires that the offender petitions the court for the expungement. If it is granted, the record will not show up on background checks of any kind, and the offender can legally say that they have never been arrested or convicted. It is as if the record never existed. Not everyone is eligible for expungement, so it is wise to seek skilled legal counsel from an experienced expungement attorney to figure out your options.
What Kinds of Records Can Be Sealed And What Does That Mean?
Certain adult records can be sealed under Colorado law. When a record is sealed, it will not show up on background checks, and you are not required to disclose anything from the sealed record to anyone. The difference between sealing a record and expunging it is that the sealed record can still be accessed with a court order, and it can be unsealed at a later date in certain very specific circumstances. However, in most of the ways that matter, the results of sealing a record are the same as expunging it: you don’t have to admit that it ever existed to anyone, and no one can access it without a court order, which would not be available to anyone but law enforcement or the courts, generally. Sealing your record can help you become eligible for jobs in law enforcement, nursing, or teaching, for example, when having an unsealed criminal record might disqualify you.
The one exception is for those seeking to be licensed attorneys; they must disclose any criminal record, even if it has been sealed. The kinds of records that are possibly eligible to be sealed in Colorado include arrest records for which the defendant was not convicted, petty offenses including petty drug offenses, certain misdemeanors, class 4, 5, and 6 felonies, and level 2, 3, or 4 drug felonies. Several different factors will determine how long after your arrest or conviction you must wait to petition for records to be sealed. Consult an experienced criminal defense attorney for details.
Does the Judge Have to Seal My Record if I’m Eligible?
While it would be unusual for a judge to deny a request for a seal if all of the eligibility requirements are met, it is within the judge’s discretionary authority to do so. In the unlikely event that your request is denied, the court will send you a letter with a detailed explanation of the reasons for the denial. If there were mistakes on the application, it might be possible to correct the mistakes and resubmit the application. To ensure that your application is made correctly and that you correctly understand your eligibility for having your record sealed, call the experienced expungements attorneys at The Lux Law Firm today at 719-496-2177. We are here to help you understand your options and get started on the process of clearing your name.
What if I Waived My Right to Seal My Record as Part of a Plea Deal?
Some prosecutors have included a provision in plea deals that waives a person’s right to petition for the record to be sealed in the future. In 2019, Colorado began prohibiting that provision. If you signed a plea deal prior to 2019 that contained the waiver of the right to petition for seal, you will likely still be able to bring a petition since the law has changed. The new law, called the “Increased Eligibility for Criminal Record Sealing” law, not only outlawed waivers to sealing rights in plea deals but also created a streamlined process for record sealing in certain cases. You could be eligible for the streamlined process if y case is completely dismissed, you are acquitted on all counts, you complete a diversion agreement when a criminal case is filed, or you complete a deferred judgment and sentence, and all counts are dismissed.
How Do I Know if I am Eligible for Record Sealing or Expungement?
Every case is different, and eligibility for record sealing or expungement can be confusing to figure out. At The Lux Law Firm, our knowledgeable expungements lawyers will bring all of their experience in the criminal justice system to bear in explaining your options and helping you through the record sealing or expungement process. Call us today at 719-496-2177 for a free consultation.