Can any record be expunged?
There are many reasons someone may want to expunge or seal their record. Many people believe that your record is automatically expunged or cleared if your charges are dropped, dismissed or if you are acquitted. This is not true. These actions stay on your record and it is up to you to request that your record be sealed or expunged. By failing to do this you may be hindered when trying to find a job, get into college, or rent a home.
First you must understand exactly what your record is and the difference between expunging a record and sealing a record. A criminal history record is a history of your arrests and convictions. This history is what is reported to jobs, schools, and rental companies when they check your criminal record through reporting agencies. These reporting agencies run their reports from public records. As a general rule, these agencies are not supposed to report past the last seven years, however, if the arrest resulted in a conviction, then the agencies can report the conviction forever. “Sealing” a record essentially makes the record invisible or unavailable, however, it is still available to law enforcement and prosecution. “Expunging” your record is the actual destruction of this record, however, in Colorado the term “expungement” only applies to juvenile records and not all records can be expunged. Some records require notice to victims and a hearing before the Court will expunge a record.
How do you seal a record?
How does one petition to have their convictions sealed or expunged? In Colorado, some cases may not be expunged or sealed if there is a conviction or juvenile adjudication reflected on one’s criminal record. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. If you are convicted of a crime, pursuant to Colorado Statutes §§ 24-72-704, you may file for a petition to have the conviction sealed “ten or more years after the date of the final disposition of all criminal proceedings against the defendant or the release of the defendant from supervision concerning a criminal conviction, whichever is later; and” if you have “not been charged or convicted for a criminal offense in the ten or more years since the date of the final disposition of all criminal proceedings against him or her or the date of the defendant’s release from supervision, whichever is later.” If the Court deems the petition is sufficient, you will be mailed a notice with a court date to appear at a hearing in front of a Judge. At this hearing the Judge will determine if “harm to the privacy of the defendant or the dangers of unwarranted, adverse consequences to the defendant outweigh the public interest in retaining the conviction records.” If it is found that the conviction is causing more harm to you than the public, the judge may order the conviction to be sealed.
What type of records can be sealed?
In Colorado there are multiple types of records that can be sealed. Arrests that do not result in charges are one of the most commonly requested records to be sealed. You may also petition for your record to be sealed for arrests for which charges were dropped, you were acquitted, as well as petty offenses. If you take a plea bargain in a different case that results in the arrest being dismissed, you may petition. You may also seal your record if the statute of limitations has run and no charges were ever filed. While there are many more types of records that may be sealed it is best to talk to your attorney about your options. Keep in mind that not all records can be sealed. Records not eligible for being sealed include sexual offenses, domestic violence convictions generally (with some exceptions), DUI convictions, class 1 or 2 misdemeanors, traffic offences and class A or B traffic infractions.