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Anyone who commits a crime or is accused of committing a crime gets a stain on their record. These people may have a criminal record that can haunt them forever, alerting others that they have had their entanglement with criminal law in the past. The result? People with criminal records have a difficult time moving on with their lives, finding a job, gaining credibility, etc.—all because of the stain on their records.

People think that only those who are actually convicted of crimes end up with a criminal record. Unfortunately, that’s not true. Even those who are merely accused of a crime or arrested receive that daunting stain on their records—the charges were dismissed or if the person was never actually charged.

That puts those who are wrongfully accused of crimes in a very bad position. It may seem unfair, but that’s just how the system works. Luckily, there is a way to remove a criminal record and start over with a clean slate—sealing records.


Sealing is a court-ordered process and can be argued by an attorney on behalf of a person seeking to seal their criminal records. When an arrest or conviction is sealed, it means that the record is set aside and can only be viewed by a select number of people under special conditions.


The rules to seal records differ for adults and juveniles. For juvenile records, the process is called “expungement” and is much easier than sealing adult records as sealing an adult record has far more rules and requirements.


Everyone wants to have their criminal records sealed. However, it’s not as easy as merely going to court and asking them to seal your records. There are certain requirements and conditions that a person has to meet in order for their records to be sealed.

There are three primary types of sealing cases: (1) where there was no conviction at all, (2) where there was a misdemeanor or felony conviction for a charge that qualifies for sealing, and (3) where there was a municipal conviction for a charge that qualifies for sealing.

The rules are different for sealing records when there was no conviction. In Colorado, you may seal a criminal record under the following circumstances:

  1.  You completed a diversion agreement, and all criminal charges were dismissed or were never charged;
  2. There is an arrest record, but no criminal charges were brought, and the statute of limitations for the offense for which there was an arrest has run; or
  3. There is an arrest record, but no criminal charges were brought, the statute of limitations has not run, and there is no longer an active investigation by law enforcement.

If a person is convicted of a Colorado misdemeanor or felony, they may seal the conviction only if the underlying crime is eligible to be sealed and the required time has passed.

1. The following convictions are NOT eligible to be sealed and will remain as a permanent record:

a. When the only charge was a Class 1 or 2 misdemeanor traffic offense or a Class A or B traffic infraction

b. A conviction for a violation of driving under the influence as defined in C.R.S. § 42-4-1301(1) or (2)

c. A conviction for an offense for which the underlying basis involved unlawful sexual behavior as defined in C.R.S. § 16-22-102(9)

d. A conviction for a violation of child abuse as defined in C.R.S. § 18-6-401

e. A conviction that is subject to one or more of the following provisions:

  • i. Sentences for a crime involving extraordinary aggravating circumstances pursuant to C.R.S. 18- 1.3-401 (8)
  • ii. A sentence for an extraordinary risk crime pursuant to C.R.S. § 18-1.3-401 (10)
  • iii. Sentencing for a crime involving a pregnant victim pursuant to C.R.S. § 18-1.3-401(13)
  • iv. Sentencing for a crime pertaining to a special offender pursuant to C.R.S. § 18-18-407
  • v. Sentencing for a criminal conviction for which the underlying factual basis involves domestic violence as defined in C.R.S. § 18-6-800.3
  • vi. Sentencing for a criminal conviction for a sexual offense pursuant to Part 4 of Article 3 of Title 18 of the Colorado Revised Statutes
  • vii. Sentencing for any crime of violence pursuant to C.R.S. § 18-1.3-406
  • viii. Sentencing for a felony crime enumerated in C.R.S. § 24-4.1-302 (1)
  • ix. Sentencing for a felony offense of cruelty to animals as defined in C.R.S. 18-9-202
  • x. Sentencing for an offense classified as a class 1 or 2 felony or a level 1 drug felony pursuant to any section of Title 18 of the Colorado Revised Statutes
  • xi. Sentencing for an offense classified as a class 3 felony pursuant to any section of Title 18, except for marijuana cultivation under C.R.S. § 18-18-106(8)(a)(II)(B) as it existed prior to July 1, 1992; C.R.S. § 18-18-406(8)(a)(II)(B) as it existed prior to August 11, 2010; or C.R.S. § 18-18- 406(6)(a)(II)(B) as it existed prior to October 1, 2013
  • xii. Sentencing for an offense in violation of Part 1 of Article 6 of Title 18 of the Colorado Revised Statutes
  • xiii. Sentencing for an offense unlawful termination of pregnancy, identity theft, or pandering in violation of: C.R.S. § 18-3.5-103, 18-5- 902, or 18-7-203.

2. For all other convictions, you are eligible to seal under the following wait times (wait times begin from the end of all proceedings or release from supervision, whichever is later):

a. 1 year for petty offenses.

b. 2 years for class 2 misdemeanors, class 3 misdemeanors, any drug misdemeanor, and level 4 drug felonies under C.R.S. §18-18-403.5(2.5).

c. 3 years for class 4 felonies, class 5 felonies, class 6 felonies, level 3 drug felonies, level 4 drug felonies (except under C.R.S. §18-18-403.5(2.5)), and class 1 misdemeanors.

d. 5 years for all other offenses.

3. A person may still be able to seal a conviction for a misdemeanor offense that is otherwise not eligible, if they can prove by clear and convincing evidence that the need for sealing the record is significant and substantial, the passage of time is such that the person is no longer a threat to public safety, and the public disclosure of the record is no longer necessary to protect or inform the public.

If a person is convicted of a Colorado municipal charge, they may seal the conviction only if the following are true:

1. At least three years have elapsed since the end of all proceedings or release from supervision, whichever is later; and

2. There were no convictions for any felony or misdemeanor within the three-year wait time; and

3. The case requested to be sealed contains at least one charge that is not a class 1 misdemeanor traffic offense, class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense, class A traffic infraction, or class B traffic infraction; and

4. The case does not include a deferred judgment and sentence concerning the holder of a commercial driver’s license or the operator of a commercial motor vehicle pursuant to C.R.S § 42-2-402, or an offense for which the factual basis involved unlawful sexual behavior pursuant to C.R.S. § 16-22-102(9).


There are two things that can greatly benefit a person and their ability to seal their records: knowledge of the law and filing all necessary documents properly. Although trying to get your records sealed sounds easy, there is a lot to do, and a large amount of paperwork involved. The entire process of sealing records can be very complex and difficult. The slightest error can harm your case and the court will reject your petition. In Colorado, if your request to seal is denied by the Court, you cannot file to seal for a minimum of 12 months. Additionally, just getting the Court to agree to Order that your record be sealed is not enough to ensure it is actually sealed by all the necessary agencies.
That’s why it’s important to be assisted by a seasoned lawyer in Boulder who knows the ins and outs of sealing cases and has experience and expertise. With our sealing records lawyers, you don’t have to worry about mistakes that can get your petition rejected or dismissed. We’ll work to ensure that your case goes as smoothly as possible and increase the chances of you gaining the most favorable results.


The lawyers at Burnham Law understand how much of a burden a criminal record can be—especially if you were wrongfully arrested or accused of a crime. We want you to have a clean slate so that you can move forward with your life. Burnham Law is backed by the experience and dedication needed to help you get a record sealed. Contact us today.