If you’ve ever been involved with the law in Colorado and have a criminal record, record sealing might offer you a fresh start. Under the purview of Colorado Revised Statute (C.R.S.) 24-72-703, individuals can petition for record sealing within the relevant district, county, or municipal court where the case was heard. This option isn’t just for those previously arrested or convicted; even if your case was dismissed or resulted in acquittal, you can seek to seal your records.
Sealing records in Colorado often happens in a 3-step process.
- Obtaining prior police reports and/or a criminal background check
- Initiating a formal petition with the appropriate court
- Completing the requisite fee payment
It’s important to recognize that not everyone qualifies for this privilege. However, if granted, you gain the legal authority to negate any past arrests or convictions from your record, with only a few exceptions to this rule. For guidance tailored to your unique situation, Kanthaka Group stands ready to assist.
Thinking about sealing records in Colorado Springs? Here are 4 key questions to guide you:
1. Is There a Difference Between Sealing and Expunging?
Yes! Sealing hides your record from most background checks, making it invisible to employers, landlords, and most licensing agencies. However, it’s still accessible to law enforcement and courts. Expunging essentially erases your record, making it as if it never existed. Expungement is much less common and has stricter eligibility requirements.
Sealing your record:
- Process: To seal your record, you need to file a petition with the court where your conviction occurred. The process can be complex, and it’s highly recommended to consult with an attorney familiar with record-sealing laws in Colorado.
- Benefits: If your petition is granted, your record will be restricted from public access, meaning it won’t show up on most background checks conducted by employers, housing providers, and other entities. This can open doors to new opportunities that would otherwise be unavailable to you.
- Process: The process for expungement is similar to that for sealing, but it is generally more difficult to obtain. You will need to prove that expungement is in the best interests of justice.
- Benefits: If your record is expunged, you will no longer be legally obligated to disclose your conviction to anyone, including potential employers and housing providers.
2. Can I start fresh in Colorado with a felony on my record?
Whether you can get a fresh start in Colorado with a felony on your record depends on several factors, including the specific nature of your conviction and how long ago it occurred. Colorado has some of the most progressive laws in the country regarding record sealing and expungement.
Sealing your record:
- Eligible offenses: You may be eligible to seal your record if you have a felony classified as 3 or lower and have completed all your sentence requirements, including probation or parole. Certain violent crimes and sex offenses are not eligible for sealing.
- Eligible offenses: Expungement is a more limited option than sealing, but it can be even more beneficial. If your record is expunged, it is essentially erased as if it never existed. However, expungement is only available for certain offenses, such as juvenile offenses and some low-level misdemeanors.
Securing a fresh start in Colorado with a past conviction requires patience and preparation. While sealing and expungement offer paths to move forward, the road isn’t immediate. Waiting periods vary based on your specific offense and time elapsed, demanding commitment to rehabilitation before you can petition the courts. Court fees and potential lawyer expenses add another layer to consider. Lastly, certain professional licensing boards may still access your sealed or expunged record, so research your field’s regulations to ensure transparency. Despite these hurdles, Colorado’s progressive laws offer a genuine chance at a new beginning – understanding these additional factors empowers you to navigate this path with greater confidence.
3. How to Determine if Someone Qualifies For Record Sealing?
Several factors determine eligibility, including the type of offense, time passed since the incident, and age at the time of the offense. To qualify you would need to meet the following requirements:
- You were arrested but no criminal charges resulted
- Your case was dismissed
- You received an acquittal (you were found not guilty of the charge(s) after trial)
- You completed a diversion agreement
- Your case completes a deferred judgment and sentence and all counts are dismissed.
- Your criminal offenses have received a full and unconditional pardon
Consulting an experienced Colorado Springs criminal defense attorney is the best way to assess your eligibility and navigate the sealing process.
4. How Long Does This Process Take?
The timing can vary depending on the court’s workload and other factors. Usually, it takes 6-12 months for a judge to decide on your petition. Once approved, the sealing process itself typically takes 30-60 days.
Remember: This information is for general guidance only. Every case is unique, and professional legal advice is crucial for navigating record sealing effectively.
Your Path to Renewal, Sealing Records in Colorado Springs
The process of sealing records in Colorado Springs offers hope and a pathway to move beyond past legal challenges. While the steps and criteria might seem intricate, understanding them and seeking experienced counsel can make all the difference. At Kanthaka Group, we’re committed to guiding you through every facet of this journey, ensuring that your rights are upheld and your future remains unburdened by the shadows of the past. Your story matters, and with the right legal support, you can script a brighter chapter ahead. Our Colorado Springs criminal lawyers are here to serve your needs. Give us a call at (719)-633-2222.