Criteria for Sealing Records
Sealing criminal records is a strict and time-consuming process. There are a number of criteria that must be met to seal a record. The first step is to determine if the crime is sealable. Class felonies 1-3 cannot be sealed. These are more serious offenses such as first-degree murder. Class four, five, and six felonies can be sealed three years after conviction.
If the charges get dismissed, individuals can seal the record immediately. Level one drug felonies, class one, class two, or class three felonies cannot be sealed. Level two drug felonies can be sealed after five years and classes after that can be sealed after three years.
Felony convictions of sexual assault, domestic violence, or DUIs cannot be sealed. Refer to the Colorado Legal Defense Group for a list and explanation of felonies. An individual must complete probation and owe no restitution to be eligible for the sealing process.
Once it is determined if the crime is sealable, an individual must also determine they met the eligibility requirements of completed probation, not owning restitution, and have the resources and payment required to seal a record. The filing fee ranges from $65 - $224 to seal convictions.
Once the eligibility of sealing the conviction is determined, an individual needs to obtain their arrest and criminal records to ensure proper sealing of the case. These records can be located at the court records, The Colorado State Criminal History, or through police records where the arrest happened. An individual can contact any of these entities to obtain their records. A web-based platform is also available that can assess criminal records immediately, however, there is a fine attached to this.
After obtaining the records, individuals can start to fill out the forms and pay the filing fee. Please click here to view the instructions for sealing arrest and criminal records when no charges filed or visit the Colorado Judicial Branch website for additional forms and instructions.
Once the appropriate forms are completed, an individual will bring these to the court. An individual must supply the court with as many copies as instructed in the instruction forms and pay the filing fee. If sealing separate convictions, an individual must bring a separate form for each conviction and pay the filing fee for both. If an individual is unable to pay, the Motion to File without Payment and Supporting Financial Affidavit form must be filled out and taken to the court where it will be decided if the individual is required to pay.
Filling out the forms completely and correctly is crucial, failure to do so can result in the petition being denied. Once the case is filed with the court, the court will review the documents and decide if it will be accepted with no hearing, if a hearing needs to be set, or if it will be denied with no hearing. If there were no charges filed and it was only an arrest record, no hearing will be set. If there was a conviction, a hearing will be set. If the individual is ineligible for sealing, does not complete the form in its entirety, or completes the form incorrectly, the petition will be denied without a hearing.
Individuals should always be prepared for a hearing and to provide reasons why the record sealing is being requested. Once the petition is granted, it is the responsibility of the individual to alert the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and pay the $65 fee and to notify additional agencies that may be included in the order with a signed copy of each order. This is essential in ensuring the record is sealed, failure to do so will result in an unsealed record.
Once the record is sealed, individuals now have a tremendous barrier lifted from successful re-entry into society and can legally claim they have never had an arrest record when applying for jobs, housing, college, etc.
Refer to the Colorado Legal Services Flyer for information on how their services can help seal records.