In this month’s Feder Law Firm newsletter we will be discussing the process for sealing criminal records in Colorado. The Colorado General Assembly revised and simplified the process for sealing criminal records in August of 2016. The new simplified process does not apply to convictions, but does apply to certain kinds of deferred prosecution and deferred judgment agreements often negotiated with prosecutors.
Reasons to Seal
A criminal record -- including arrests or criminal charges -- will negatively affect future employment opportunities as employers are increasingly performing background checks on prospective employees. If your record is sealed, then to the outside world it did not happen and you can then answer “no” to questions about whether you have ever been arrested or charged with a crime. “Employers, educational institutions, state and local government agencies, officials, and employees shall not, in any application or interview or in any other way, require an applicant to disclose any information contained in sealed records. An application need not, in answer to any question concerning arrest and criminal records information that has been sealed, include a reference to or information concerning the sealed information and may state that no such action has ever occurred. Such an application may not be denied solely because of the applicant’s refusal to disclose arrest and criminal records information that has been sealed.” C.R.S. § 24-72-702(1)(f)(I).
Records Eligible to be Sealed Under the New Simplified Procedure
Records eligible to be sealed under the new procedure include certain cases where the person in interest was acquitted at trial, completed a diversion agreement, or completed a deferred judgment and sentence where the original charges were dismissed after successful completion of the court’s requirements.
Sealing Records Prior to August 2016
Prior to August 2016 the process to seal eligible criminal records involved multiple steps. The party seeking to seal records had to file a separate civil lawsuit called a petition to seal. The court would then order that a hearing be held and require the petitioner to justify why the desire to seal the criminal records outweighed the “public interest” in keeping the records public.
Sealing Records Under the New Simplified Procedure
Under the new procedure, eligible criminal records can be sealed quicker and with less expense. A request to seal records is now made by motion in the same court where the original criminal charges were adjudicated. The motion to seal can be made informally in open court, or in writing at a later date by filing a motion with the court. The law provides that the court shall then “promptly process the defendant’s request to seal the criminal justice records.” C.R.S. § 24-72-702.5. The cost to file the motion also has been reduced.
Does the New Procedure Apply To Old Cases?
The verdict is still out on whether the new simplified procedure can be used to seal records for cases that occurred prior to August 2016, or whether the more arduous old procedure still controls. Different courts have interpreted this differently. The Colorado General Assembly may address this issue in upcoming legislation.
Contact Us with Questions
If you have a criminal record it is important you retain competent counsel to determine whether your record can be sealed, and which procedure will need to be used. There is no need to have future career prospects dimmed through failed criminal background checks when Colorado law now provides a simple remedy that may allow you to seal your record permanently. Thank you so much for reading this month’s Feder Law Firm newsletter. We hope you found it useful. If you would like more information, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. And feel free to share this newsletter with anyone else who may find it helpful.Warm regards,