Are Your Records Eligible for Sealing?
You may only petition the Court to seal arrest or criminal records if you meet one of the following requirements: 1. All charges were dismissed or the Defendant was acquitted of all charges. 2. There is only an arrest record, no charges were filed in a Court, and the statute of limitations for the offense for which the person was arrested that has the longest statute of limitations has run. 3. The Defendant entered into a diversion agreement pursuant to 18-1.3-101, C.R.S. 4. The Defendant had a case that was dismissed due to a plea agreement in a separate case and 10 or more years have passed since the final disposition of all criminal proceedings and no additional criminal charges since the date of the final disposition of all criminal proceedings have been filed against the Defendant. Reasons you could not seal your records include having been convicted of a sexual offense, most traffic offenses, if you still owe monies to the Court and a few other exceptions.
Draft and File Petition to Seal.
You do not have to be an attorney to draft and file a Petition to Seal. If you make a mistake, however, or the Petition is denied for another reason, you will have to wait for a year to refile. Because the stakes are so high many choose to have an attorney draft and file the Petition to Seal.The Petition related forms themselves are relatively straightforward with the most important part being the paragraphs on the Petition to Seal where the court is told why harm to you is greater than the public's right to know. In other words, tell the Court what opportunities are you being denied by having your records unsealed. Often times the Petitioner will list job opportunities or public service opportunities lost as reasons to seal records. Each Petition is unique. The required forms, and related instructions, are all available on-line, however, you may wish to consult an attorney or have them draft and file the Petition to Seal.
The Petition to Seal Hearing and the Order to Seal
The Court will review the Petition to Seal materials and if the are in order, will notify law enforcement, the prosecuting agency, etc. If the Court does not hear back from anyone objecting to the Petition to Seal the Court can issue an order sealing your records. If anyone objects, the Court is likely to schedule a hearing on the matter. If the records are sealed the Court, law enforcement and criminal justice agencies will still have access to the file(s). The file(s) are not destroyed (expunged, unless they are juvenile records). If someone inquires, other than a criminal justice agency, all agencies must respond that "no such record exists with respect to such person." After the Order to Seal is sent to all relevant agencies, the records are sealed, usually within a few weeks.