Record Sealing Attorney in Denver, Colorado

The criminal justice system is designed to punish those who have been convicted of a crime with a penalty proportionate to the severity of the crime. After the sentence has been served, the individual is presumed to have paid their dues and should now be able to be an active participant in civil life. However, for many people who have past convictions, the stain of having a criminal record is something that stays with them and continues to negatively affect their lives.  

There are ways to request record sealing or expungement. Recently, a state bill passed that is expected to automatically seal 54,792 cases a year, according to data put out by the Colorado Legislative Council Staff. This is no doubt good news, but there are still many people who won’t benefit from this and will need to pursue other means. 

If you’d like help with the record sealing process in Colorado, reach out to us at Law Offices of Malcolm B. Seawell. We’re located in Denver and can serve those throughout the metro area, including Aurora, Golden, Lakewood, Arvada, Boulder, and Brighton. Set up a consultation today. 

How Does Record Sealing Differ From Expungement?

It’s important to understand the distinction between record sealing and expungement because the two terms are often conflated.  

  • Record sealing: When you request to have your record sealed, it will no longer be visible to most people performing a background check on you (for example, a potential employer or landlord). However, the record of your conviction won’t disappear altogether, and can still be accessed under certain circumstances. 

  • Expungement: If your record is expunged, it is permanently destroyed and it is like it never existed.

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Who Can Request To Have Their Records Sealed?

There are three main circumstances under which you can request to have your record sealed. 

  1. No charges filed: In these cases, an individual may have been arrested for a crime, but charges were never brought against them. Most of the time, your record will be automatically sealed after your case is dismissed or within a year of the initial arrest. If you were made to complete a diversion program in lieu of charges, your case will be sealed once this is complete.  

  1. You were charged but not convicted: If your case was dismissed or acquitted, it should be sealed automatically without you having to submit a petition.  

  1. You were convicted: Even cases that ended in conviction may still be eligible for sealing, though this is typically for low-level crimes. In some cases, you will have to observe the mandatory waiting period after you’ve served your time before you can petition for sealing, while in other cases your record will be automatically sealed per the new Colorado law. 

Who Is Not Eligible Have Their Records Sealed?

The following convictions will most likely render you ineligible for record sealing: 

  • Violent crimes 

  • Most crimes of a sexual nature 

  • Level 1 drug felonies 

  • Class 1 and 2 felonies 

  • DUIs and DWAIs 

  • Many aggravated crimes 

  • Class 1 and 2 misdemeanor traffic offenses 

Why Should You Seal Your Records? 

Sealing your criminal records provides individuals with a number of benefits including: 

  • Greater access to housing and employment opportunities 

  • The ability to hold a state or local job 

  • Your record can’t be used against you in some court proceedings 

  • You can legally deny having a criminal record if asked about it on a job or housing application 

  • The peace of mind of knowing you’ve atoned for your crime and will not be punished for it any longer 

Is a Sealed Record Ever Able to Be Used? 

Only in very narrow circumstances can a sealed record be used and is limited to the following: 

  • FBI background checks for purchasing firearms 

  • Employer background checks if you’re applying to be a peace or police officer 

  • Some court proceedings 

  • State entities that issue firearm licenses 

  • Federal and state agencies for use by law enforcement 

What Is the Process to Get Records Sealed?

You have two main options for sealing your records in Colorado: by petition, or by waiting for the automatic sealing process. If you wish to petition, you may find it helpful to work with a criminal defense attorney who can evaluate your case and help you file a petition with the district court where your arrest is filed. You still must wait a certain period of time before you can do this, and this depends on the type of crime you were convicted of. This generally lasts from one to five years, though this may extend to as long as 10 years if you have multiple convictions. You also must have remained crime free and paid any restitution completely. 

For automatic sealing, there is a set statute of limitations depending on your crime. For instance, civil infractions will be sealed after four years while misdemeanors will take seven years. Englewood, Castle Rock, Littleton, and Highlands Ranch.

Record Sealing Attorney in Denver, Colorado 

If you’d like to learn more about sealing your criminal record, reach out to our attorney at Law Offices of Malcolm B. Seawell. No matter where you live in Colorado—including Englewood, Castle Rock, Littleton, Highlands Ranch, and the rest of the state—our team is here to help you move forward.