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A Handbook On Colorado Expungement and Sealing Criminal Record Laws would not be complete unless it details the many and varied laws – updated as recently as 2013 – that apply in this complex area of Colorado Criminal Law.
For the last several years – the Colorado State Legislature has acted to reduce the impact of criminal records on the live of Colorado citizens. To understand how these laws may apply to you – you must start with YOUR specific situation. This article is intended to address all of the changes to date – but the laws are still changing – almost yearly – and H. Michael Steinberg recommends you constantly check to see if the laws apply to you.
You must start the process of learning whether YOUR criminal record is sealable.
1. Was your case completely dismissed – that means were ALL charges dismissed either after a trial (acquittal, by the judge, or by the DA)?
2. If the answer to number 1 is NO – then were you convicted of a drug related offense? If the answer is again – no – then it is likely your case cannot be sealed. Colorado law requires that all of the individual charges be dismissed before a case is eligible to be sealed.
But there are TWO CATEGORIES that are exceptions to this rule.
Section A – Drug Crime Convictions.
Section B – Petty Offense or Municipal Code (City) Convictions.
If you venture to the Colorado State Website – you will find forms and instructions on how to seal your completely dismissed case. To take advantage of these laws – you must fit into one of the following categories.
Dismissed Cases – Sub – Category a: All charges were dismissed or you were acquitted of all charges. This includes any cases where you successfully completed a deferred sentence or deferred prosecution or a Colorado Diversion (LINK) program pursuant to §18-1.3-101, C.R.S.
Dismissed Cases – Sub – Category b: Charges were never filed, the record is the result of an arrest and booking only and the applicable Colorado statute of limitations has expired and charges can no longer be filed.
Dismissed Cases – Sub Category c: You had more than one Colorado criminal case and the case you are seeking to seal now was dismissed as a result of a “global” plea deal. (“global” means where one case was either not filed or filed and then dismissed for a plea in a second case) .. AND MORE THAN 10 YEARS have passed since the case was concluded AND no new charges have been filed against you. and you have had no additional criminal charges.
Colorado Criminal Law ALWAYS has exceptions. Even if your case was completely dismissed -you will NOT qualify to seal your records if:
You have been convicted of a crime in which the facts involve unlawful sexual behavior as defined by C.R.S. §16-22-102(9); OR…
You still owe restitution, fines, court costs, late fees, or other fees ordered by the Court;
The offense pertains to a class 1 or class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense, or to a class A or class B traffic infraction, or a conviction for a violation of DUI or DWAI. (BUT see the law pertaining to sealing DUI/DWAI cases below)
Some Basic Rules Preparatory To Understanding This Category
The Petition to Seal may only be filed in an individual case once every twelve-month period.
All Counts Within The Case Must Be Sealable – If you have been convicted of more than one “count” – (a count is a criminal charge) in a single case, the conviction records may be sealed ONLY IF the records of every conviction resulting from that single case may also be sealed pursuant to Colorado Revised Statutes under 24-72-308.6, and 308.9. All of the charges in the case must be “sealable” under this category.
Cannot Owe Costs, Fines or Restitution – At the time of the filing of the Petition to Seal, you cannot owe restitution, fines, court costs, late fees, or other fees ordered by the Court…. unless the court has waived or vacated the order to pay such fines, fees, costs or restitution.
Easily Unsealed: Unlike sealed, “completely dismissed, non-conviction” records – if you succeed in sealing convictions in this category, the conviction is not truly “vacated.” If you are later convicted in another crime, a judge, on his or her own motion OR upon the motion of any prosecuting attorney, can have the order to seal the conviction record UNSEALED.
Paying The DA’s Costs: Again, unlike the “completely dismissed” category, The DA can charge you for all reasonable attorney fees and costs relating to the petition to seal – these costs must be paid prior to the entry of an order sealing the conviction records.
Files Are Always Available To Law Enforcement: The files are not destroyed, and as noted, criminal justice agencies, or DA’s have access to the files for any lawful purpose relating to the investigation or prosecution of any case will always have access to the file.
Sealing Colorado Drug Crimes next turns on the date of the conviction. Here there are two sets of requirements to be eligible. Pre – July 11, 2011 convictions and Post July 11, 2011 convictions.
If your Colorado Controlled Substance Convictions Was Entered ON OR AFTER July 1, 2011, (24-72-308.6, C.R.S.), then you qualify to have that conviction sealed IF:
Petty Offenses and Class 2 or 3 Misdemeanors Drug Crimes: If your offense is a petty offense or a class 2 or 3 misdemeanor in article 18 of title 18, C.R.S., or a Level 2 or Level 3 drug misdemeanor occurring on or after October 1, 2013, the petition may be filed three years after the later of the date of the final disposition of all criminal proceedings against you or your release from supervision concerning a criminal conviction.
Class 1 Misdemeanor Drug Crimes: If the offense is a class 1 misdemeanor in article 18 of title 18, C.R.S., or a Level 1 drug misdemeanor occurring on or after October 1, 2013, the petition may be filed five years after the later of the date of the final disposition of all criminal proceedings against you or your release from supervision concerning a criminal conviction.
Class 5 or 6 Felony Drug Crimes: If the offense is a class 5 felony or class 6 felony drug possession offense described in section 18-18-403.5, (as it existed prior to October 1, 2013, or 18-18-404, C.R.S., or 18-18-405, C.R.S., as it existed). Here, the petition may be filed seven years after the later of the date of the final disposition of all criminal proceedings against you or your release from supervision concerning a criminal conviction.
EXCEPTION – NOTE THIS – You are NOT Eligible If the conviction was for the Sale, Manufacturing Or Dispensing of a Controlled Substances or for Possession With Intent to Manufacture, Dispense or Sell a Controlled Substance or Attempts to commit those crimes.
If you do NOT fall into any of the above categories then the following requirements apply to you:
If you have been convicted for any other crime under article 18 of title 18, C.R.S., or other felony drug offenses occurring on or after October 1, 2013, your petition may be filed:
Ten years after the later of the date of the final disposition of all criminal proceedings against you or your release from supervision concerning a criminal conviction.
You have not been charged or convicted for a criminal offense in the ten or more years since the date of the final disposition of all criminal proceedings or the date of your release from supervision, whichever is later.
If your Colorado Controlled Substance Convictions Was Entered BEFORE July 1, 2011, (24-72-308.6, C.R.S.), then you qualify to have that conviction sealed IF:
Your drug crime occurred before July 1, 2011 all of the requirements above apply AND the DA has the right to stop the petition by simply objecting with or without a good reason. (Unbelievable when you think that the older drug crime convictions should be more “sealable” as a matter of common sense.. But there it is.)
Effective on May 24, 2013 – The Colorado State Legislature enacted a new and important law – for the first time minor convictions such as those for petty offenses and municipal violations may also be sealed. Here are the requirements – they are simple:
1. The petition is filed three or more years after the date of the final disposition of all criminal proceedings against you or the date of your release from supervision concerning a criminal conviction, whichever is later;
2. You have not been charged or convicted of a felony, misdemeanor, or misdemeanor traffic offense in the three or more years since the date of the final disposition of all criminal proceedings against you or the date of your release from supervision, whichever is later;
3. The conviction records to be sealed are not for a misdemeanor traffic offense committed either by a holder of a commercial learner’s permit or a commercial driver’s license, as defined in section 42-2-402, C.R.S., or by the operator of a commercial motor vehicle as defined in section 42-2-402,C.R.S.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: H. Michael Steinberg – Email The Author – A Denver Colorado Sealing – Expungement Criminal Defense Lawyer – or call his office at 303-627-7777 during business hours – or call his cell if you cannot wait and need his immediate assistance – 720-220-2277.
If you are charged with A Colorado crime or you have questions about Colorado Adult Expungement and Sealing Criminal Record Laws, please call our office. The Law Offices of H. Michael Steinberg, in Denver, Colorado, provide criminal defense clients with effective, efficient, intelligent and strong legal advocacy. We can educate you and help you navigate the stressful and complex legal process related to your criminal defense issue.
H. Michael Steinberg, is a Denver, Colorado criminal defense lawyer with over 30 years of day to day courtroom experience – specializing in Colorado Criminal Law along the Front Range. He will provide you with a free initial case consultation to evaluate your legal issues and to answer your questions with an honest assessment of your options. Remember, it costs NOTHING to discuss your case. Call now for an immediate free phone consultation.
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