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In 2001, the Colorado State Legislature made it easier to seal certain kinds of Drug convictions.
Sealing criminal records – drug offenses – time periods – district attorney approval – no reporting of sealed convictions – advisement of rights – applicability July 1, 2011.
The act amends the petition process for sealing certain drug offense criminal conviction records. The time period the defendant has to wait to petition the court to seal the record depends on the severity of the offense.
In order to have the record sealed, the defendant must show the court that he or she has not been convicted of another offense
been charged with another offense since the discharge of the offense for which the defendant is seeking to have sealed.
The district attorney has the right to object to the petition or veto the request for all offenses except petty offenses. Also depending on the severity of the offense, the court can immediately order the record sealed, can consider the petition based on established criteria, or can hold a hearing to decide the petition.
The court, in making the decision whether to seal conviction records, considers the privacy interests of the defendant against the public interest in retaining the conviction records as open records. Conviction records cannot be sealed if the defendant still owes court-ordered restitution, fines, or fees.
A defendant who successfully petitions a court for the sealing of conviction records must provide the Colorado bureau of investigation (bureau) and each custodian of the conviction records with a copy of the court’s order to seal the conviction records and pay to the bureau any costs related to the sealing of the conviction records in the custody of the bureau.
Employers and certain institutions and agencies are prohibited from requiring an applicant to disclose information in sealed conviction records. Law enforcement will report that there are no public records in response to inquiries about sealed criminal conviction records. The office of the state court administrator must post on its web site a list of all petitions to seal conviction records that are filed with a district court.
The act prohibits a district court from granting a petition to seal conviction records until at least 30 days following the posting.
The sentencing court, the probation department, and the defendant’s parole officer must advise the defendant of the right to seal conviction records under the appropriate circumstances.
The provisions of the bill apply to convictions entered on and after July 1, 2011. For convictions prior to July 1, 2011, the time frames of the bill are applicable but sealing of the criminal records is available only with the consent of the district attorney and subsequent court review and approval.
Sealing or expunging criminal records. During the 2011 session, the General Assembly enacted two bills that expand the group of offenders who are able to seal or expunge certain criminal records. A third bill expands the group of custodians required to seal criminal records.
House Bill 11-1051 clarifies that DNA records are expunged if a person is convicted of any non-felony offense. Previously, state law provided that DNA records would be expunged only if a person was convicted of an offense that was not a felony under the Criminal Code (Title 18) of the Colorado Revised Statutes.
House Bill 11-1167 amends the process for sealing the record of a conviction under Colorado’s Uniform Controlled Substances Act by reducing a waiting period for certain classes of convictions and by authorizing the process for additional classes of convictions. Under current law – a defendant may petition the court to seal certain conviction records 10 or more years after the completion of the sentence in a case, provided that the defendant has not been charged for any criminal offense in the intervening 10 years.
Records of convictions for most controlled substance-related misdemeanor offenses, petty offenses, offenses against municipal ordinances, and class 5 and class 6 felonies may be sealed. However, records of convictions of specific misdemeanor offenses, such as sexual offenses and child abuse, may not be sealed.
House Bill 11-1167 varies the waiting period and certain procedures for conviction records entered on or after July 1, 2011, depending on the severity of the offense. For example, the waiting period to file a petition to seal the record of a conviction of a petty drug offense is 3 years, whereas the waiting period to file a petition to seal the record of a conviction of class 5 and 6 felony drug offense is 7 years. The waiting period for defendants convicted of other drug felonies and offenses is 10 years.