Sealing

Criminal

Sealing

Sealing is the method of hiding an adult’s criminal records in Colorado. Sealing means that the general public cannot access the adult criminal record. Officials, such as police and lawyers, can still see the sealed criminal record. Victims have certain rights if the record of a crime committed against them is sealed.

In Colorado, not all adult criminal records can be sealed. Only specific types of adult criminal records can be sealed. According to Colorado law, any person may ask the court to seal their criminal records if one of the following things happened:

  • They were arrested, but no charges were filed.
  • They were arrested, but charges were dropped.
  • They were arrested, but they were officially told they were not guilty (acquitted).
  • They were arrested, but the charges were dismissed because they pled guilty (plea bargain) in another case.
  • They were arrested when they were younger than 18 years old (a juvenile; also known as expungement).
  • They were arrested by mistake and no charges were filed (mistaken identity).
  • They were arrested, pled guilty (plea agreement), and agreed to completed certain tasks while on probation. After probation, all charges were dismissed. This process is called a deferred judgment.
  • They were arrested, but the crime happened long enough in the past (the statute of limitations has run out) and no charges were filed.
  • They were arrested, but there is no longer an investigation.
  • They were convicted for certain drug convictions, even when there is a guilty plea.
  • They were convicted for crimes that happened while they were being human trafficked.

Some kinds of criminal records cannot be sealed. Crimes committed against a person cannot be sealed, such as:  

  • Crimes under the Victim Rights Acts
  • Crimes of violence
  • Sexual offenses
  • Domestic violence, child abuse, and stalking
  • Some traffic-related crimes
  • Driving after using alcohol or drugs (“driving under the influence;” DUI)

Additionally, a conviction cannot be sealed if the person convicted of the crime still owes restitution payments, fines, or other court costs.

Sealing an adult criminal record is different from expungement. Expungement is how criminal records are sealed for a person younger than 18-years-old, also known as a “juvenile”. Only certain types of juvenile records can be expunged. When a juvenile record is expunged, the record is destroyed. No one will be able to access the expunged juvenile record.

Victim Rights - Sealing

If you are a victim of a crime listed in the Victim Rights Acts, you have a right to be told if someone has asked to seal the record of that crime. You have a right to share your opinion about the request in three situations:  

  1. When someone asks to seal a record because the court did not file charges or the convicted person completed their probation requirements with a diversion agreement.

    In these instances, the court is required to schedule a hearing. The earliest the court can schedule a hearing is 35 days after the request. The court must notify the prosecutor and law enforcement agency (police) of the request. The victim must also be notified. If the victim chooses, they can object to the request. The victim must share their objection at least within 7 days before the hearing.
  2. When someone asks to seal the record because a case was dismissed (not guilty/acquittal, completion of deferred judgment or diversion agreement, or after charges were filed).

    In these instances, the court is required to schedule a hearing. The latest the court can schedule the hearing is 42 days after the request. The court must also inform the prosecutor so they can inform the victim.
  3. When someone asks to seal the record after a conviction.
    In these instances, the court is not required to schedule a hearing. The victim will be told, and the victim has the right to ask for a hearing. The prosecutor must share the victim’s opinion and ask the request for a hearing with the court. The victim has the right to speak to the court at this hearing.

When a record is sealed, victims can still get access to police reports and protection orders if the records are going to be used for legal reasons. When a record is sealed, prosecutors and law enforcement (police) can still discuss the sealed case with the victim.