Expunging or Sealing Adult Criminal Records in Colorado

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In Colorado, it is not usually possible to expunge or "seal"  a conviction from your criminal record, even if you have completed probation. There are, however, exceptions for some offenses involving controlled substances. (Colorado Statutes § 24-72-308.5 and -308.6)

If you were arrested but released without being charged with a crime, or were arrested and charged with a crime but not convicted, you can probably have your records sealed. After sealing, it is as though the arrest or charge never occurred, and you don’t have to disclose the information if you are asked about it. (Colorado Statutes § 24-72-308.)

Here is a summary of Colorado’s laws governing expungement of adult criminal records.

Expungement of Criminal Records if You Were Not Convicted

You may petition to have your criminal record sealed if:

  • you were arrested but not charged with a crime
  • the case against you was dismissed, or
  • you were found not guilty of the charges brought against you.

There are some exceptions to this rule. If you were not charged because of a plea agreement in another case, or if your case was dismissed because of a plea agreement in another case, your record cannot be sealed. In addition, your record won't be sealed if you have failed to meet all the conditions of your sentence.

In addition, sealing is not possible for records concerning:

  • Class 1 or 2 misdemeanor traffic offenses
  • Class A or B traffic infractions
  • convictions for driving under the influence
  • convictions for offenses based on unlawful sexual behavior, or
  • convictions involving the holder of a commercial driver’s license or the operator of a commercial motor vehicle.

(Colorado Revised Statutes § 24-72-308.)

Expungement of Offenses Involving Controlled Substances (on or after July 1, 2008 and before July 1, 2011)

If you were convicted of an offense involving a controlled substance and you have satisfied all the conditions of your sentence, you may petition to have your records sealed if:

  • it has been at least ten years since the end of all criminal proceedings against you or your release from supervision concerning a criminal conviction, and
  • you have not been charged with or convicted of a crime during that ten year period.

There are some limitations on the types of controlled substance offenses that may be sealed under this law. Carefully read Colorado Statutes § 24-72-308.5 or consult a criminal law attorney.

Expungement of Offenses Involving Controlled Substances (on or after July 1, 2011)

If you were convicted of an offense involving a controlled substance and you have satisfied all the conditions of your sentence, you may petition to have your records sealed if the offense is:

  • a petty offense or a Class 2 or 3 misdemeanor; and it has been three years since the end of all criminal proceedings against you or your release from supervision concerning a criminal conviction
  • a Class 1 misdemeanor; and it has been five years since the end of all criminal proceedings against you or your release from supervision concerning a criminal conviction
  • a Class 5 or 6 felony drug possession offense; and it has been seven years since the end of all criminal proceedings against you or your release from supervision concerning a criminal conviction, or
  • another offense, and it has been ten years since the end of all criminal proceedings against you or your release from supervision concerning a criminal conviction.

There are some limitations on the types of controlled substance offenses that may be sealed under this law. Carefully read Colorado Statutes § 24-72-308.6 or consult a criminal law attorney.

Expungement of DNA Evidence or Other Biological Substance Records

If a law enforcement agency collected a biological sample from you while investigating a crime, you can petition to have that evidence expunged in some circumstances. Consider a petition for expungement if:

  • the charges against you were dismissed
  • you were acquitted of the crime, or
  • the charges resulted in a conviction other than a felony.

This law does not apply if you were arrested, charged with, or convicted of a separate offense for which collection of a biological sample was permitted.  (Colorado Revised Statutes § 16-23-105.)

For More Information

You can find the official Petition to Seal Arrest & Criminal Records at the Colorado Courts website. But be aware that cleaning up your criminal record can be complicated. To learn more about expunging criminal records in Colorado -- and to discuss your personal circumstances -- you should contact a qualified criminal law attorney. A good lawyer can guide you each step of the way.

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