Colorado background checks are a common part of the job application process. Depending on the scope, background checks can reveal a person’s criminal history, credit history, and employment and education records. But criminal background checks go back only seven years (with some exceptions). And Colorado’s ban the box law prohibits employers from asking about criminal records on the initial application.
In this article, our Colorado criminal defense attorneys answer the following faqs:
- 1. What shows up on Colorado background checks?
- 2. How far do background checks go back?
- 3. Do sealed criminal records show up?
- 4. Does Colorado have a “ban the box” law?
- 5. Do background checks include credit history?
- 6. Where can I check my own criminal history?
- 7. Can I seal my criminal records?
- 8. Do I need a background check to buy a gun in Colorado?
1. What shows up on Colorado background checks?
Employment background checks in Colorado generally comprise:
- The person’s criminal history (including felonies, misdemeanors, and petty offenses);
- An education verification; and
- An employment verification.
The criminal background check includes the following:
- The type of offense the person was arrested for;
- The date the offense occurred and the date charges were filed;
- How and when the case resolved (the “disposition”); and
- What sentence the person served.
The employment verification is a list of the person’s past employers, job titles, and dates of employment. And the education verification shows which schools the person attended, the dates of attendance, and the degrees or certifications earned.
Note that for some jobs, employers may request drug screenings and/or driving records.1
See our related article, How can I check the points on my license in Colorado?
2. How far do background checks go back?
Criminal history records on Colorado background checks include only the last seven years, but there are two exceptions where employers can look back further:
- If the job the person is applying for carries an annual salary of at least $75,000; or
- If the job is in education or medicine (such as teachers, doctors, and nurses).2
3. Do sealed criminal records show up?
In general, Colorado criminal records that have been sealed or expunged should not appear on future background checks. However, there may be exceptions where job applicants are required to disclose their sealed criminal history – such as to a professional licensing board.
An employment law attorney can help job applicants determine if and when they need to reveal their sealed records.3
4. Does Colorado have a “ban the box” law?
Yes. Under Colorado’s Ban the Box law, private employers may not ask job applicants about their criminal history on the initial employment screening. This way, all applicants are competing on a more level playing field notwithstanding their criminal histories. And if it turns out that a qualified job applicant who made the first cut has a criminal history, the employer may be less inclined to automatically disqualify him or her.
If an employer does ask about criminal history on the initial application, the applicant can file a complaint with Colorado’s Division of Labor Standards and Statistics. The Colorado Department of Labor And Employment will then investigate.4
Learn more in our article, Do I have to disclose a criminal record to employers in Colorado?
5. Do background checks include credit history?
As part of the background check process, Colorado employers can require job applicants to consent to a credit check under three circumstances:
- The law requires such a credit report check;
- The credit check is directly related to the job the applicant is being considered for; or
- The employer is a bank or other financial institution.
In addition, employers who decide not to hire people based on their credit history are required to tell them so in writing.5
6. Where can I check my own criminal history?
Go to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation‘s Internet Criminal History Check System (ICHC). People can run a criminal records background screening on themselves for $5. People will need to enter their full name and date of birth. Entering one’s social security number is optional.
7. Can I seal my criminal records?
Any Colorado criminal case that has been dismissed can be sealed immediately. Otherwise, there is a wait time to seal certain criminal convictions. And the following convictions cannot be sealed at all:
- Class 1 felonies,
- Class 2 felonies,
- Class 3 felonies,
- Level 1 drug felonies,
- Sex crimes,
- Domestic violence convictions (including domestic violence harassment),
- Class 1 misdemeanor traffic offenses,
- Class 2 misdemeanor traffic offenses,
- Class A traffic infractions,
- Class B traffic infractions, and
- Crimes involving a commercial driver’s license
The wait time to seal other criminal convictions depends on the class of crime:
|Colorado conviction||Waiting period to petition for record seal in Colorado|
|Petty offense or petty drug offense||One (1) year after the case ends|
|Multiple eligible petty offenses and/or petty drug offenses||Two (2) years after the last case ends|
|Class 2 misdemeanor or class 3 misdemeanor||Two (2) years after the case ends|
|Drug misdemeanor||Two (2) years after the case ends|
|Class 4 felony, class 5 felony, or class 6 felony||Three (3) years after the case ends|
|Level 3 drug felony or level 4 drug felony||Three (3) years after the case ends|
|Class 1 misdemeanor||Three (3) years after the case ends|
|Multiple eligible misdemeanors, misdemeanor drug offenses, and/or level 4 drug felonies||Five (5) years after the last case ends|
|Level 2 drug felony or any other eligible offense||Five (5) years after the case ends|
|Multiple eligible felonies and/or drug felonies||Ten (10) years after the last case ends|
|Most municipal and misdemeanor crimes by victims of human trafficking||Immediately|
|Underage possession/ consumption of alcohol convictions that occurred prior to July 1, 2014||One (1) year after the date of the final disposition of all criminal proceedings and the release from supervision, whichever is later|
|Underage possession/ consumption of alcohol or marijuana convictions that occurred on July 1, 2014 or later||One (1) year after the conviction|
|Underage DUI convictions (UDD) with a BAL of 0.02% to 0.05%.||Immediately after turning 21 years old|
|Juvenile records||Up to five (5) years, depending on the circumstances. Dismissals and acquittals can be sealed immediately.|
8. Do I need a background check to buy a gun in Colorado?
Yes, a firearm background check is required to purchase guns in Colorado. It does not matter whether it is a commercial or private gun sale.
First, the purchaser has to fill out an ATF Form 4473, which asks whether the purchaser either:
- has been convicted of a felony or of domestic violence (even as a misdemeanor);
- is under indictment for a felony;
- has been dishonorably discharged from the armed forces;
- has ever been adjudicated a mental defective or committed to a mental institution;
- is subject to a protective order restraining the person from harassing, stalking, or threatening his/her child or an intimate partner or child of such a partner;
- renounced U.S. citizenship;
- is an illegal alien;
- is an unlawful user or addicted to marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance; and/or
- is a fugitive
If the purchaser meets any of these conditions, then he/she cannot have a gun in Colorado.
After the purchaser completes the ATF Form 4473, the gun dealer submits it to the CBI InstaCheck Unit. The background check takes about 20 minutes.7
Facing criminal charges in Colorado? Our criminal defense lawyers fight to get your case dismissed or reduced to lesser charges. We represent clients in state law- and federal law courts throughout Colorado.
In California? Learn about California background investigations.
In Nevada? Learn about Nevada background investigations.
- Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Colorado Department of Public Safety
- Identity History Summary Checks, FBI
- Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
- See Employment and Background Checks, Colorado Bureau of Investigation. Common third-party services that run background checks include iprospectcheck, clearcheck, and sentrylink.
- CRS 12-14.3-105.3 (“Colorado Consumer Credit Reporting Act”).
- CRS 24-72-701-709.
- Colorado House Bill 19-1025 (“Chance to Compete Act”). C.R.S. 8-2-130.
- Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
- See note 3.
- CRS 24-33.5-424. CRS 18-12-112.5.