Expungement in Colorado is the legal process of removing juvenile records, underage drinking and driving (UDD) records, or arrest records of people apprehended because of mistaken identity. Expunged records do not show up on background checks. But people have to petition a court to get their records cleared – it is not automatic, and not everyone is eligible.
(Expungement is a separate process from record sealing, which conceals other kinds of criminal conviction records and arrest records from public view.)
In this article, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers will address:
- 1. What is record expungement in Colorado?
- 2. What crimes cannot be expunged?
- 3. When can records be expunged if there was no conviction?
- 4. How soon can convictions be expunged?
- 5. How do I expunge my records?
- 6. Can I expunge my DNA samples in Colorado?
1. What is record expungement in Colorado?
The expunging process physically destroys records, so they are deemed never to have existed. Under Colorado law, the only records that can be expunged are:
- juvenile records,1
- UDD records (underage drinking and driving),2 or,
- criminal arrest records if the arrestee was the victim of mistaken identity3
Once a record is expunged, the defendant may lawfully deny ever having been arrested, charged, adjudicated, convicted, or sentenced with regard to the expunged case.
2. What crimes cannot be expunged?
People with juvenile records may not get an expungement if either:
- They were adjudicated as a violent juvenile offender or an aggravated juvenile offender;
- They were convicted of a traffic offense or infraction;
- They were convicted of a sex felony offense; or
- They were convicted of a homicide or related offense4
Therefore, people charged with any of the above offenses should retain experienced counsel immediately to fight to get the charges reduced or dismissed. If convicted, their permanent record may cause them to be passed over for future employment, education, financial, or housing opportunities.
3. When can records be expunged if there was no conviction?
There is no wait to petition the court for an expungement if either:
- The defendant was found not guilty or not delinquent of the charge at trial;
- The defendant finished a diversion program or deferred adjudication / deferred judgment;
- The defendant finished an informal adjustment;
- The prosecutors simply dropped the charge; or
- The defendant was arrested, there is no investigation, and the statute of limitations to press charges has passed5
4. How soon can convictions be expunged?
The waiting period to petition a county court or district court to clear a criminal record depends on the particular case:
4.1. Juvenile delinquencies
Colorado juvenile offense
Waiting period to petition for a record expungement
|The defendant successfully finished probation; or |
The contact with law enforcement did not lead to a referral to another agency
|One (1) year|
|The defendant got an unconditional release from parole supervision or from a commitment to the Department of Human Services||Three (3) years|
|The person was released from his/her sentence as a repeat offender or mandatory offender.||Five (5) years6|
4.2. Underage drinking and driving
Defendants with a UDD criminal conviction can petition for a record seal immediately after turning 21 years old.7
4.3. Arrests due to mistaken identity
When law enforcement wrongly arrests a person due to mistaken identity – and the person was not charged – the law enforcement agency must petition for a record expungement no later than 90 days after the police investigation determines the mistake.8
5. How do I expunge my criminal records?
5.1. Expunging juvenile records
The first step for expunging a juvi court case is for the petitioner to fill out these two forms:
Note that if the juvenile had contact with police but no case arose from it, the petitioner would instead fill out these two forms:
- Petition for Expungement of Records for a Law Enforcement Contact Not Resulting in Referral to Another Agency / JDF 324
- Order of Expungement of Records for a Law Enforcement Contact Not Resulting in Referral to Another Agency / JDF 326
The second step is for the petitioner to file the completed petition and order forms with the court which heard the case. There is no filing fee. Contact the court for filing instructions.
The third step is to wait for the court’s decision. In most cases, the court will grant the expungement as long as the petitioner is eligible and has completed the forms correctly. But in some cases, the court will schedule a hearing to get more information before deciding whether to grant or deny the petition. Petitioners can be represented by an attorney during an expungement hearing.
If the court grants the expungement, the court will mail a copy of the “order to expunge” to all the state agencies which have a copy of the petitioner’s records. If the court denies the expungement, the petitioner must wait 12 months before pursuing an expungement again.9
5.2. Expunging UDD records
The first step for expunging an underage drinking and driving case is for the petitioner to complete these two forms:
- Petition for Expungement of UDD ( Under Age Drinking and Driving) / JDF 305
- Order for Expungement of UDD ( Under Age Drinking and Driving) / JDF 306
The second step is for the petitioner to file these two completed forms with the court where the case took place. Contact the court for instructions on how to file the forms. There should not be a filing fee.
If the court grants the expungement, the third step is for the petitioner to mail a copy of the signed court order to:
- The law enforcement agency that arrested the petitioner;
- The district attorney’s office that prosecuted the petitioner;
- Colorado DMV at 1881 Pierce St., Lakewood, CO 80214;
- Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) at 690 Kipling Street, Ste. 3000, Lakewood, CO 80215; and
- Any other agency that may have a copy of the petitioner’s UDD records10
5.3. Expunging arrest records due to mistaken identity
It is the police department’s responsibility to file an expungement petition with the court if:
- the police arrested a person based on mistaken identity, and
- the arrestee has not been charged.
Within 90 days of the arrest, the law enforcement agency is required to file the petition for expungement with the district court. The court then has 90 days to grant the order of expungement.11
It is advised that people retain an attorney to handle all of the paperwork and mailings required to expunge or seal arrest- or conviction records. Expunging or sealing criminal records is a confusing, time-intensive process. And it may require communications with law enforcement agencies and the prosecuting attorneys at the District Attorney’s Office before the judge will issue the court order to expunge or seal records.
6. Can I expunge my DNA samples in Colorado?
People can apply to have their DNA samples expunged if either:
- The criminal case they provided the sample for ended in a dismissal, an acquittal, or a non-felony conviction; or
- They provided the sample for a case that resulted in no charges being filed or in no felony charges being filed within 90 days of the arrest12
To expunge DNA samples, arrestees must fill out the Request for Expungement of Arrestee DNA Sample from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation’s website. The arrestee must then mail the form to:
Colorado Bureau of Investigation
690 Kipling St., Ste. 3000
Lakewood, CO 80215
The CBI will then contact the arrestee when the sample has been expunged.13
Note that anyone arrested for a felony in Colorado must submit a DNA sample.14
Our law firm creates attorney-client relationships throughout the state, including Denver, Colorado Springs, Greeley, Boulder, and more.
We fight against all types of petty offense, misdemeanor, and felony criminal offense charges including DUI, domestic violence, controlled substance / drug offenses (drug misdemeanors and drug felonies), class a and b traffic infractions, crimes involving commercial motor vehicles and commercial driver’s licenses, misdemeanor traffic offenses, and sex crimes such as unlawful sexual behavior.
- CRS 19-1-306. See also C.B. v. People, (Colo. App. 2005) 122 P.3d 1065.
- CRS 42-4-1715; CRS 42-2-121.
- CRS 24-72-702.
- CRS 19-1-306.
- CRS 24-72-703; CRS 19-1-306; CRS 24-72-704; See also People v. Wright, (1979) 43 Colo. App. 30, 598 P.2d 157.
- CRS 19-1-306.
- CRS 42-4-1715; CRS 42-2-121.
- CRS 24-72-702.
- Instructions To File An Expungement: Juvenile “JD”, or Municipal case pursuant to 19-1-306, C.R.S., Colorado Judicial Branch.
- Expungement on Underage Drinking and Driving, Colorado Judicial Branch.
- CRS 24-72-701.5.
- CRS 16-23-105.
- CRS 16-23-105.