An “expungement” in Colorado is the legal process of removing your
- juvenile records,
- underage drinking and driving (UDD) records, or
- arrest records if police wrongly arrested you because of mistaken identity but then no charges get filed.
Expunged records do not show up on background checks. You must petition a court to clear your records – 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 Denver Colorado criminal defense lawyers will address:
- 1. What crimes are expungable in Colorado?
- 2. What crimes cannot be expunged?
- 3. When can courts expunge records if there was no conviction?
- 4. How soon can convictions be expunged?
- 5. How do I expunge my criminal record in Colorado?
- 6. How much does it cost to expunge records in Colorado?
- 7. Who can see expunged records in Colorado?
- 8. Can I expunge my DNA samples in Colorado?
1. What crimes are expungable in Colorado?
The expunging process physically destroys records, so they are deemed never to have existed. Under Colorado law, the only records that are expungable are:
- juvenile records,1
- UDD records (underage drinking and driving),2 or,
- criminal arrest records if you were the victim of mistaken identity3
Once a record is expunged, you may lawfully deny ever having been arrested, charged, adjudicated, convicted, or sentenced with regard to the expunged case.
2. What crimes cannot be expunged?
If you have juvenile records, you may not get an expungement if either:
- You were adjudicated as a violent juvenile offender or an aggravated juvenile offender;
- You were convicted of a traffic offense or infraction;
- You were convicted of a sex felony offense; or
- You were convicted of a homicide or related offense4
Therefore, if you face charges for any of the above offenses, you should retain experienced counsel immediately to fight to get the charges reduced or dismissed. If convicted, your permanent record may cause you to lose out on future employment, education, financial, or housing opportunities.
3. When can courts expunge records if there was no conviction?
There is no wait to petition the court for an expungement if either:
- You were found not guilty or not delinquent of the charge at trial;
- You finished a diversion program or deferred adjudication / deferred judgment;
- You finished an informal adjustment;
- The prosecutors simply dropped the charge; or
- You were 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
|You successfully finished probation; or |
The contact with law enforcement did not lead to a referral to another agency
|One (1) year|
|You got an unconditional release from parole supervision or from a commitment to the Department of Human Services||Three (3) years|
|The court released you from your sentence as a repeat offender or mandatory offender.||Five (5) years6|
4.2. Underage drinking and driving
If you have a UDD criminal conviction, you 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 you due to mistaken identity – and the D.A. never charges you – 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 record in Colorado?
5.1. Expunging juvenile records
The first step for expunging a juvenile court case is for you to fill out these two forms:
- Petition for Expungement of Records / JDF 302, and
- Order for Expungement of Records / JDF 304.
Note that if you had contact with police but no case arose from it, you 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 you 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 you are eligible and have 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. You can have 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 your records. If the court denies the expungement, you 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 you 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 you 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 you to mail a copy of the signed court order to:
- The law enforcement agency that arrested you;
- The district attorney’s office that prosecuted you;
- 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 your 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 you based on mistaken identity, and
- you have not been charged.
Within 90 days of the arrest, the law enforcement agency must file the petition for expungement with the district court. The court then has 90 days to grant the order of expungement.
Note that if the D.A. formally charges you with a crime – and then the court dismisses your charge or acquits you at trial because you were the victim of mistaken identity – the court will then automatically seal your record. Though your record cannot be expunged.11
You should retain an attorney to handle all of the paperwork and mailings necessary to expunge or seal arrest- or conviction records. Expunging or sealing criminal records is a confusing, time-intensive process. 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. How much does it cost to expunge records in Colorado?
Other than postage, expunging your record costs nothing. There is no court filing fee.
7. Who can see expunged records in Colorado?
Since expunged records are physically destroyed, they should not be visible to anyone.
(Note that sealed criminal records should be invisible to most people, but they can reopened in limited circumstances – usually with a court order.)
8. Can I expunge my DNA samples in Colorado?
You can apply to have your DNA samples expunged if either:
- The criminal case you provided the sample for ended in a dismissal, an acquittal, or a non-felony conviction; or
- You 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, you must fill out the Request for Expungement of Arrestee DNA Sample from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation’s website. You must then mail the form to:
Colorado Bureau of Investigation
690 Kipling St., Ste. 3000
Lakewood, CO 80215
The CBI will then contact you when the sample has been expunged.13
Note that anyone arrested for a felony in Colorado must submit a DNA sample.14
The Colorado Legal Defense Group law firm helps clients with expungement throughout the state, including Denver, Colorado Springs, Greeley, Boulder, and more.
Our Colorado expungement attorneys 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.
See our related article, Expunge vs. Seal criminal records in Colorado – What’s the difference?
- 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 24-72-705.
- CRS 16-23-105.
- CRS 16-23-105.