A record seal in Colorado is when a person gets his or her criminal history hidden from public view. Once a criminal record is sealed, it no longer comes up on background checks. So a record seal can greatly improve a person’s employment prospects.
The record sealing process in Colorado typically involves
- obtaining copies of past police reports,
- filing a petition with the court, and
- paying a filing fee
Not everyone is eligible for record seals. If the court grants a record seal, the person can legally deny ever having been arrested or convicted of a crime (with rare exceptions).
Below our Colorado criminal defense attorneys discuss the laws, processes, times frames, and fees for sealing arrest and conviction records in Colorado. Click on a topic to go to that section:
- 1. What is a record seal in Colorado?
- 2. What is the advantage of getting a criminal record sealed?
- 3. What criminal records can be sealed in Colorado?
- 4. Can you seal a felony record in Colorado?
- 5. When can I get my criminal record sealed in Colorado?
- 6. If I get a record seal, can I say no if someone asks me if I have a criminal record?
- 7. How much does it cost to get a record seal in Colorado?
- 8. If I am eligible for a record seal, will a judge definitely seal it?
- 9. How do I get my criminal record sealed in Colorado?
- 10. How long does it take to get criminal records sealed?
- 11. What if my petition to seal is denied?
- 12. Can my criminal record be partially sealed in Colorado?
Read our related article on collateral relief in Colorado.
Whenever people in Colorado are arrested or convicted, it goes on their “criminal record.” These records are typically accessible to the public through an internet background check.
Like it sounds, a record seal “seals” a person’s Colorado records so that they no longer come up in background checks. In essence, sealing makes a criminal record invisible.1
For example, people convicted of petty offenses in Denver County Court may be eligible to get those record sealed. So if they were to apply for a job, those petty offense convictions should not show up on their future background checks.
Sealing makes a person’s criminal record invisible. The records are made unavailable but law enforcement and prosecution entities still have access.
Expunging is actually the destruction of criminal records. As explained below, Colorado permits expungement for only juvenile offenses and underage drinking and driving convictions.2
Many employers will not consider job applicants with criminal records. Therefore, having a record seal vastly improves the person’s job prospects. Having a criminal record may also be socially stigmatizing, so a seal puts the person on a more equal footing with others.
Whether a person is qualified for a record seal in Colorado depends on the following factors:
- the type of criminal offense,
- whether the defendant was ultimately convicted,
- the defendant’s age, and/or
- when the case was dismissed or closed
Note that a criminal case is considered “closed” once there has been a final disposition and the person completed all the sentencing terms.
Continue scrolling down to learn the various types of cases that may be sealed in Colorado.3
An arrest is just the beginning of a criminal case, and many arrests never result in a conviction. A person may have eligibility to have his/her arrest records sealed right away in any of the following situations:
- The person was arrested but not ultimately charged with a crime;
- The person’s case was eventually dismissed (which means there was no conviction); and/or
- The person was acquitted (found “not guilty”) of the charge(s).
Note that a person might be ineligible for a record seal if the charge was dropped only because he/she took a plea bargain in a separate case.
When defendants have pleaded guilty to most offenses as part of a straight deferred judgment, they are eligible for a record seal once they have successfully completed it and the case gets dismissed. Note that if the case is a “split plea agreement” – meaning it included a deferral as well as a conviction to a misdemeanor or traffic that was not deferred – then the deferred charge cannot be sealed even if the defendant successfully completes the sentencing terms.4
Convictions are potentially sealable unless they are:
- 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
- Crimes involving a commercial driver’s license5
As discussed in section 5, there is a waiting period to seal criminal convictions. But there is no waiting period to seal charges that have been dismissed.
In Colorado, “juvenile” means under 18 years old, and “underage” means under 21 years old. People who committed certain crimes while juvenile or underage may be eligible to expunge or seal their records:
3.3.1. Underage DUI
A conviction for underage drinking and driving (UDD) where the blood alcohol level was at least .02 but no more than .05 may be expunged if the following are true:
- The person is over 21;
- The person has not had a second UDD conviction; and
- The case has closed; and
- He/she has never held a commercial driver’s license and was not operating a commercial motor vehicle.
Note that the records in this case would be totally expunged.6
3.3.2. Underage alcohol convictions prior to July 1, 2014
Convictions for possessing or consuming alcohol while under 21 may sealable if:
- At least one (1) year has passed since the date of final disposition of all criminal proceedings against the defendant or his/her release from supervision concerning a criminal conviction, whichever is later; and
- The person has not been arrested for another conviction for possessing or consuming alcohol.
Note that this rule applies to convictions prior to July 1, 2014.7
3.3.3. Underage alcohol or marijuana convictions from July 1, 2014 on
Convictions for possessing or consuming alcohol, marijuana, or marijuana paraphernalia while under 21 may be sealable if:
- At least (1) one year has passed since the date of final disposition of all criminal proceedings against the defendant or his/her release from supervision concerning a criminal conviction, whichever is later; and
- The person has obtained a verified copy of his/her criminal history that is current as of at least 20 days prior to the date of the filing of the petition to seal.
Note that this rule applies to convictions on July 1, 2014 and after.8
3.3.4. Juvenile records
People with juvenile offense records can usually get them expunged if the following three conditions are true.
- He/she has not since been adjudicated as a juvenile delinquent for, or convicted of, any felony or misdemeanor offense involving domestic violence, unlawful sexual behavior, or possession of a weapon; and
- There are no felony, misdemeanor, or delinquency actions pending or being instituted against him/her; and
- He/she has paid all court-ordered restitution or is currently on a restitution repayment agreement with the court collections investigator.
Also note that the person has to request a court hearing in order to get an expungement.9
The only Colorado felony convictions which are sealable include class 4-, class 5-, and class 6 felonies as well as level 2-, level 3-, and level 4 drug felonies. The wait time to petition for a felony record seal is three years after the case ends, except for level 2 drug felonies which have a five-year wait. The process to seal felony convictions requires submitting a completed JDF 612 form to the Colorado court which heard the case.
Unsealable Colorado felony convictions include sex crimes, DUIs, domestic violence, level 1 drug felonies, and class 1-, class 2-, and class 3 felonies. But any felony charge that gets dismissed can be sealed immediately. To seal felony arrest records, defendants need to submit a completed JDF 417 form to the applicable Colorado court.
Learn more in our article, Can you seal a felony record in Colorado?
It depends on the case. Assuming all other requirements are met, the waiting periods for petitioning for a record seal or expungement are the following:
|Colorado conviction||Waiting period to petition for record seal in Colorado|
|Arrest records that do not result in a conviction||Immediately|
|Petty offenses and petty drug offenses||One (1) year after the case ends|
|Class 2 misdemeanors and class 3 misdemeanors||Two (2) years after the case ends|
|Drug misdemeanors||Two (2) years after the case ends|
|Class 4 felonies, class 5 felonies, and class 6 felonies||Three (3) years after the case ends|
|Level 3 drug felonies and level 4 drug felonies||Three (3) years after the case ends|
|Class 1 misdemeanors||Three (3) years after the case ends|
|Level 2 drug felonies and all other offenses||Five (5) years after the 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 against you or your release from supervision concerning a criminal conviction, whichever is later|
|Underage possession/ consumption of alcohol or marijuana convictions that occurred on July 1, 2014 or later||One (1) year after conviction|
|Underage DUI convictions (UDD) with a BAL of .02 to .05.||Immediately after age 21|
|Juvenile records||Up to five (5) years, depending on the circumstances. Dismissals and acquittals can be sealed immediately.|
In most situations, yes. During a job interview or under oath, people with sealed records may deny ever having a brush with the law.10
But there are narrow circumstances where people with sealed or expunged records have to fess up. For example, people applying to the Colorado Bar to become a lawyer have to disclose their criminal record.11
Also see our articles on professional licenses in Colorado:
- How convictions affect contractor licenses in Colorado
- How convictions affect nursing licenses in Colorado
- How convictions affect real estate licenses in Colorado
- How convictions affect medical licenses in Colorado
- How convictions affect dental licenses in Colorado
- How convictions affect social work licenses in Colorado
- How convictions affect accountancy licenses in Colorado
- How convictions affect law licenses in Colorado
It depends on the type of record being sealed. The schedule of Colorado record seal fees is below:
|Colorado offense||Record seal court filing fee|
|Arrest records or criminal charges which do not result in a conviction||$224|
|Underage possession/ consumption of alcohol convictions that occurred prior to July 1, 2014||$0|
|Underage possession/ consumption of alcohol or marijuana convictions that occurred on July 1, 2014 or later||$0|
|Underage DUI convictions (UDD) with a BAL of .02 to .05.||$0|
Usually, yes. But whether a judge will grant a person’s petition to seal records is within the judge’s discretion. A record seal is never guaranteed.12
It depends on the type of record being sealed. Usually, the defendant needs to file a motion with the court. Typically, the process of getting a Colorado record seal involves the following six steps:
- Obtain records. First, the person gets a copy of his/her criminal records from the law enforcement agency.
- Obtain criminal history. Next, the person may have to get a current verified copy of his/her criminal history from the Colorado Bureau of Investigations (CBI).
- Complete the appropriate forms. Third, the person has to fill out the appropriate petition to seal forms.
- File the petition. Once the forms are filled out, the person files them with the appropriate court (which is usually the court where the case occurred). For example, a criminal case heard in Denver District Court could also be sealed by that same court.
- Court reviews the petition. The court will then either accept or deny the petition. In some cases, the court will schedule a hearing before deciding whether to issue a court order to seal.
- Send orders to agencies. If the judge issues an order to seal, the person then sends copies to all of the agencies that have his/her criminal records on file (such as the police department and the CBI).
Links to the specific forms a record seal petitioner needs to complete are below:
|Colorado offense||Links to “Petition to Seal” instructions and forms|
|Arrest records which do not result in a conviction||JDF 417 – Petition to Seal Arrest & Criminal Records|
|Convictions||JDF 612 – Petition to Seal Criminal Conviction Records|
|Underage possession/ consumption of alcohol convictions that occurred prior to July 1, 2014||JDF 313(a) – Petition to Seal Records Related to Underage Possession and Consumption of Underage Alcohol (MIP)|
|Underage possession/ consumption of alcohol or marijuana convictions that occurred on July 1, 2014 or later||JDF 313(b) – Petition to Seal Record Related to Underage Possession and Consumption of Underage Alcohol or Marijuana (MIP) or Possession of Marijuana Paraphernalia|
|Underage DUI convictions (UDD) with a BAL of .02 to .05.||JDF 305 – Petition for Expungement of UDD (Under Age Drinking and Driving)|
|Juvenile records||JDF 302 – Petition for Expungement of Records|
The judge may take a few days or weeks to determine whether to grant an order to seal. If the judge grants it, the person must mail copies of the order to the various agencies that have his/her criminal records on file (such as the police department that arrested him/her)…
Once the agencies receive the order in the mail, the person’s criminal records should be sealed within about 30 days.13
The court will mail back a letter outlining the reasons why the petition to seal was denied. The person may be able to correct any mistakes on the petition to seal and re-submit it.14
No. If a person’s criminal history contains any unsealable convictions, then none of his/her record may be sealed.15
Need a record seal in Colorado? Call us…
If you have a criminal record in Colorado, contact our Denver criminal defense attorneys at (303) 222-0330 for a free consultation. We may be able to get it sealed or expunged. Sealing your criminal records will greatly increase your employment opportunities. It will also put you on a more even playing field with your friends and colleagues.
- 24-72 CRS.
- See C.B. v. People, 122 P.3d 1065 (Colo. App. 2005); People v. Wright, 43 Colo. App. 30, 598 P.2d 157 (1979).
- See 24-72 CRS.
- 24-72-702.5 CRS.
- 42-4-1715 CRS.
- 18-13-122(2) CRS.
- 18-13-122 CRS.
- 19-1-306 CRS.
- People v. Bushu, 876 P.2d 106 (Colo. App. 1994).
- Colorado Supreme Court, Office of Regulation Counsel, The Truth, the Whole Truth, and… (Winter, 2015).
- See In re T.L.M., 39 P.3d 1239 (Colo. App. 2001).
- See Colorado Judicial Branch.
- 24-72 CRS.