A record seal in Colorado is when you get your criminal history hidden from public view. Once a criminal record is sealed, it generally no longer shows up on background checks. This can greatly improve your prospects for jobs, housing and other benefits.
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?
Read our related article on collateral relief in Colorado.
1. What is a record seal 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 records sealed. So if they were to apply for a job, those petty offense convictions should not show up on their future background checks.
1.1. Sealing versus expungement
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
2. What is the advantage of getting a criminal record sealed?
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.
3. What criminal records can be sealed in Colorado?
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 4
3.1. Arrest records with no convictions
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.
3.1.1. Arrest records when no criminal charges have been filed
For arrests on or after January 1, 2022, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will automatically seal a person’s arrest record when no criminal charges have been filed within one year of the arrest. The CBI must do this within 60 days after the year has passed since the arrest date.
For arrests after January 1, 2019 but before January 2, 2022, the CBI will automatically seal an arrest record if no criminal charges have been filed within:
- 3 years after the arrest for a felony offense for which the statute of limitations is 3 years (if the statute of limitations is longer, it is not eligible for automatic sealing); or
- 18 months after the arrest for a misdemeanor offense, misdemeanor traffic offense, petty offense, or municipal ordinance violation for which the statute of limitations is 18 months or less
For arrest records with no conviction from 2013 to 2018, the CBI will automatically seal the records by January 1, 2023.
For arrest records with no conviction from 2008 to 2012, the CBI will automatically seal the records by January 1, 2024.
For arrest records with no conviction from 2003 to 2007, the CBI will automatically seal the records by January 1, 2025.
For arrest records with no conviction from 1997 to 2002, the CBI will automatically seal the records by January 1, 2026.
For other arrest records with no conviction, the CBI with automatically seal the records by January 1, 2027.
Note that the CBI will only automatically seal records within its custody and control.
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.
Note that convictions which have been pardoned are potentially sealable under CRS 24-72-710. The court should seal pardoned convictions unless it finds by clear and convincing evidence that the public interest in retaining public access to the conviction records outweighs:
- the harm to the privacy of the defendant,
- the dangers of unwarranted, adverse consequences to the defendant, and
- the intent of the full and unconditional pardon.
3.3. Juvenile and Underage records
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
4. Can you seal a felony record in Colorado?
The only felony convictions that can be sealed in Colorado are class 4, class 5, and class 6 felonies as well as level 2, level 3, and level 4 drug felonies. The waiting period 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?
5. When can I get my criminal record sealed 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 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 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.|
Note that there is a limit for sealing multiple convictions. The maximum amount depends on the convictions’ crime category:
- For eligible petty offenses and petty drug offenses, defendants can file a petition to seal only if they have five or fewer convictions in separate criminal cases.
- For eligible class 2- or class 3 misdemeanors and level 1- or level 2 misdemeanor drug offenses, defendants can file a petition to seal only if they have four or fewer convictions in separate criminal cases.
- For eligible class 1 misdemeanors, class 4-, class 5-, and class 6 felonies, and drug felonies, defendants can file a petition to seal only if they have three or fewer convictions in separate criminal cases.
Also note that normally unsealable misdemeanors can be sealed if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that:
- The defendant’s need for the sealing is “significant and substantial”;
- The defendant is no longer a threat to public safety; and
- Public disclosure of the record is no longer necessary to inform the public.
6. If I get a record seal, can I say no if someone asks me if I have a criminal record?
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
7. How much does it cost to get a record seal 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|
8. If I am eligible for a record seal, will a judge definitely seal it?
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
9. How do I get my criminal record sealed in Colorado?
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|
|A conviction||JDF 612 – Petition to Seal Criminal Conviction Record|
|Multiple convictions||JDF 641 – Petition to Seal Multiple 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|
10. How long does it take to get criminal records sealed?
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
11. What if my petition to seal is denied?
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
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. Note that as of March 1, 2022, there are no longer class 3 misdemeanors or class 1- or class 2 petty offenses. SB21-271.
- 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.
- 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.