Expungement and Sealing of Juvenile Records

An individual with a record in Colorado for juvenile crimes can ask the court to "expunge" or seal his or her criminal record. "Expungement" means the individual's record will be as if it never existed, and the public will not be able to see the record.

After expungement, a person may legally claim that he or she was never:

  • arrested,
  • charged,
  • adjudicated,
  • convicted, or
  • sentenced for a crime.

Where to File

An individual must file the request to seal the record in the District Court or Juvenile Court in the county where:

  • the person interacted with law enforcement, or
  • the individual's juvenile case was heard.

If the case was ever transferred between different counties, the motion to expunge should be filed in each county to make sure all records are sealed.

Ineligible for Expungement

A person is not eligible for expungement if the individual was adjudicated for:

  • a felony offense involving unlawful sexual behavior;
  • a violent juvenile offender;
  • a homicide or related offense; or
  • an offense which occurs pursuant to Title 42 of the Colorado Revised Statutes.

Eligible for Expungement

Generally, a person is eligible for expungement:

  • immediately after a case is closed as the result of a dismissed case;
  • after the completion of certain programs;
  • one year after certain conditions occur; or
  • three years after an unconditional release from a juvenile sentence.

The full eligibility requirements for expungement are lengthy and complex. They are discussed in more detail in this article below.

Our Colorado criminal defense lawyers discuss the following frequently asked questions about expungement and sealing of juvenile court records:

Juvenile
An individual with a juvenile record in Colorado can ask the court to "expunge" or seal his or her criminal record.

1. What is expungement?

Expungement means the individual's criminal record will be as if it never existed, and the public will not be able to see the record. After expungement, a person may legally claim that he or she was never:

  • arrested,
  • charged,
  • adjudicated,
  • convicted, or
  • sentenced for a crime.

This allows juvenile offenders to make a fresh start and not be hampered by a criminal conviction for the rest of their lives. 1

1.1 Does this mean that every record will be deleted?

Not quite. After a person's criminal record Is expunged and sealed, it is not open to the public at large. Two important exceptions exist:

  1. Basic identification information will still be available to:
    • a district attorney;
    • local law enforcement agency;
    • the department of human services;
    • the state judicial department; and
    • the victim
  2. Any expunged record will be available to a judge and the probation department if the person faces future juvenile or adult sentencing hearings.

1.2 Will my records be automatically deleted after a certain time?

No. Juvenile criminal records will not automatically seal themselves. It requires:

  • the filing of a motion,
  • a hearing, and
  • a decision granting the expungement by the court.

2. How do I file for expungement of my juvenile record?

A petition to file for sealing of a juvenile record may be filed where:

  • the person interacted with law enforcement, or
  • the individual's juvenile case was heard.

If the case was ever transferred between different counties, the motion should be filed in each county to make sure all records are sealed. 2

3. Is everyone eligible to file for expungement?

No, not everyone -- including juveniles -- is eligible to file for expungement. A person is not eligible for expungement if the individual was adjudicated for:

  • a felony offense involving unlawful sexual behavior;
  • an aggravated juvenile offender;
  • a violent juvenile offender;
  • a homicide and related offense; or
  • an offense which occurs pursuant to Title 42 of the Colorado Revised Statutes. 3

4. Who is eligible for expungement?

A person is eligible for immediate expungement of his or her record if one of the following circumstances is met:

  • The individual is found not guilty at trial.
  • The criminal complaint was dismissed in its entirety.
  • The minor successfully completed a juvenile diversion program, a deferred adjudication, or an informal adjustment.

To be eligible, the individual also must not have a felony, misdemeanor, or delinquency action pending against him or her at the time of filing for an expungement. 5

A person is eligible for expungement at any time 1 year after the date of:

  • contact with law enforcement that did not result in referral to another agency (such as the prosecutor's office); or
  • the termination of the court's jurisdiction over the individual after successful completion of probation.6

A person is eligible for expungement after 3 years from the date of:

  • the individual's unconditional release from a commitment to the Department of Human Services; or
  • the individual's unconditional release from parole supervision. 7

If the individual was ever adjudicated as a repeat or mandatory juvenile offender, he or she may not petition for expungement until 5 years after the termination of the court's jurisdiction over the offender.

5. Why should I seal my record?

When a person's Colorado criminal record is sealed, it prevents members of the public from ever knowing it happened. This is especially important for:

  • future employment,
  • application to colleges or universities, and, among other things,
  • applications for special licenses or clearances.

Just because a person has had run-in's with law enforcement in the past does not mean he or she should suffer forever. Colorado law allows for a fresh start to eligible individuals.

5.1 Do I need an attorney to file for expungement?

You are not required by law to retain an attorney to file for expungement, but it is not recommended in most circumstances. While you are allowed to represent yourself in filing your petition, if you do so, you are expected to comply with complex Colorado law -- as if you were a practicing attorney.

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Call us for help...

For questions about when your juvenile records can be expunged or sealed or to confidentially discuss your case with one of our skilled Colorado juvenile crimes defense attorneys, do not hesitate to contact us at the Colorado Legal Defense Group.

We represent clients in and around Denver, Colorado Springs, Aurora, Fort Collins, Lakewood, and several nearby cities.


Legal References:

  1. C.R.S. § 19-1-103.
  2. C.R.S. § 19-1-103(5)(a).
  3. C.R.S. § 19-1-103(7). See also, C.B. v. People, 122 P.3d 1065 (Colo. App. 2005).
  4. C.R.S. § 19-1-103(6).
  5. C.R.S. § 19-1-103(6)(a).
  6. C.R.S. § 19-1-103(6)(b).
  7. C.R.S. § 19-1-103(6)(c).

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