Sealing Your Criminal Conviction, Arrest, and Other Criminal Records

One of the most devastating effects of facing a criminal charge is the prospect of how it might affect your future. In Colorado, the legislature has tried to identify circumstances where it would be unjust for a person to have a permanent criminal record. Those circumstances include when a charge is dismissed, when a person successfully completes a deferred judgment or deferred prosecution, or when a person is convicted of certain drug offenses and sufficient time has passed between the date of conviction and the date of the proposed seal.

To seal your record, you must first file a petition with the District Court of the county in which the proceedings took place. The type of record you are seeking to seal—whether a record of a conviction or a record of arrest & dismissal—determines the type of petition you need to file. The petition must state the details of the record and all of the courts and law enforcement agencies that were involved in the proceedings. Additionally, your petition must list the background check agencies that you would like to notify regarding your sealed record. Along with the petition, you must also file three proposed orders: 1) an Order and Notice of Hearing, 2) an Order granting your petition to seal, and 3) an Order denying your petition to seal.

Next, the court will issue one of the orders you submitted. If the court issues the Order and Notice of Hearing, that means a hearing has been set to determine whether your record should be sealed. In those cases, it is your responsibility to mail a copy of the Order and Notice of Hearing to each law enforcement agency and each background check agency you listed on your petition. Then, each agency has the opportunity to object to your record being sealed and appear at the hearing. If any agency objects, the court will hold the hearing and decide. If no agency objects, then you do not have to show up to your hearing, and the court will simply issue the order to seal your record on that day.

If the court issues the order granting your petition to seal your record—without first issuing the order and notice of hearing—then you will simply have to mail each agency a copy of the order to seal. This usually happens in cases where there has been outright dismissal rather than a successfully completed deferred judgment or previous drug conviction. If the court issues the order denying your petition to seal your record—without first issuing the order and notice of hearing—then there likely has been some mistake in your filing or the wrong form was submitted.

The process to seal a record of your arrest or conviction can be complicated and time-consuming. It is wise to consult with an attorney who regularly handles record sealing so that you can be assured it will be handled correctly. Your attorney should be one who thoroughly handles the record seal and makes sure that the proper background check agencies are notified.