When Community Educational Outreach clients enter into the employment search phase of their program they face many challenges, and none may loom larger than their offense record which continues to follow them on their pursuit of securing a productive life.
In a recent Blog post we spoke about current efforts to change the method of screening former felons by “banning” the felony question box for the initial interview, affording former felons the opportunity to establish a good first impression, before the felony is discussed.
Another major challenge for former felons is the continued availability of their arrest records to the public. There are some circumstances which permit the “sealing” of such records. Following is an overview of the current status of criminal offense record sealing/expungement. (A complete document relating to this topic is made available as a PDF download)
Sealing vs. Expungement of Records
First of all “sealing” of records in Colorado generally means that the record is “hidden” from the general public. On the other hand “expungement” generally refers to totally destroying the record. But in fact, in Colorado, the two terms are interchangeable with “sealing” being the term that most closely applies.
Four Categories of Record Sealing
The four categories pertaining to criminal record sealing are:
- Sealing Records for Dismissed Cases
- Sealing Records involving some Drug Offenses
- Sealing Records of Petty Offenses and Municipal Code Violations
- Sealing Records for Juveniles
Overview: Sealing Records for Dismissed Cases
This includes charges that were dismissed, or charges where a person was acquitted. Also includes instances where there was an arrest but charges were not filed. Also applies to when a case has been dismissed due to a plea bargain and 10 years have passed without accumulating additional charges.
There are other conditions which are outlined in the full document.
Overview: Sealing Records involving some Drug Offenses
Generally a drug offense record can be sealed , if ten or more years have passed since the offense and a final disposition was met, and the offender has not received any additional charges. There are lots of conditions surround this instance of sealing a record which could prevent such an action including time frames – degree of seriousness and so on.
Overview: Sealing Records of Petty Offenses & Municipal Code Violations
A petty offense can generally be sealed if three or more years have passed and no further offenses have occurred – both misdemeanor and felony level of course. People who owe fines, restitution and such cannot take advantage of this instance of record sealing.
Overview” Sealing Records for Juveniles
This area includes sealing some records for juveniles who were charged as an adult but sentenced as a juvenile. Different time periods apply for petitioning based on the severity of the juvenile charge.
When Records Cannot Be Sealed
The following are broad areas of offenses which prevent the sealing of a criminal record:
- Sexual Offenses cannot be sealed
- Persons owing fines, fees, court costs, restitution, etc., cannot be sealed
Initiating The “Sealed Record” & What It Means
A petition must be filed in the District Court where the records are located and all agencies who maintain the record must be notified.
- Once a judge grants the sealing of the record, a person is no longer obligated to disclose any information relating to that offense to any employer, educational institution, state or local government agency, and in any application for an interview
- If an interviewer does inquire about criminal records existing, you can legally claim that no such action has ever occurred or that any criminal record has ever existed.
- Also, all criminal justice agencies are required to state that no such record has ever existed.
Law Enforcement Still Have Access to Records
Persons should know that their past records can still be shared between law enforcement agencies in future cases or whenever an inquiry is made by any criminal justice agency. Also keep in mind that the information presented here only pertains to the State of Colorado.
Full Document Download
Here are the full five page document outlining complete requirements permitting sealing/expungement of criminal records – including a listing related statutes: