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What does it mean to have your records sealed?

Having your record sealed means that your records are no longer viewable to the public. Civilian background checks will not be able to find your record in the Colorado state record systems at all. It also means you can legally claim that you were never charged with the crime. There are a few minor exceptions, but in general, employers, employees, landlords, and state and local government cannot require disclosure of sealed conviction records in any way, including through applications or interviews. Further, even if the sealed record is discovered by a potential employer, your application cannot be denied solely because of a refusal to disclose sealed conviction records. Having your records sealed may allow you get a job, housing, loans, and many other things that might not be possible with a criminal record.

How does a case get sealed?

Generally, a motion or petition to the court is required to start the sealing process. At SealMyCourtCase.com, our attorneys will enter an appearance in your case and file the necessary motion or a petition with the court. In some instances, the court can rule on the motion without the need for a hearing. Other times a hearing may be required, in which case we will have a qualified attorney appear at the hearing for you and make your best argument to the court. Whenever the court orders a case to be sealed, SealMyCourtCase.com will then ensure your case sealing takes full effect by sending the court order to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the arresting law enforcement agency, so you can move on with your life.

Is there a required waiting period before a case can be sealed?

It depends. If your case was dismissed, either outright or after a successfully completed deferred judgment and sentence, it is likely eligible to be sealed immediately. Similarly, if you were acquitted at trial, or completed a diversion program, your case may also be sealed immediately. For cases where you were convicted of a crime, it will generally take at least two years, and sometimes as many as five, after fully completing the sentence to request that a case be sealed, but the amount of time will depend on the specific conviction. SealMyCourtCase.com’s legal team will help you determine whether you case is currently eligible for sealing, or whether it may be sometime in the future.

What if the Court refuses to seal my records?

Sometimes the court may not allow records to be sealed for various reasons. Fortunately, that does not necessarily mean that your records can never be sealed. The court can be petitioned every 12 months to seal records that it previously refused to seal. Changes in circumstances, or simply the added passage of time, may allow a court to reconsider and grant a sealing request that was previously denied. Although the court may eventually be re-petitioned, it is important to give yourself the best shot at sealing the first time around. However, if you have tried to seal your criminal case without success, SealMyCourtCase.com can help. Our skilled lawyers know how to fight on your behalf in court, giving you the very best chance for success.

But I was told my records were not sealable.

That may no longer be true. In 2019, the Colorado legislature passed an expansive law that made it possible to seal many types of records that were previously not sealable. In many cases, a record that was not previously eligible for sealing may now be able to be sealed. Our knowledgeable attorney’s can help you understand whether your case is eligible to be sealed, and how the benefits of sealing can positively impact your life. Contact SealMyCourtCase.com today to find out for free whether your case can be sealed, and take the first step in moving past your past.

What types of criminal records can be sealed?

There are many types of records that may now be eligible to be sealed, including:

  • Arrest records
  • Dismissed charges
  • Petty offenses
  • Drug petty offenses
  • Municipal offenses
  • Misdemeanors
  • Unclassified misdemeanors such as DUIs, DWAIs, and DURs
  • Domestic violence misdemeanors
  • Drug misdemeanors
  • Lower level felonies
  • Lower level drug felonies

If you believe you may have criminal records that fall under this list, contact SealMyCourtCase.com now to find out for free whether you have a case that may be eligible for sealing.

What are the chances my case will be successfully sealed?

Every case is different. While some cases are stronger than others, hiring SealMyCourtCase.com ensures that you have the best possible chance at a successful sealing, regardless of the strength of your case. Additionally, during your free phone consultation, our practiced case sealing attorneys can help you understand how strong of a case you have so you can make an informed decision about whether pursuing case sealing is right for you. Among other factors, the strength of your case will depend on how old it is, the level of charges, criminal history, and changes in circumstances. We work hard to understand the background behind your case and how it is holding you back, so that we can let you know the strength of your case and provide the best possible argument to the court.

Aren’t criminal records automatically sealed after a certain amount of time?

No. There is a common misconception that criminal records will be sealed after a certain amount of years. When it comes to state cases—cases that occurred in county or district court—that is simply not true. It is possible that a city case was sealed, or otherwise removed from a record, because municipal courts have their own rules and procedures for maintaining records. Most criminal charges come under the authority of the state, so chances are that the criminal record that you are concerned about has not been sealed, and is still visible to the general public. If you have questions about whether your record is visible and is eligible to be sealed, contact SealMyCourtCase.com today for a free consultation.

I completed a deferred sentence. Does that mean my charges have been sealed?

No. After successfully completing a deferred sentence, your charges should be dismissed. However, just because charges have been dismissed does not mean that the criminal records are sealed. In fact, it is most likely that your records have not been sealed and are still viewable by the general public. This means that, although you did not receive a conviction, your case and the charges that were pressed against you are still visible to anyone who is interested. Unfortunately, many employers, landlords, and educational institutions may not know or care enough to distinguish between a conviction and a dismissed case. In order to avoid this and seal your dismissed records, you will often still need to go through the separate process of sealing, which is where SealMyCourtCase.com can help.

How long does it take to have a criminal record sealed?

It takes anywhere from a few weeks to several months to receive a final ruling in a record sealing case. The time it takes depends on several factors such as the type of case for sealing, whether the District Attorney objects to sealing, and the judge that is ruling on the case. Less serious cases have a greater likelihood of being resolved more quickly, and without the need for a hearing. This is especially true if the District Attorney does not object to the case being sealed. If the case can be resolved without a hearing, the chances of a successful and expeditious sealing increase. However, some judges or jurisdictions will require hearings more often than others, which can cause delays. Additionally, judges often have very heavy dockets that can make it difficult for them to quickly rule on the case. There are many factors that come into play with how quickly a record can be sealed, but at SealMyCourtCase, LLC, we always keep the legal process moving along as quickly as possible, so you can finally move past your past.

Are domestic violence charges also sealable?

Yes, many domestic violence charges are eligible to be sealed as well, although convictions require passing a more stringent legal test. In Colorado, domestic violence is not actually a crime in itself. Rather, it is a modification which can be applied to other crimes, depending on the circumstances in which the crime was committed. Whether a domestic violence crime can be sealed will depend on how serious the underlying charges were and the outcome of the case. While domestic violence felonies are not generally sealable, many types of domestic violence misdemeanors can in fact be sealed. If you were convicted of a domestic violence crime, contact SealMyCourtCase.com to find out if your charges are eligible to be sealed.

I was arrested for a crime but was never charged because the police thought I was someone else. What happens in these cases of mistaken identity?

In cases of mistaken identity where the charges against you were dropped, the charges must be expunged. Expungement is even more extensive than sealing because in an expunged case, many of the physical files are destroyed. In cases of mistaken identity, it is actually law enforcement’s duty to petition the court to expunge the records within 90 days after determining the mistake. The court should order the records expunged within 90 days of receiving the petition.

Although law enforcement agencies are now supposed to petition for expungement of mistaken identification records on their own initiative, there is little doubt it is a low priority for them. If you have an old case of mistaken identity, it is likely that the agency may need to be prompted to take appropriate action to have that case expunged. If you have questions about this process or whether an attorney can help you with a mistaken identity case, please contact SealMyCourtCase.com.

Once a record has been sealed, is there any way for it to become unsealed?

Yes. While the 2019 sealing law makes it possible to seal many more types of records, it also allows for records to be unsealed. The most common way for a case to be unsealed is if you are subsequently convicted of another crime. After being convicted of a new crime, your sealed record will likely become unsealed. The good news is, your old case (and possibly your new case as well) may be eligible to be sealed once again sometime after you complete all the conditions of your new sentence. If you had a case unsealed and are wondering if it can be sealed again, contact SealMyCourtCase.com today.

Can juvenile charges be sealed?

Yes! More than that, many cases that occur in juvenile court may actually be able to be expunged. Some juvenile cases are handled in the juvenile court system, while others may take place in the ordinary court system, similar to how adult cases are handled. Juvenile cases that take place in the ordinary court system are subject to Colorado’s sealing statutes just as any other case would be. These cases may be able to be sealed, but generally expungement will not be an option. However, cases that take place in the juvenile court system may be able to be expunged.

According to C.R.S. §19-1-306, as of November 2019, the juvenile court is required to perform an annual review of juvenile delinquency court files that occurred within the previous two years and are eligible for expungement. However, the court may still overlook some juvenile court cases, especially those that occurred prior to November 2019. In those cases, it may be necessary to formally petition the court to expunge the record. Unless you have confirmed that your juvenile case was successfully expunged or sealed, your record may still be holding you back.

Is sealing the same thing as expungement?

No. Although the terms are often used interchangeably and can accomplish many of the same goals, sealing and expungement are not technically the same thing. Among other benefits, both sealed and expunged cases have the significant advantage not being visible to the general public. The primary difference between the two terms is that expungement is more thorough, often resulting in the physical destruction of the files, or at least having them clearly marked as being expunged. In Colorado, sealing a case is generally the only available option for restricting criminal history information. While sealing may not be quite as thorough as expungement, the practical benefits are largely the same. Sealing a criminal case may finally allow you to move beyond your past.

Will sealing my conviction allow me to purchase and use firearms again?

Unfortunately, not. Although having a criminal record sealed has many significant practical benefits, it does not actually “un-do” a conviction. A sealed record is not visible to the general public, however law enforcement may still access the record and use it for lawful purposes. This means that any legal requirements from the conviction will remain in effect, even after the record is sealed. Although sealing your criminal conviction will not restore your gun rights, it is important to remember there may be many other ways your criminal records are holding you back, and case sealing may still be worth pursuing.

Are sexual offenses eligible to be sealed?

The Colorado legislature takes sexual offenses very seriously and made sure that no serious sex crimes are eligible for sealing. This means all felonies for unlawful sexual behavior, as defined under C.R.S. §16-22-102(9), are completely ineligible to be sealed. However, some misdemeanor sexual offenses may still be sealed, depending on the case. While it may be possible to seal some types of sexual offenses, it is important to remember that a sealing does not mean the requirements of the conviction, such as sex offender registration, will remain in effect. Still, given the stigma surrounding these types of crimes, the benefits of sealing on both a professional, as well as a personal level, are worth well pursuing whenever it is at all possible.

Can federal background searches still access my old records?

It depends. There are multiple types of federal background checks which may be performed, and which have varying degrees of thoroughness. Unlike with common civilian background checks, federal background checks may still be able to see the existence of the sealed record. However, the information available to the background checks should generally be more limited. There will also likely be an indication that the case has been sealed. While this may not as beneficial as having the record be completely hidden from these types of background checks, it can still be very beneficial, depending on your circumstances and the specific federal background check that was performed. This, in addition to all of the other benefits that come with sealing a record, make case sealing an option worth strongly considering for nearly everyone.

Can out-of-state cases be sealed?

No. Colorado’s case sealing statutes only apply to Colorado cases. Any out-of-state or federal cases cannot be sealed though Colorado’s laws. Whatever previous or current connection you may have with the State of Colorado will not impact whether an out-of-state criminal record can be sealed under Colorado law. If you would like to seal an out-of-state criminal record, you will need to have it sealed under the jurisdiction in which it occurred. On the other hand, if you were charged with a crime in Colorado, whether it was through the district court, county court, or a city’s municipal court, SealMyCourtCase.com may be able to help you.