Can I expunge my criminal record?
Records of previous arrests do not disappear on their own. In fact, arrest records stick around and can create complications down the road when a background check is required. This means that previous arrest records can impact applications for employment, housing and educational advancement. Beyond any practical consequences, a criminal arrest can be embarrassing and you may have the legal right to keep your past in the past.
Expungement is the legal term for the destruction of items on your personal record; this includes both print and electronic files. Unlike sealing, expungement destroys records entirely, thus preventing even courts and law enforcement agencies from accessing your records.
Requirements for expungement in Colorado
Though not all records can be expunged, there are a few noteworthy exceptions. You are eligible to seek expungement if any of the following apply:
- You were arrested and subsequently released without charges
- Your case was dismissed before reaching a verdict
- A not guilty verdict was reached in your case
Colorado also provides expungement in certain cases involving controlled substances. The right to petition for expungement depends on the crime for which you were convicted. If you have records involving a petty offense, you may petition for expungement once 3 years have elapsed following criminal proceedings or supervision for a conviction (if relevant). For Class 1 misdemeanors, you must wait 5 years before petitioning and for Class 5 or 6 felony drug possession, the waiting period is 7 years. These timelines apply to crimes committed on or after July 1, 2011; your attorney can provide you with information about timelines for controlled substance cases convictions prior to this date.
Keep in mind that you must first successfully meet all conditions of your original sentence before petitioning for expungement.
Cases in which expungement is not possible
Though expungement is permitted in the cases mentioned above, there are a number of record types for which expungement is not possible. These include Class 1 or 2 misdemeanors related to traffic incidents, Class A or B traffic infractions, convictions related to DUI (driving under the influence) and convictions that involve commercial vehicle operation. In addition, Colorado does not permit the expungement or sealing of any records pertaining to unlawful sexual behavior.
Want to clean up your record?
Circumstances related to arrest records are very personal, and the expungement process can be a complicated one. At Anaya-McKedy, P.C., our criminal defense attorneys understand the importance of getting those records clean and we will guide you through each step of the petition process. Consultations are complementary and we look forward to discussing the petition process with you.