Record Sealing in Colorado - 2021 Changes
In September 2021, Colorado record sealing laws changed in a few important ways. In general, the same types of charges are still ineligible to seal and the same timelines exist for determining how long a petitioner must wait before applying to seal a conviction record. Visit my blog post on eligibility for more information.
However, the Colorado legislature enacted several important changes: 1) a petitioner can now have subsequent criminal convictions and still be eligible to seal a past conviction; 2) automatic sealing of arrest records; and 3) automatic sealing of drug offense convictions.
Sealing of Multiple Conviction records - C.R.S. §24-72-709
Prior to September 2021, in order for a petitioner to seal a conviction, they must not have been convicted of any new crimes since the final date of supervision for the case they are seeking to seal. However, after September 2021, the Colorado law changed to allow a defendant to file a petition to seal, even if they have been convicted subsequently.
For example, John Smith is convicted of misdemeanor theft in May 2008. He was sentenced to one year of probation, with the completion date of May 2009. He was convicted of misdemeanor criminal trespassing in September 2012. Prior to this law change, John would not be able to seal his theft conviction, because he has a new conviction after the final date of his release from supervision. However, with the change in the law, John is now eligible to seal the theft case (as well as the 2012 case).
There are waiting periods and a cap on the number of convictions a petitioner can have though.
If a person is convicted of another offense during the waiting period, but the person has been crime-free for a minimum number of years, they can petition to seal multiple convictions. If the highest level conviction was a:
Petty offense or drug petty offense(with no more than 5 convictions in separate criminal cases), the petition can be filed 2 years after final disposition.
Misdemeanors, drug misdemeanors or DF4s (with not more than 4 convictions in separate criminal cases), the petition can be filed five years after final disposition
Felonies or drug felonies (with no more than 3 convictions in separate criminal cases), the petition can be filed ten years after final disposition.
Automatic Sealing of Drug Convictions
The State Court Administrators Office shall develop a list of drug convictions eligible for sealing under the current law (see ineligible offenses) by February 1, 2024.
For misdemeanors and petty drug offenses, automatic sealing 7 years after the "disposition of the case." (not final date of sentence as in other timeline waiting periods).
For felony drug offenses, 10 years after the "disposition of the case."
Between February and July 2024, the court and the District Attorney may review the list of names to confirm eligibility based on crime and whether the waiting period has elapsed. By July 1, 2024, eligible conviction records shall be sealed.
Defendants can still petition for sealing at an earlier time if are otherwise eligible.
Automatic Sealing of Arrest Records when No Charges Filed - CRS §24-72-704
For arrests after January 1, 2022, all arrest records within CBI shall be sealed one year after the date of the arrest if no charges have been filed. After one year, CBI has 60 days to complete the sealing unless they have received notice from the court or prosecutor that a case has been filed.
For arrests between January 1, 2019 and January 1, 2022: If no charges are filed, felony arrests for crimes with a statute of limitations of 3 years shall be sealed 3 years after the date of the arrest. If no charges are filed, misdemeanor traffic, petty offense, and municipal ordinance violations shall be sealed 18 months after the date of the arrest.
Arrests with no charges filed in 2013 to 2018 – sealed by January 1, 2023.
Arrests with no charges filed in 2008 to 2012 – sealed by January 1, 2024.
Arrests with no charges filed in 2003 to 2007 – sealed by January 1, 2025.
Arrests with no charges filed in 1997 to 2003 – sealed by January 1, 2026.
All other pre-2022 arrests with no charges filed shall be sealed by January 1, 2027.
Arrests for crimes with a statute of limitations over 3 years are not eligible for automatic sealing but can be sealed by petition. The petition is always available for earlier sealing of any offenses pursuant to additional provisions of CRS § 24-72-704.