top of page

The difference between Sealing and Expunging a criminal record

In Colorado, adult criminal records can be sealed from public view. Only juvenile records can be expunged. So what is the difference between sealing a criminal record and

expunging one?

expunge; expungement; record sealing

The terms can have specific meanings in different states, but the following is true in Colorado.


Expungement means the procedure whereby a court orders the erasure and the physical destruction of records.

To “expunge” is to “erase or remove completely.” An expungement order directs the court to treat the criminal conviction as if it had never occurred, essentially removing it from a defendant’s criminal record as well as, ideally, the public record. In Colorado, expungement means “the designation of juvenile delinquency records whereby such records are deemed never to have existed.” C.R.S. 19-1-103.

Expungement in Colorado only applies to juvenile records.


Sealing a criminal record prevents public access to a person's criminal record.

Sealing does not prevent prosecuting attorneys, law enforcement, or certain government agencies from accessing the records for past, present, or future use. Records are maintained. C.R.S. 24-72-703(2)(a)(I).

Sealing is different from expungement. Expunged records are treated as if they never existed. Sealed records allows access to the record by government entities, such as prosecutors, judges, law enforcement and other agencies. Sealing does, however, prevent public access to the record. A public background search would not show a sealed record. This generally opens up job and housing opportunities for individuals with sealed records.

If you'd like to speak to an experienced lawyer about sealing a record, you can now easily book a consultation at

80 views0 comments


bottom of page