SB22-099: automatic sealing of records for nonviolent crimes

On May 31, 2022, Colorado passed a law requiring records for nonviolent crimes to be automatically sealed. Before this, only certain drug offenses were automatically sealed. This law prevents employers, employees, landlords, or other parties from accessing sealed or expunged records. Background checks unrelated to criminal investigations cannot see or disclose any sealed or expunged records.

So what does this mean for the average citizen?

As of July 1, 2023, the State of Colorado is currently compiling lists of records that will be automatically sealed without the Defendant needing to request it. Eligible cases include all civil infractions that have been completely closed for four years and all petty offenses or misdemeanors that have been completely closed for seven years. It also includes certain nonviolent felonies but with a 10-year requirement.

These lists do not include crimes subject to the Victims Rights Act, like Domestic Violence. The list will be compiled starting July 1, 2024, and will be compiled quarterly. The lists will then be forwarded to each District Attorney, who can object within 45 days. Objections will be removed from the list for automatic renewal, but all remaining cases will be sealed by the courts within two weeks of their receipt.

The courts will then send the orders to seal to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation who will then seal the records. Defendants can get a copy of their sealing order and also use a confidential website to confirm their case was properly sealed.

Why are certain cases objected to?

The District Attorney may object to a case if the plea agreement states that the record will not be sealed, if there is a pending criminal charge, an intervening charge, or if they believe the conviction is ineligible for sealing. The District Attorney must provide their reason for objecting after which the Defendant will be notified and have the opportunity to request a hearing on the matter.

Underage alcohol possession or consumption charges and underage possession of marijuana paraphernalia charges are automatically sealed after the completion of court-ordered substance abuse education.

Once a record is sealed, who still has access?

Sealed records are still available to the Defendant, law enforcement agencies, criminal justice agencies, prosecuting attorneys, or governmental agencies that require disclosure of criminal records. Employers, employees, landlords, and any other entity do not have access to a sealed record.

They cannot require the disclosure of any sealed records, use references or information related to the sealed record, or make you answer any questions about the sealed records.

Any dismissed cases and most deferred judgment cases already get automatically sealed. These records do need to be sealed through the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. To get your records sealed, send the court order to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation with a payment of $20. This step does not require an attorney and any attorney providing assistance must understand the new laws on the automatic sealing of records.

How can I request my record be sealed?

Even if a record is not eligible for automatic sealing, you may request your records to be sealed. To seal your records, you can send a request to the Colorado Judicial Branch.

For more information on the Clean Slate Act, visit the Colorado General Assembly’s website.

Need Legal Advice?

If you are in Colorado and have been charged with a crime, contact Krizman Law TODAY for a confidential review of your legal case.

Colorado LawColorado’s Clean Slate Act (SB22-099) Automatic Record Sealing