Most people make mistakes at some point in their lives, and most people deserve a fresh start. But some mistakes can be more detrimental than others, and these mistakes tend to have consequences that follow you around for the rest of your life. An obvious example is a criminal charge on your record. In case you are not aware, your criminal record can be viewed by a range of different people, including friends, family, potential employers, landlords, and many others.
Is it possible to erase your criminal records in Colorado? This is a question many people ask themselves at some point in their lives, and the answer is not always straightforward. For the most part, each situation is slightly different, and your ability to erase your criminal record depends on a number of factors (including the nature of your charges). However, your ability to pursue positive results in this endeavor also depends on your choice of lawyer. Work with a qualified, experienced criminal justice attorney in Northern Colorado, and you can erase your records with greater efficiency.
Can You Really “Erase” Criminal Records in Colorado?
There is no mention of “erasing” criminal records in Colorado's many laws. However, the closest thing to “erasing” your records is a legal process called “expungement.” This involves physically destroying all traces of your criminal records – so in many ways, it is better than “erasing” your records. However, it is only available for certain criminals who have committed certain crimes.
In the State of Colorado, expungement is only available to juveniles. It may also apply to an underage DUI if you were between the age of 18 and 21, so this process is available for adults as well under fairly rare circumstances. That being said, many juvenile crimes are completely eligible for expungement, such as extremely violent offenses or other heinous crimes. If you committed a crime as a juvenile and you are not sure whether you can have this record expunged, be sure to speak with a lawyer for more information and guidance.
What Happens When My Records are Sealed in Colorado?
Although expungement only applies to juveniles and certain DUIs in Colorado, there is another way to clear your name and make your records less accessible. This process is known as “sealing.” When your records are “sealed,” it means that they are hidden away from prying eyes. Only certain people can access these records, such as law enforcement officers carrying out legitimate investigations. People must provide a viable reason before they can access these hidden records. Perhaps most notably, average members of the public cannot access your sealed records.
These average members of the public include potential employers, landlords, or new romantic partners. Even if they search for these records, they will find nothing. Furthermore, you are legally allowed to say that you have never been convicted of a crime if you are questioned. Even though this statement is technically not true, you will generally not face any legal consequences for making it. While it is a good idea to be as honest as possible about your past when communicating with law enforcement professionals, you should get away with making this statement during an interview with a potential new employer, for example.
Who Gets Their Records Sealed in Colorado?
In many cases, sealing is an automatic process. For example, if you were arrested without any charges being filed, all records of your arrest should be sealed right away. If you were charged, but a “not guilty” verdict was reached, your records should also be sealed. In addition, courts may agree to seal certain records on a case-by-case basis, especially to protect the identity or privacy of certain victims and involved parties. Records may also be sealed automatically after certain legal changes, such as the legalization of specific drugs.
In other situations, however, you will need to take matters into your own hands and seal the records yourself. You can do this with help from an experienced criminal justice attorney in Colorado. A lawyer can also help you pursue certain programs and alternative sentencing plans. These might include going through drug rehab or alcohol treatment instead of jail time. You might also carry out community service or be placed under house arrest. As long as you abide by the rules of your sentencing, these alternative sentencing programs may also be eligible for sealing.
Many minor convictions are eligible for sealing, including minor drug possession charges, petty municipal offenses, most misdemeanors, and even a few low-level felonies. There are different wait times for sealing depending on your situation and your specific charges. Sometimes, you need to wait several years before you can move forward with the sealing process. In other situations, you might have to wait just one year.
What Happens if I Do Not Get My Records Sealed?
Not having your records sealed may affect your life in a number of different ways. Under Colorado law, potential employers are also allowed to access publicly-available criminal records and make decisions based on their findings. If your records are sealed, employers cannot access these records. If your records have not been sealed, this can prevent you from getting hired. That being said, employers cannot ask you about your criminal background during the initial screening. If you make the first cut, they can then carry out a background check and ask you about your records.
Your criminal records may also affect many other aspects of your life, including:
- Credit checks
Where Can I Find a Qualified Criminal Justice Attorney in Northern Colorado?
If you have been searching for an experienced criminal justice attorney in Northern Colorado, look no further than Casey James Alexander. We understand that you might be dealing with serious roadblocks to a happy, normal life with a criminal record hanging over your shoulder. The good news is that this does not need to continue. With our assistance, you can explore a range of strategies for clearing your name, establishing a solid reputation in your community, and enjoying the same rights as everyone else. Book your consultation today to get started.