Is Colorado in the Midst of a Records Sealing Movement?
With state policy trending toward closing or expunging criminal records, proponents consider next steps

by Doug Chartier

A nationwide trend of criminal justice reform has encompassed not just how people are sentenced but the rights they have after they’ve completed their sentence.

Colorado is one of several states expanding the types of criminal convictions that people can have sealed from public view, as well as making existing seal processes easier. A major bill to come out of this year’s legislative session, House Bill 1275, went into effect in August. Cities in Colorado have also recently joined others in the U.S. in allowing people to have minor marijuana convictions expunged.

Proponents say enabling people to have their criminal records sealed or expunged can give them more financial stability after they’ve served their time for a conviction. With HB 1275 opening some doors for those individuals, policymakers in Colorado are considering ways to take records-sealing rights a step further.

HB 1275, which had bipartisan support, expanded the types of convictions that were eligible for seal in Colorado and assigned those convictions a waiting period. For example, defendants can now have a petty offense sealed after one year of completing their sentence.The bill also expanded records sealing to include a Class 1 misdemeanor and a Class 4 felony, which are eligible for seal after three years.

But many convictions remain ineligible for seal, including DUI or DWAI, child or domestic abuse and sex offenses. District attorneys may also object to a defendant’s petition to seal a record.

To read the rest of this story and other complete articles featured in the Oct. 14, 2019 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online.