H. Michael Steinberg has over 32 years experience practicing Colorado criminal law. Mr. Steinberg strives to stay current with the ever changing aspects of criminal law issues and updates resulting in his extensive knowledge of successful criminal defense as well as appellate work. He is also an active member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar Association, the Colorado Trial Lawyer's Association, and the Colorado and Arapahoe Bar Associations.
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2011 Changes to Colorado Sealing Law: Sealing Colorado Drug Convictions

A new Colorado Law will assist people who have been convicted of certain drug crime misdemeanor and drug felonies with expunging / sealing their records
The bill amends the process for sealing the record of a criminal conviction under Colorado’s Uniform Controlled Substances Act, reduces the waiting period for certain classes of convictions, and authorizes the process of records sealing for additional classes of convictions. With limited exceptions, the bill applies only to convictions on or after July 1, 2011.

Existing law requires that:

• the sentencing court or probation department advise defendants of their petition rights;

• the State Court Administrator post a list of all petitions for at least 30 days prior to action on the petition by the district court;

• the defendant satisfies all outstanding costs in the underlying case prior to petitioning;

• the defendant provide a list of custodians of conviction records and, if successful,
pay each custodian for costs incurred to seal a record;

• a conviction record is not deemed a public conviction record and its disclosure may not be required for employment applications, rental housing applications, and other purposes, including questions by government agencies other than a criminal justice agency or the Board of Law Examiners;

• the destruction of sealed records is not authorized by virtue of the petition process; and
• conviction records will be unsealed if the defendant is later convicted of a new criminal offense or where, upon petition, the court finds the public interest outweighs the defendant’s interest in privacy.

The New Law: Colorado House Bill 11-1167

Sealing criminal records – drug offenses – time periods – district attorney approval – no reporting of sealed convictions – advisement of rights – applicability July 1, 2011.

This new law – which takes effect on July 1. 2011 amends the petition process for sealing certain drug offense criminal conviction records.

It Amends the time period the defendant has to wait to petition the court to seal the record which depends on the severity of the offense.

In order to have the record sealed, the defendant must show the court that he or she has not been convicted of another offense or been charged with another offense since the discharge of the offense for which the defendant is seeking to have sealed.

DA Can Object and Veto the Process

The district attorney has the right to object to the petition or veto the request for all offenses except petty offenses. Also depending on the severity of the offense, the court can:

(1) immediately order the record sealed,

or (2) can consider the petition based on established criteria,

or (3) can hold a hearing to decide the petition.

The court, in making the decision whether to seal conviction records, considers the privacy interests of the defendant against the public interest in retaining the conviction records as open records.

Conviction records cannot be sealed if the defendant still owes court-ordered restitution, fines, or fees.

A defendant who successfully petitions a court for the sealing of conviction records must provide the Colorado bureau of investigation (bureau) and each custodian of the conviction records with a copy of the court’s order to seal the conviction records and pay to the bureau any costs related to the sealing of the conviction records in the custody of the bureau.

Employers and certain institutions and agencies are prohibited from requiring an applicant to disclose information in sealed conviction records. Law enforcement will report that there are no public records in response to inquiries about sealed criminal conviction records. The office of the state court administrator must post on its web site a list of all petitions to seal conviction records that are filed with a district court.

The new law also prohibits district court from granting a petition to seal conviction records until at least 30 days following the posting.


24-72-308.6. sealing of criminal conviction records information

For offenses involving controlled substances for convictions entered on or after July 1, 2011.

(1) Definitions. For purposes of this section, “conviction records” means arrest and criminal records information and any records pertaining to a judgment of conviction.

(2) Sealing of conviction records.

(A) (i) subject to the Limitations described in subsection (4) of this section, a defendant may petition the district court of the district in which any conviction records pertaining to the defendant are located for the sealing of the conviction records, except basic identifying information, if the petition is filed within the time frame described in subparagraph (ii) of this paragraph (a).

Drug Crimes – Petty Offenses or Class 2 or 3 Misdemeanors (three years)

(II) (A) If the offense is a petty offense or a class 2 or 3 Misdemeanor in article 18 of title 18, CRS the petition may be filed three years after the later of the date of the final disposition of all criminal proceedings against the defendant or the release of the defendant from supervision concerning a criminal conviction.

Drug Crimes – Class 1 Misdemeanors (five years)

(B) If the offense is a class 1 misdemeanor in article 18 of Title 18, CRS, the petition may be filed five years after the later of the date of the final disposition of all criminal proceedings against the defendant or the release of the defendant from supervision concerning a criminal conviction.

Drug Crimes – Class 5 and Class 6 Felonies (seven years)

(C) if the offense is a class 5 felony or class 6 felony drug possession offense described in section 18-18-403.5 or 18-18-404, CRS., or section 18-18-405, CRS., as it existed prior to August 11, 2010, the petition may be filed seven years after the later of the date of the final disposition of all criminal proceedings against.