Some drug cases where the conviction date occurred between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2011 in Colorado can be sealed. Specific procedures and criteria pertain to these “magical dates” (July 1, 20018 through June 20, 2011) enacted by the legislature.
Which types of conviction records can be sealed? Petty and Misdemeanor drug convictions are eligible. Also, Felony convictions related to Class 5 or Class 6 Felony offenses may be sealed. However, cases which are ineligible are those related to the following: 1) possession with intent to manufacture, dispense or sell drugs; 2) attempt or conspiracy to sell, dispense, or manufacture drugs; 3) selling, manufacturing, or dispensing drugs.
There is a waiting period for sealing these convictions. The waiting period is 10 years or more after the date of the final disposition of all criminal proceedings or the petitioner’s release from supervision concerning a criminal conviction (whichever is later). Furthermore, the petitioner must not have been charged or convicted of a criminal offense in the 10 or more years since the date of the final disposition of all criminal proceedings against the petitioner, or the petitioner’s release from any forms of supervision, whichever is later.
Thus, yes some drug convictions are eligible, but a petitioner must qualify to the EXACT criteria listed above, otherwise chances are that the petition to seal will be denied.
Court fines, restitution, late fees, and any other fees outstanding in the case must be paid in advance of filing. A petition to seal criminal conviction records pertaining to convictions that occurred in Colorado between July 1, 21008 and June 30, 2011 may be filed once every 12 months. The petition should be filed in the district court in the county where the conviction occurred.
If the court determines that the petition is sufficient on its face then the court will set the case for a hearing on the petition. It is important that the petitioner be prepared for the hearing. The court will use a balancing test to determine if the petitioner’s interest in sealing the records outweighs the public’s interest in retaining the records. Many of the factors the Court will utilize in the balancing test include the following: the government’s interest in retaining the records in public view, the severity of the offense for which the petitioner has requested a record seal, the dates and number of convictions the petitioner is requesting to be sealed, the overall criminal history of the petitioner, and the district attorney’s position on the sealing. It is important that the petitioner be able to articulate at the hearing how her interest in sealing the records outweighs the public’s interest. If the petitioner cannot convince the court of the unwarranted adverse consequences to the petitioner of retaining the records in the public domain, then the petitioner may lose the hearing and not achieve a record seal.
If, however the petitioner is successful, then it is critical that the petitioner request that the civil suit to seal the records is also sealed. Otherwise the underlying criminal records will be sealed however the petition to seal (with all of the criminal information contained in the petition) will remain open to public view.
A downside to not convincing the court to seal the records or not carefully reading the statute to determine eligibility before filing is that the petitioner will actually create an additional court case referencing the details of the underlying criminal case. In other words, not only will the petitioner still have open records in the criminal case for public view, the public may also now view a civil suit which references the details of the criminal case. Thus, the petitioner has now essentially doubled some of the records in public view that she was trying to seal. Thus creating a “one step forward, two steps back” scenario regarding the petitioner’s attempt to get the case off her record.
Successfully sealing a person’s criminal history records can very powerful. It can have an enormous impact upon a person’s approach/ability to obtain a job, apply for schooling, social status, and countless other areas where not having a criminal record is important. Attention to detail, preparation, and a firm understanding of the law and process are critical to correctly sealing criminal drug conviction records in Colorado.