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Sealing Your Record in Colorado: A Breakdown of Costs in 2024

The cost to seal a record in Colorado can vary depending on several factors, including the type of record being sealed and the specific procedures involved. In Colorado, the process of sealing records is often referred to as “expungement” or “sealing of criminal records.”
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Collen Clark Published by Collen Clark

What is the Sealing of a Record?

According to LawInfo, sealing criminal records blocks access and hides them from the general public and most background checks. However, the police department may still be able to see your prior criminal charges in a police background check [1].

Additionally, despite records being sealed, criminal justice entities and state attorneys might leverage them if you face subsequent charges.

For instance, suppose you’ve had a DUI conviction and successfully sealed your records. In this case, any background check won’t reveal your past DUI offense. However, if you’re involved in another DUI incident, the prosecutor could utilize your prior offense to pursue charges for a second DUI, potentially resulting in heightened penalties.

What is Expungement?

According to FindLaw, expungement, the process of erasing an arrest or criminal conviction from a person’s record, offers a promising route for many individuals. However, it’s important to note that expungement eligibility isn’t universal and varies depending on the jurisdiction where the arrest or conviction occurred [2].

While this is an attractive option, it isn’t available for all arrests and convictions. Whether expungement is available mainly depends on the jurisdiction in which the arrest or conviction occurred. The police department where you were taken after an arrest is typically the jurisdiction of your case

Additionally, certain convictions, such as misdemeanors or gross misdemeanors, may be eligible for expungement in some states, whereas felony convictions may not qualify. Furthermore, offenses like domestic violence or traffic violations might be excluded from expungement eligibility in certain jurisdictions.

It’s worth noting that while most states offer confidentiality protections for juvenile records, the process of expunging or sealing juvenile records varies significantly based on state law. Therefore, understanding the nuances of expungement laws in your specific jurisdiction is crucial in pursuing this legal remedy.

What is a Pardon?

According to Nolo, a pardon serves as an official exemption from punishment for a crime, representing a powerful tool within the legal system. This authority to grant pardons is inherently vested in the people, who may delegate this power to designated officials, such as the President or a state governor, as outlined in state constitutions [3].

Pardons are typically granted to individuals, although there are instances where they may apply to groups of people. The decision to grant or deny a pardon rests entirely within the discretion of the executive authority, whether it be the President or a state governor. Importantly, this decision is usually considered final and is not subject to judicial review, emphasizing the significant autonomy wielded by the executive in matters of pardoning.

Expungement vs Sealed Record vs Expungement?

Expungement effectively removes a conviction or arrest from a person’s criminal record and background checks, while sealing a record keeps it hidden from public access, though it remains accessible to certain authorized entities. The specific procedures for expungement or sealing records are outlined in state legislation.

Expungement and sealing records differ significantly from a pardon. While expungement or sealing does not absolve the criminal conduct, it often follows the resolution or dismissal of a case. On the other hand, a pardon, which may be granted by a Governor at the state level or the President at the federal level, does excuse the behavior, offering amnesty and potentially alleviating associated penalties.

Unlike expungement or sealing, a pardon can be issued regardless of conviction or ongoing charges, as demonstrated by President Ford’s pardon of President Nixon during the Watergate scandal.

When considering expungement versus sealing, it’s crucial to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of each, as their implications can vary widely depending on the jurisdiction.

Factors influencing your decision might include:

  • The cost associated with each option
  • The complexity of the process, which may require court appearances or merely submitting paperwork
  • The necessity and affordability of legal representation
  • The duration required to finalize the process, which could range from weeks to months

Remember that these options may be limited in some states. States also may use the terms interchangeably — so ask an attorney what results you will get from each option.

How Much Does it Cost to Seal Your Record in Colorado?

In Colorado, the cost to seal records varies depending on the case type. The fees are as follows: $65 to seal a single conviction, $224 to seal multiple convictions or an arrest record that did not lead to charges, and there is no charge for sealing a case that resulted in dismissal or acquittal.

Additionally, you can expect to spend approximately $20 to obtain your criminal record, which is the initial step in the sealing process, and around $5 for postage to send out the “order to seal,” which marks the conclusion of the process.

It’s important to note that there are no court fees for expunging juvenile records or underage DUI cases.

Furthermore, Colorado offers the option to automatically seal certain records after a number of years, which incurs no cost. However, opting to manually seal your records as soon as you qualify can expedite the process, despite the associated fees. This can be particularly beneficial for moving forward without the burden of a past record.

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References:

1. https://www.lawinfo.com/resources/criminal-defense/expungement/whats-the-difference-between-expunged
2. https://www.findlaw.com/criminal/expungement/what-s-the-difference-between-expunged-vs–sealed-records
3. https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/pardons.html

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