Case Sealing

Criminal sealing attorney Patterson Weaver can help you seal your criminal case, reducing its long-term impact on your career, family, and life. Serving Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Teller County, and the surrounding areas, criminal defense and sealing lawyer Patterson Weaver has the experience and knowledge to get your case sealed, helping to protect your family, life, and career.

Even a single offense on your criminal record can have incredible adverse consequences to your career. Often, employers run background checks on potential or current employees without that person even knowing. A case on your record can lead to not getting a job, or if you already have it, losing that job. In many cases, the person does not even know they were either terminated or not hired because of their prior offense. All they know is that they are unemployed. Additionally, in many health and education related careers even a deferred sentence on your record can impact your professional license. Don’t take a chance with your livelihood. Contact Colorado Springs criminal defense lawyer Patterson Weaver to help you seal your record.

What Are the Benefits of Having My Case Sealed?

Sealing a case means that normal non-law enforcement background checks cannot see even a record of the arrest, let alone the case itself. Potential and current employers that run a background check on you will simply not see the sealed case. Moreover, under the Colorado Revised Statutes, if you are asked on a job application or educational application if you have ever been arrested for a crime, you can legally exclude the case that was sealed from your answer. See C.R.S. 24-72-702(1)(f)(I). Additionally, an employer or educational institution, if they should somehow discover your sealed case, cannot legally deny you a job or admission solely on the basis of the record. See C.RS. 24-72-702(1)(f)(I). While law enforcement will still be able to see the existence of the case, most background checks that pop up during everyday life will not.

How Is Sealing a Case Different from Expunging a Case?

Many states permit individuals to expunge cases in some circumstances, and therefore people in Colorado looking to seal their case often use the term “expunged.” While juvenile cases in Colorado can be expunged, unfortunately under Colorado law it is not possible to “expunge” a non-juvenile case (at least when that term is properly used). The difference is that expunging a case means to actually destroy even the physical file, and to erase all traces of the case from all databases. Except for eligible juvenile offenses, our legislature in Colorado has decided that our laws should not go that far, reasoning that law enforcement should always have access to old case files if needed. Instead, Colorado permits sealing of the cases, which greatly restricts who can see and access sealed criminal cases. For most purposes in daily life, sealing a criminal case, while not the same as expungement, is still far better than not having the case sealed.

Who Can Seal Their Case and Who Can’t?

Not everyone can seal their case. Colorado law excludes many types of cases from being eligible for sealing. While sealing dismissed cases, or cases with successfully completed deferred sentences is typically possible, sealing cases with outright convictions is not (with a couple exceptions relating to some drug offenses). Sadly it is also not possible to seal most traffic cases in Colorado, including most common traffic tickets. Additionally, DUI cases dismissed as part of a successfully completed deferred sentence are not sealable. However, in some circumstances, it may be possible to seal a DUI if all charges were completely dismissed or if you were completely acquitted of all charges in the matter. In many instances, whether a case can or cannot be sealed can be a complicated matter. You should consult with experienced sealing Attorney Patterson Weaver regarding whether your particular matter can or cannot be sealed.

Sometimes, even if a case can be sealed pursuant to statute, there can be language in a plea agreement that prevents sealing regardless. Unfortunately, the District Attorney’s Office for El Paso and Teller counties often includes a provision in their deferred sentence paperwork forbidding the defendant from later petitioning to seal a case, even if they successfully complete the deferred sentence. However, this language is not in every deferred sentence plea agreement, and even if it is in yours, it is still sometimes possible to persuade the deputy district attorney to allow you to pursue sealing your case. If you are interested in sealing your case, you should consult with experienced Colorado Springs criminal defense attorney Patterson Weaver about your specific circumstances.

How Does the Court Decide If My Case Should Be Sealed?

Because of recent legislative changes, some cases can now be sealed much more quickly and automatically than they could previously. Essentially—there are now two different ways to pursue sealing.

Pursuant to C.R.S. §24-72-702.5, a defendant may request an eligible case be sealed verbally on the record at the time of the dismissal of the case. Sealing with this provision is arguably pretty automatic on eligible cases, as the court cannot make judgment calls on the appropriateness of sealing. Once the sealing is ordered, the defendant must pay a $65 fee to process the sealing.

The old way of sealing pursuant to C.R.S. $24-72-702.5 is also still available. Under this statute, the defendant must file a petition to seal a case. The court does an initial review of the petition, and if it is adequate on its face, will set the matter for a hearing. In determining whether to seal a case, “if the court finds that the harm to the privacy of the petitioner or dangers of unwarranted adverse consequences to the petitioner outweigh the public interest in retaining the records, the court may order such records, except basic identification information, to be sealed.” C.R.S. 24-72-702(1)(b)(II)(B). In other words, it’s a balancing test between the public’s interest in keeping the record public, and your interest in having it sealed. If the District Attorney’s office objects to your petition to seal, having a sealing attorney to help you present your case and argue your matter to the court can be invaluable and can greatly increase the chances of successfully sealing the case.

Because §24-72-702 is far more complicated than §24-72-702.5, permits the court to deny sealing if it does not see harm, and is more expensive, it is usually preferable to attempt to seal cases under §24-72-702.5. However, every situation is different, and you should consult with sealing attorney Patterson Weaver about which course of action is best for your case.

What Do I Do If I Want to Find Out If I Can Seal My Case?

If you are interested in sealing your case, and preventing future negative impact on your life, family, and career, call an experienced criminal defense attorney Patterson Weaver today. Colorado Springs attorney Patterson Weaver can help you determine if your case can be sealed and if so, can help give you your best chance at successfully sealing the case. Call sealing lawyer Patterson Weaver today for a free consultation.

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