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Colorado has an enacted an expungement law that will benefit people who are convicted after July 1, 2011 of certain drug related offenses, but do nothing for those convicted prior.

The new law, HB 11-1167, changes the process for sealing the record of a criminal conviction for certain drug offenses. Titled “Concerning the Petition Process for the Sealing of Certain Drug offense Records” and passed July 1, 2011, the bill purports to make it easier for persons with these convictions to later find employment and move on with their lives. The bill amends existing law, reducing the waiting period for certain classes of convictions and authorizing the process of records sealing for additional classes. With a few limited exceptions, the bill only applies to convictions on or after July 1, 2011.

If eligible, the petitioner would apply to the district court in which he or she was convicted of the drug offense. The court would then weigh the harm to the petitioner’s privacy and the dangers of unwarranted employment and personal consequences against the public’s interest in keeping the conviction record open. If the harms to petitioner outweigh the public interest, the record is sealed.

The district attorney is involved in the process, given the right to object to the petition for all crimes other than petty offenses. The court has the option to (1) order the record sealed, (2) consider the petition based on criteria under the law, or (3) hold a hearing.

The bill does not propose to vacate the petitioner’s sentence, but rather makes the record less accessible. Additionally, the person wanting his or her record sealed is responsible for all fees, administrative or otherwise, associated in sealing that record. Finally, if a person who has a record sealed is convicted of another offense, the record is unsealed.

Written by Mathew Higbee, Esq

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