Colorado Introduces Bill to Automatically Seal Some Records

You may be familiar with sealed criminal records. Generally, sealed records are not accessible with a public record search.

Pending legislation in Colorado may create an express path to sealing records. On February 1, 2022, Colorado SB22-099 was introduced in the Colorado legislature. If passed, the bill would create a way to seal some criminal and civil records automatically.

According to the legislative summary, among other things, “The bill extends… automatic sealing to all of the offenses, including civil infractions, that allow the defendant to petition the court for sealing criminal justice records that are not subject to the victims’ rights act.”

Let’s get to know more about what is happening with this pending legislation.

What Would and Would Not Be Automatically Sealable

The bill expands the list of automatically sealable conviction records to include, with some exceptions:

  • Conviction records that are eligible for sealing under state law
  • Civil infractions, if four years have passed since final disposition
  • Petty offenses or misdemeanor convictions, if seven years have passed since final disposition
  • Eligible felonies, if ten years have passed since final disposition or the release of a defendant from supervision, whichever is later.

The bill excludes convictions for crimes listed under the Colorado Victims’ Rights Act. This exception prevents certain serious crimes from becoming eligible for the automatic sealing process, such as murder, assault, kidnapping, aggravated robbery, child abuse, and more.

Proposed Path to Sealing a Record

The state would manage the process of automatically sealing eligible conviction records. According to SB22-099, the path to automatically seal a conviction record would include:

1. The state court administrator generates a quarterly report of conviction records eligible for automatic sealing.

2. The list is forwarded to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (“Bureau”). The Bureau is required to compare the list with criminal history reports. The Bureau will then remove any convictions from the list which cannot be compared to criminal history reports due to insufficient identification validation.  Additionally, the Bureau is required to remove convictions from the list if the defendant has any intervening convictions during the “waiting period” from the final disposition of the conviction record until the record is eligible to be automatically sealed for each level of offense.

3. Validated and eligible conviction records move onto each district attorney, who may object to sealing the conviction record if the defendant has a pending criminal charge or intervening conviction.

4. The state court administrator then would remove conviction records objected to by the district attorney and compile a revised list of conviction records eligible for automatic sealing. The final list would then be sent to the chief judge for each judicial district.

5. The courts of each judicial district then would enter sealing orders for the listed conviction records within 14 days of receiving the final list.

Other Implications of Bill

Among other implications, the bill would amend the Colorado Consumer Reporting Act. If passed, among additional proposed amendments:

  • “A user of any consumer report or investigative consumer report shall disclose or provide a copy of the report, including the name and contact information of the consumer reporting agency, to the consumer to whom it relates if adverse action has been taken or is being contemplated based, in whole or in part, on the report.”
  • “Consumer reporting agencies are prohibited from reporting records of charges or indictments pending trial, sealed records, expunged records, and records that did not result in conviction.”

Please see the bill for full details of proposed exceptions and procedures of automatically sealing records.

If passed, the Colorado law could impact what criminal records will be reportable in Colorado. Verified Credentials will continue to watch legislative proceedings regarding Colorado SB22-099. Keep an eye out for updates in the coming months.

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