June 14, 2024

In 2022, Colorado passed the Clean Slate Act, which would automatically seal criminal records for qualified individuals under Senate Bill 22-099 (SB 22-099). However, the Act automatically seals low-level convictions only. Generally, these convictions do not involve a victim. As such, serious felonies will not qualify under SB 22-099. Other exempt charges include certain sex offenses, child abuse, driving under the influence, and felony abuse.

Comments on the Bill

Those with qualified records must understand that SB 22-099 does not expunge the information; it only seals it. According to Abbey Moffitt, a criminal defense attorney and one of the founders of Expunge Colorado, “That’s something that people can get misconstrued. Expungement would be if they totally wiped your record. But with sealing, the government can still see your record, so government agencies can see it.” She also explained, “If you seal a record in Colorado, it means that it no longer appears on public record background searches. So if employers or landlords are pulling a background check, they’re not going to see it anymore.”

According to SB 22-099, “An order sealing arrest or other criminal records does not deny access to the criminal records of a petitioner or defendant by any court, law enforcement agency, criminal justice agency, prosecuting attorney, or party, or governmental agency required by law statute or rules or regulations to conduct a criminal history record check on an individual.”

Furthermore, SB 22-099 requires individuals to wait for a specific time frame before their records become eligible for sealing. The bill included examples of when a conviction becomes eligible for automatic sealing. One example described “[when] the conviction is for a petty offense or misdemeanor, that at least seven years have passed since the final disposition of the case.” Another described “[when] the conviction is for an eligible felony, that at least ten years have passed since the date of the final disposition of all criminal proceedings against the defendant or the release of the defendant from supervision concerning a criminal conviction, whichever is later.”

Before the Bill

Before SB 22-099, individuals had to petition the courts to seal their records. Few people used this process because it proved complicated and required a lawyer. Due to the automatic sealing, this process will remain available and benefit from a shorter waiting period.

SB 22-099 could automatically seal over 100,000 convictions. However, several Colorado district attorneys objected to sealing nearly 5% of the eligible records. One of the organizations that helped shape the bill explained how district attorneys “had the opportunity to review eligible records so that [courts] could continue to make sure that public safety was addressed.”


Information provided here is for educational and informational purposes only and should not constitute as legal advice. We recommend you contact your own legal counsel for any questions regarding your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.