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New Colorado Law automatically seals non-violent criminal records

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- A new Colorado law, tabbed the Clean Slate Act, will automatically seal non-violent criminal records without needing an order from a judge.

Colorado Senator Dennis Hisey of El Paso County says Senate Bill 22-099 was a collaborative effort from the business community and the judicial community.

"We have a labor shortage, I think that's what brought the business community on board," Sen. Hisey said.

Hisey said the new law will open new doors for employment opportunities for people with a criminal record, which may have previously been a barrier for many job opportunities.

"Once someone has had their records sealed, within 12 months, they are making 25% more in wages," Sen. Hisey said. "That brings stability to the family, they have access to better housing." 

The Clean Slate Act means that a petty offense will be automatically sealed four years after the charge, seven years for a misdemeanor offense, and ten years for a felony offense.

"We have over a million people in Colorado right now that are eligible for having their records sealed, but they have to petition the courts and that is a process that absolutely takes an attorney, so it's pretty expensive," Sen. Hisey said.

For Estevan Medina, the founder of Second Chance Through Faith Ministries, the law offers people he works with more than a second chance -- it frees them from having a record hang over their heads.

"Every time you try to go do something, you get shot down. So, instead of getting shot down, this is going to open that door and say, 'you know what, I have done this, but that's no longer who I am and I can move forward with my life,'" Medina said.

When it comes to employment opportunities, Medina said it is the key to finding an outlet for anyone who wants to turn their life around.

"When you are holding on to your past and you have to put that on the paper and you have to explain it and you might not get the job, what does that do? It discourages people," Medina said. "There's a freedom from that that you no longer have to hold on to. The possibilities are endless."

Each District Attorney in Colorado can submit an objection to sealing any person's records within 45 days after the record is sealed. Also, any subsequent offense will start the clock over for eligibility for sealing records.

Hisey told KRDO that petty offenses and misdemeanor offenses will likely be sealed first, followed by non-violent felonies. He said the hope is to have all eligible petty offenses and misdemeanors sealed by 2024.

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Sean Rice

Sean is a reporter based out of Pueblo for KRDO. Learn more about him here.

Comments

21 Comments

  1. And yet another law that benefits those who break the law. And we can’t understand why crime is skyrocketing.

    1. Agreed. If a job absolutely requires a clean record, there’s probably a reason for it. And a sealed criminal record is NOT the same as a CLEAN record, so prospective employers are being fooled into hiring known criminals. The result will be that the integrity of all Colorado businesses will now be at risk when it comes to doing business nationwide.
      .
      But since this is new, it doesn’t account for the increase in crime up to now, which is an international crisis, and has little to do with the local government. It can be partly blamed on Covid based on historically similar crises.

      1. My job is such that I am able to see things that most people can’t. I once saw an individual who is currently working at an elementary school, but has “sealed” se x offenses on his record, one of which had been a conviction. But since they are sealed, I’m not allowed to tell anyone. That’s just wrong.
        .
        If you don’t want to have to deal with a criminal record, there is an alternative. Don’t break the law!!!

        1. A juvenile record? Anyone working in a school has to get fingerprinted and run through CBI, so I as sume the record being sealed would not normally apply there. It’s sealed, not expunged. But maybe a juvenile record doesn’t “count”?

          The problem with fingerprinting in schools is that it gives people a false sense of security, someone can be arrested many times for offenses but not convicted and still work at a school, and someone can be just a very good liar and have committed dozens of crimes and still work at a school. You also have situations like Manitou, where a teacher has been accused of as sault on a student and left soon after the acts, moving overseas, then was hired in Woodland Park. He left there soon after hire, also. So you get these suspected predators moved from school to school. Anyway. . . .

    2. people do make mistakes and they should be able to redeem themselves for these types of “crimes”.A lot of them are small possession charges, from being an addict. People can and do change.
      I don’t believe in sealing records of those who are violent or have violent felonies.

  2. “”We have a labor shortage, I think that’s what brought the business community on board,” Sen. Hisey said.”

    That makes no sense. With the labor shortage, businesses are already more likely to hire people with a criminal record. Is the rep saying that businesses want to hire people who have been convicted of crimes but want the government to hide those convictions from them? Or that they want to be able to hire people with a record but not have their customers know they’ve done that? That’s hardly noble.

    The recent situation with the arrests in Woodland Park, that person had several previous arrests but was still working. It is definitely a hurdle and it’s a problem for society, how do you not drive people back into criminal activity who don’t want to be there if you don’t find a way to get them gainful and satifying legal employment? But hiding information is not really much of a long term solution. If my kid is getting her first job in fast food, it’s fair for us to want to know if one of her coworkers was selling meth a year ago. If my mother is being taken care of by a CNA in a nursing home, I want the CNA’s employers to know if she’s been convicted of shoplifting. Knowing doesn’t justify mistreating people for their past record, but it’s kind of a modern American thing now to conflate ignorance with morality.

    1. Then let business hire people with criminal records, where appropriate. At least it would be in the open, with no attempt to hide a person’s past.

      1. They do, don’t they? The pharmacist in Florissant that was on trial, he had several previous convictions. The guy arrested at Tractor Supply, he had several previous arrests. If one in six people in Colorado have a nonviolent criminal record, it seems like there are a lot of people working right now that have convictions. Is there law saying you can’t hire someone with a criminal conviction? I know in some cases there are restrictions — schools, etc. But as far as I know an employer is generally allowed to hire who he wants to hire. Sounds like companies want to hire people at a lower rate because they have a record but they don’t want anyone to find out. That’s not good for anyone.

        1. So are you saying it’s good to hide the fact that someone is a criminal from a prospective employer? If people are hired, and then are arrested again, it tells an employer that they made a mistake. If I was hiring right now, I’d want to know who I had working for me.

          1. No, I wasn’t clear. I’m not believing that this law is trying to help people get a second chance. So whose interests does it serve? I’m thinking that with labor costs high and fewer employees to choose from, we have corporations and companies that are hiring people with a record because it’s cheaper or the only option. But they don’t want their customers getting on Google and finding out who they’ve hired. I am thinking it is the employing corporations that are driving this.

  3. Having to pet ition the courts is a hurdle that filters out those folks who don’t really care about working. If you have to put effort and planning into getting your record sealed, you’re more likely to be a person who wants to put his criminal past behind him. If the process is unreasonable or expensive and so filters out the poor or uneducated, also, the fix that — make it reasonable and free. But saying people don’t even have to request to have the records sealed?

      1. Thank you. So the rep here is just being disengenuous. I wonder about his “one million” statistic, also. One in six people in Colorado has a nonviolent criminal conviction? That seems high. I’d believe there were a million crimes, not criminals — some people co mmit more than one crime at a time.

        1. Sen. Hisey sponsored The Clean Slate Act, so his numbers are likely accurate. It seems reasonable that over a million Coloradans are eligible to have their criminal records sealed. Consider how many adults have an underage drinking charge they haven’t thought about in the last 30 years. There are a lot of non-violent crimes that don’t go away unless you go through the whole process.

    1. Well said. I agree with you. Those who make the effort are the serious ones.

    2. Indigency will only waive the filing fee, which is $235. The process and access to records require an attorney in most cases. Attorney fees aren’t waived by indigence. I believe staying off of paper for 7 – 10 years is another good indication of someone putting their criminal past behind them.

  4. Any subsequent offenses starts the clock over!!!!!!!!WHAT!! Doesn’t any subsequent offenses prove it wasn’t “a mistake”. Bad idea all around but this provision makes it just plain dee u eem

    1. And if the records are sealed, how will they know if an offense is a subsequent one or a new one? Sounds like someone isn’t telling the whole story about this.

      1. The “sealed” record is still in the courts’ database. It is just listed as having been sealed.
        Prosecutors and others have access to those files and can see they are there. The public can’t.

  5. I hire people with records. They just can’t work on some projects and they are not allowed to perform certain tasks until they prove themselves.
    The labor shortage has nothing to do with a lack of people without a record. It has to do with lazy people who do not want to work. I have several past employees who are just sitting at home and will not come back to work or work else where because through covid they found a different way to live and still get paid. They rely upon the govt now and will occasionally do side work for people being paid under the table. Some have asked if I would do the same for them and I absolutely will not. I am a man of principle and even as much as I do not like paying taxes…..if I have to then so should everyone else.

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