Nearly everyone knows that having a criminal record can create a wide variety of future challenges. Not only must these individuals live with the stigma of their past convictions, but their records can make it more difficult to find a job, obtain a loan or even sign a lease for a place to live.
What many people do not know, however, is that many offenses committed by juveniles are automatically expunged from their record. After all, why should they have to suffer for the rest of their lives simply because they made mistakes when they were young?
How does it work?
Under previous law, a juvenile could petition for an expungement, but only after the applicable waiting period had passed, which was typically one to five years. But now Colorado law states that courts are required to automatically expunge a juvenile’s record in certain situations, including when:
- The juvenile was found not guilty at trial.
- The juvenile’s case was dismissed.
- The juvenile has completed their sentence for a petty offense, drug petty offense, a class 2 or class 3 misdemeanor, or a level 1 or level 2 drug misdemeanor that is not a sex offense, does not involve domestic abuse or is not an offense that requires victim notification.
Once their juvenile records have been expunged, the law says that these individuals are free to assert that they have no juvenile records whatsoever, and they can lawfully deny that they have ever been arrested, charged, convicted or sentenced in regard to any of the expunged matters.
In addition, juveniles must be provided with written notice of their expungement rights, not to mention that a prosecuting attorney cannot require a juvenile to waive their right to expungement as a condition of a plea agreement.
While automatic juvenile expungements certainly do not apply to every juvenile offense, it nevertheless is an important first step for helping people move on with their lives following youthful mistakes.