As you know, a criminal record may stay with you long after you've served your time. These barriers are called collateral consequences of a conviction. The Colorado State Public Defender’s Office provides accurate information about legal barriers in a guide called The Consequences of Conviction: Sanctions Beyond the Sentence Under Colorado Law. Click the button below to download the guide.
Colorado Judicial Department Self-Help Centers
Every courthouse in Colorado has a self-help center where you can get help with forms and understanding the legal process for civil legal matters. They call this self-represented litigant assistance. They can’t give you legal advice, but they can help you understand the process and tell you where you might get free or low-cost help. Click on the button below for locations and hours of every self-help center.
Colorado Legal Services
Colorado Legal Services (CLS) has offices throughout Colorado. They help with many types of civil legal issues such as family law, consumer law, immigration, problems with federal programs like Medicaid, problems getting identification documents, and more.
Not every office can help with everything you may need because there is so much demand. If they can’t help you, they may be able to refer you to another place for help.
When you call an office, you will be asked questions about your income, assets, and your legal problem. You will not have to pay if you are low income. CLS will not talk about your case with anyone who doesn’t work for CLS unless you give them permission. Please note that CLS offices cannot help with criminal matters or traffic court.
Click below to find a Colorado Legal Services Office.
Northwest Colorado Legal Services Free Record Sealing and Expungement Clinic
If you have a criminal record in Clear Creek, Delta, Eagle, Grand, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Lake, Moffat, Montrose, Ouray, Routt, San Miguel, or Summit County and you are low income, call 800-521-6968 to see whether your case qualifies. Clinics are held throughout the year and are free. See the section on Sealing Your Record below to learn more about cases that may qualify for record sealing and expungement. If you live in Pueblo County, you can also get help. Call 719-545-6708 to get started.
The Denver Bar Association publishes many different brochures with advice about legal matters. Click on the button below to see their list.
The Denver Bar Association also publishes a calendar of free legal clinics. Click below to see the calendar.
Colorado has over 75 problem solving courts, which are an alternative to the regular courtroom. They include drug court for adults or juveniles, mental health courts, family/dependency and neglect courts, prostitution courts, veterans court, and DWI courts. The courts are for people who have underlying issues behind a criminal charge, such as substance use disorders and mental illness.
In order to qualify for a problem-solving court such as drug court, you must want help, be willing to go into drug and alcohol treatment, and have no other resources. You must be willing to work with daily supervision from a case worker. You must also plead guilty and undergo probation supervision.
A problem solving court may help you resolve your case faster (matter of days rather than months), you may get faster access to treatment, and you may avoid a prison sentence. Another benefit is the judge, DA, public defender, and treatment providers tend to work together as a team. The atmosphere is less adversarial from what you may have experienced in court. The Denver Post article below will give you an idea of what this looks like.
To learn more about problem-solving courts on the state’s judicial website, click the button below.
To read a recent Denver Post article about recovery court for people in Denver County Jail, click the button below.
Sealing a Record
Some cases on a criminal history record may be sealed in Colorado. These include arrests not resulting in any charges, dismissed cases, and cases in which the defendant was acquitted. Some drug convictions may also be sealed. If you successfully completed a diversion agreement or a deferred judgment and sentence, this record may be eligible for sealing. In addition, some petty or municipal convictions may also be sealed.
Watch the Video to Learn More
The process is complicated. To get started in understanding the process, you may want to watch this brief video done by Colorado Legal Services.
Colorado Courts Website Has Info and Forms
To learn more, the Colorado Judicial branch website has information on the process and forms. Click on the button below to learn about the record sealing categories. Click on the category that pertains to you. Then click on the plus sign beside each statement/question to learn more. Read this carefully. You’ll want to make sure that you understand the statutes and the process. You will be walked through the forms and process on how to petition the District Court in the county where the arrest and/or criminal records are filed.
Get Help at Free Legal Clinics
If you want help from a lawyer and can’t afford to hire one, the Colorado Criminal Defense Institute (CCDI) and Colorado State Public Defender sponsor free legal clinics. A lawyer will help you determine whether you’re eligible to seal a criminal record or expunge a juvenile record. Watch the News post on remerg.com for dates, times, and locations. You can also click on the button below for the CCDI website page on the clinics. Then click on Free Legal Clinics in bright yellow for the 2016-17 legal clinic calendar.
To read a recent Denver Post article on the free legal clinics and learn more, click on the button below.
Some Colorado Legal Services (CLS) offices in western Colorado also offer help with record sealing or referrals to other help. Go to the top of this page for info about CLS offices and locations. Call for information.