August 18, 2019

Colorado Court of Appeals: Statute Unclear About Sealing Records When Traffic and Non-Traffic Offenses Charged Together

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in In re Petition of R.C. on Thursday, May 30, 2013.

Petition to Seal Records—Traffic Offenses—Non-Traffic Offenses.

Petitioner appealed a district court’s order denying his petition to seal records of non-traffic offense charges brought against him that were subsequently dismissed. The Court of Appeals reversed the order and remanded the case with directions.

Petitioner was charged with possession of marijuana (a class 2 petty offense), possession of drug paraphernalia (a class 2 petty offense), and unsafe lane change. After successful completion of a juvenile diversion program, all of the charges were dismissed with prejudice.

Petitioner argued that the court erred when it denied his petition to seal his records after all of the charges against him were dismissed with prejudice. Although CRS § 24-72-308 specifically prohibits the sealing of traffic infractions, the statute does not appear to contemplate petitions to seal records for cases that include both traffic offenses and non-traffic offenses. Therefore, if the district court “finds that the harm to the privacy of the petitioner or dangers of unwarranted adverse consequences to the petitioner outweigh the public interest in retaining the record” as to the drug offenses, it should seal the criminal records as to those charges. Therefore, the order was reversed and the case was remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Summary and full case available here.

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