The inaugural free legal clinic of 17 has been held today in Denver, more dates and locations at available by following the link at the foot of this page. These free clinics specifically to assist individuals in an effort to sealing criminal records. The clinics are to be held over the next 8 months state wide and offer those attending the opportunity to view their criminal records. If the individual qualifies to have criminal records sealed then they will be paired to a private attorney from a bank of around 50 who have all volunteered their time to process requests free and gratis as confirmed by the Colorado Criminal Defense Institute.
The institute explains they have expanded individuals rights to sealing of criminal records but have not introduced them to methods of circumventing the system. At this moment in time non violent low level felonies and drug convictions (misdemeanor) may be eligible for sealing. Any criminal records involving charges dismissed or acquitted and/or arrests where no charges followed can be sealed. However law enforcement will still retain access to records that have been sealed, the only criminal records with eligibility for erasure are juveniles. A district attorney agrees to sealing while a judge has the final decision. Erasing criminal records is a way back in to housing and employment which are also shown to reduce recidivism.
The initiative will hopefully put people back in control and have fulfilling lives. Those attempting to re enter society and being rejected for employment and housing due to criminal records is extremely disheartening. The clinics will hopefully navigate individuals through a system that, to date, continues to be complex and expensive. Dependent on charges those with criminal convictions must wait from 1 to 20 years following completion of their sentence before a request for sealing can be made. An individual must retain a clean record for that period. The clinics are also offering their services to those eligible for removal from the registry of sex offenders. However these convictions can’t be sealed. The program is being subsidized with a federal grant. Dates and times of further clinics are available by following this link.
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