Sean Brown: DA should assist with sealing minor marijuana convictions |

Sean Brown: DA should assist with sealing minor marijuana convictions

Recently, Steamboat Pilot & Today reported 14th Judicial District Attorney Brett Barkey, who represents Routt, Moffat, and Grand counties, has no plans to wipe clean criminal records of minor marijuana-related convictions despite other Colorado jurisdictions doing so. Barkey stated existing law provides for those convicted to seal their convictions on their own.

Yes, existing law provides for those previously convicted to seal misdemeanor marijuana conviction records, but the district attorney could assist and make the process far more simple for those in the 14th Judicial District.

For example, The Boulder Daily Camera reports Boulder’s district attorney is moving to dismiss and seal such convictions. Boulder’s district attorney plans clinics to review cases for dismissal and sealing. Plus, plans are in the works for a website to have convictions reviewed for dismissal and sealing. Barkey has announced no such plans for the 14th Judicial District.

A 2017 law provides those convicted of a misdemeanor offense for the use or possession of marijuana may petition the court to seal their criminal records if their offense would not have been a crime if committed on or after Dec. 10, 2012.

To have a petition considered, court filing fees and additional required fees must be paid. Should a person be unable to pay the filing fee, a motion to file without payment and a supporting financial affidavit may be submitted to the court. Afterwards, should the court rule that a person is financially able to pay, the court will not consider a petition until fees are paid in full.

The petitioner must establish by a preponderance of the evidence the offense would not have been a crime on or after Dec. 10, 2012. Should the person be unable to establish this evidence, the court will not seal their criminal record.

Should the court seal the record, copies of the court’s order must be sent to the Colorado Bureau of Investigations and each custodian of conviction records and pay CBI’s record sealing fee. After the criminal records are sealed, an additional request may be made to seal the civil case in which the conviction records were sealed.

Much expense, confusion and time could be spared if District Attorney Barkey, like Boulder’s district attorney, helped those in the 14th Judicial District dismiss and seal their past low-level misdemeanor marijuana convictions. Until then, instructions and necessary forms to file a petition are on the Colorado Judicial Branch website.

Sean Brown

Attorney at Combs & Brown, LLC

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