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Colorado Arrest Records
In Colorado, arrest records are criminal justice records that bear information about people who have been arrested and questioned or charged by the police for criminal conduct. Typically, a Colorado arrest record will provide information about the suspect and the alleged offense as well as the law enforcement agency that performed the arrest. However, arrest records are not to be used as an alternative to Colorado criminal records.
Law enforcement agencies (usually the arresting police department or county sheriff's office) create and maintain arrest records within the state. Such records are considered public information under the state's Open Records Act (C.R.S. 24-72-101, et seq.). Hence, anyone can retrieve an arrest record from its custodian unless the record is sealed by court order or law, or essential to an investigation.
Colorado Arrest Statistics
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI), a division of the Department of Public Safety, is charged with publishing annual statewide crime data, which members of the public can access via the agency's website. This data is gathered from over 240 law enforcement agencies within the state.
In 2019, 195,870 people were arrested, summoned, and cited for criminal offenses in Colorado. Of this number, 178,985 were adults and 16,885 juveniles. Compared to the previous year, this represented a slight increase (approximately 1.4%) in arrests occurring in the state.
From law enforcement reports submitted in 2018, Colorado recorded 193,216 arrests (175,310 were adults and 17,906 juveniles). Also, in that year, the violent crime arrest rate was 176 per 100,000 residents, while the property crime rate was 525 per 100,000 people. The offense that accounted for the most violent crime arrests was aggravated assault. For property crimes, theft and larceny had the higher frequency of arrests. Furthermore, 71% of the arrestees were males, and the average age of apprehended adults was 35.
What is an Arrest Record in Colorado?
Section 24-72-302 of the Colorado Revised Statutes defines an arrest record as information reporting the apprehension of a person. This record is typically generated upon one's arrest, and it provides details about a suspect and their alleged criminal offense. An arrest record is usually kept by the criminal justice agency that carried out the arrest.
What is Contained in an Arrest Record?
The following data can be found in a Colorado arrest record:
- The accused's personal information: full name (plus aliases), date of birth, contact information, last-known address, and social security number
- The accused's identifying information: height, weight, eye/hair color, fingerprints, photograph, race, gender, scars/tattoos/marks
- The criminal charges brought against the accused individual
- The classification of the crime
- The time, date, and location of the arrest
- The arresting officer and agency
- A description of the event that led to the arrest
- Bail amount
Are Arrest Records Public in Colorado?
Yes. Arrest records are open to the public in Colorado and released per the Criminal Justice Records Act (C.R.S 24-72-301, et seq) established under the Open Records Act. This means any curious individual can query the law enforcement agency that made an arrest to obtain records. The agency will usually grant this request unless the record inspection is contrary to law or is prohibited by court order.
To retrieve an arrest record, one must usually submit a written request and pay a small fee for research, redaction (as some parts of a record may be confidential), and copying.
Who Can Access Arrest Records?
Arrest records offer insight into a state's criminal justice system and information about an individual's criminal acts. As such, these records are often of interest to members of the public, including employers, local/state licensing agencies, insurance companies, friends and family, and other entities. Because of public interest, most US states establish laws that authorize and guide the dissemination of arrest records, and Colorado is no exception.
However, while the public can review many arrest records, some records/information are not releasable under the Open Records Act. Even if released, certain portions may be redacted. This may be because the record is sealed or confidential by court order, or its release is contrary to public interest.
Other grounds upon which a record request may be denied is if the inspection would oppose any state statute or jeopardize a police investigation.
How Do I Lookup Someone's Arrest Records in Colorado?
Most Colorado sheriff offices and police departments publish procedures for looking up arrest records in their custody on their websites. The retrieval method and fees of one department vary from the next. As such, it is a good idea to peruse the appropriate web page or contact the relevant office before submitting any request.
Typically, the agency with the record will provide a printable request form on its online site or hard copy at its physical location. Several offices also provide a URL to submit remote requests via an electronic form. Regardless of the form used, individuals must often fill in the following information:
- The applicant's full name, current address, contact information, and signature.
- Name or description of the record. This includes:
- A case number, if known
- The subject's date of birth, full name, and gender
- The time/date or location of the arrest
- Type of record requested
- Type of incident
- Victim's name
- Any other information that can expedite the processing time of a request
- The department/office where the record is maintained
The requester must also include payment (perhaps attach a copy of their government-issued ID) and choose their preferred delivery method. If the request form cannot be submitted online, the agency can usually receive it by mail, email, fax, or hand delivery.
A simpler method to find an arrest record in Colorado is to check the arresting law enforcement agency's site for a database of arrested persons. For example, using the City of Colorado Springs Police Department's Police Blotter page, an individual can retrieve the time, date, and location of an incident, summary of the incident, name of the arrested person(s), the alleged crime, and the police department contact and number. However, the internet record retrieval method often produces incomplete or limited arrest information.
Furthermore, it is possible to look up an arrest record by obtaining one's criminal history record from the internet site provided by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. There is a $5 fee per search. Note that:
- The records provided by the CBI are based upon fingerprints, not by name. If the subject of a record was not fingerprinted at the time of arrest, it is unlikely that the record will be with the CBI. As such, one may need to contact the local law enforcement agency with the record;
- Records of juvenile arrests, traffic arrests of persons under 16, and arrests sealed by the court are not provided to the public; and
- The CBI assesses a fee for the service.
For more information on acquiring arrest records this way, one can contact the CBI via the available channels.
How to Subpoena Arrest Records in Colorado
A subpoena is a document issued by a court commanding someone to:
- Appear in court and give testimony; or
- Produce and allow the inspection and copying of certain documents, papers, books, records, photographs, electronically stored information, or other tangible materials in the person's possession, custody, or control.
The need to subpoena an arrest record may arise in a criminal or civil proceeding when a party requires a record ("documentary evidence") that is not releasable under the Open Records Act.
Separate procedural rules govern the issuance and service of subpoenas in Colorado:
- The Colorado Rules of Criminal Procedure Rule 17 (for criminal subpoenas in the state courts, i.e., courts other than the Municipal Courts);
- The Colorado Municipal Court Rules of Procedure Rule 217 (for criminal subpoenas in the Municipal Courts); and
- The Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 45 (for civil subpoenas).
Regardless, the overall requirements are somewhat similar. For instance, an individual or their attorney must request a subpoena from the court. This can be done by filing a motion for the court to issue a subpoena or obtaining a blank form that carries the signature and seal of the appropriate authority (usually the clerk).
The courts provide hard copy forms for subpoena requests and motions. Still, others like the City of Colorado Springs Municipal Court provide a subpoena request form that can be submitted online. The state judiciary also offers forms and instructions for obtaining subpoenas on its website.
Every subpoena will state the name of the court, the title of the action, and a command for the subpoenaed custodian to produce the designated record at a specific date and place. After the subpoena is issued, it may be personally served on the applicable custodian within a reasonable time. The law permits this subpoena to be served no later than 14 days before compliance is expected. (Note that for criminal subpoenas issued by the state courts, a copy must be furnished to the opposing side or their counsel once the subpoena is issued.)
A sheriff, process server, or anyone over 18 who is not a party to the action can perform the service of the subpoena. It is crucial to inform the server to complete and sign the Affidavit of Service section of the subpoena and return the completed copy once the service is completed. This document will be required at the hearing.
Note, however, that regulations frequently change, and cases differ. Hence, individuals interested in subpoenaing arrest records in Colorado are advised to seek legal advice from experienced lawyers or read current laws before taking action.
How to Search for an Inmate in the Colorado Prison System
The Colorado Department of Corrections runs the state's prison system. Hence, the public can find information about present inmates through the agency. The department provides a web-based Offender Search tool to assist with locating such inmates. One only has to enter some or all of the following on the site:
- DOC Number
- Last name (no hyphenations)
- First name
Below is the inmate information that can be obtained:
- Name (first and last)
- DOC Number
- Distinguishing features (height, weight, hair color, and eye color)
- Current facility assignment
- Estimated parole eligibility date
- Next parole hearing date
- Estimated mandatory release date
- Estimated sentence
- Current convictions (sentence, sentence date, county, and case number)
Alternatively, inmate search or lookup tools provided by most local law enforcement agencies (the county sheriffs) are useful in locating people currently confined in county jails and detention centers. An individual can typically use search keywords such as a person's name, booking number/date, or inmate ID number to secure results. Like the DOC's offender search tool, county inmate locators may provide:
- Personal details: the inmate's full name, race, age, sex, hair color, eye color, height, and weight.
- Case details: the booking date, number, and facility, as well as the case number, the offense's statutory code, offense type, and arresting agency.
- Court information: the case/docket number, court date/time, bond/bail amount, and the holding agency (the agency that the inmate is being held for).
Some inmate databases also offer a means to register for notifications on a particular inmate. Usually, the sheriffs that provide this service update their databases frequently.
How Do I Find Out if Someone Was in Jail in Colorado
To find out if someone has ever been arrested or imprisoned in Colorado, an individual can contact the law enforcement agency in that person’s county of residence (if the subject of the search is a resident). If the agency is the sheriff's office, inquiries could be made to the records unit or another designated department. The contact information of such units can usually be found on the applicable sheriff's website.
Another option is to obtain the person’s Colorado criminal history record or conduct a background check to look for conviction information.
How Long Do Colorado Arrest Records Stay on File?
Arrest records are retained on file indefinitely in Colorado. However, while the state does not authorize the destruction of these records, a party can ask a court to seal their arrest record if eligible under the law. This does not remove the record from its official file, but it will limit the public's access to it and possibly any further repercussions originating due to the record's existence.
What is the Difference Between an Arrest Record and an Arrest Warrant?
An arrest record and an arrest warrant are legal documents used for different criminal justice purposes. The former is a law enforcement document containing information about a person's arrest and alleged crime, which can be used at a criminal trial. Meanwhile, the latter is a court order that directs law enforcement to immediately seize any person named in the warrant and take them to court. The warrant may specify the interval within which the arrest may be executed and the bail amount one must post to regain freedom.
Unlike an arrest record that does not require a detailed process to generate, an arrest warrant requires the demonstration of probable cause by the requesting officer and the signature of a judge or magistrate to be issued. (Probable cause means that the officer has reason to think that the named party committed a crime.)
In summary, an arrest record cannot be created until after a person has been arrested. This arrest can occur with a warrant (for most non-felony crimes) or without one (for felony crimes or crimes that occurred within the sight or hearing of a peace officer).
What is the Difference Between an Arrest Record and a Criminal Record?
An arrest record is a compilation of all instances where the police apprehended an individual for a criminal act. It typically does not carry information about the outcome of the case, i.e., whether an individual was convicted or not.
However, unlike an arrest record, a criminal record is a more accurate representation of a person's criminal past. Hence, it usually bears information about an individual's arrests, convictions, sentences, parole violations, and more.
How to Obtain Arrest Records for Free in Colorado?
More often than not, individuals have to pay money to obtain arrest records from law enforcement agencies in Colorado. Yet, some arrest information is available for free on the websites of those agencies. Retrieving this information online is as simple as entering the subject of the record's first or last name into an embedded arrest records search tool on a county sheriff's website. Then, one will be able to see an arrestee's full name, date of birth, date and time of arrest, bail amount, gender, arresting agency, booking number, and charge(s).
How to Search for a Colorado Arrest Record Online Using a Third-Party Search Service
Third-party search services (or internet background check services) offer a means for members of the public to search for Colorado arrest records via independent databases. An individual may need such services when attempting to obtain a record quickly, without visiting the arresting agency's office or waiting days or weeks for a record request to be processed.
Any third-party search service will provide a search box on its established site to find arrest records. Often, one must fill in the subject of the record's first name, last name, and state to start a search. Some personal information may be viewable for free in the search results. However, the researcher must pay a fee or subscribe to a monthly plan to obtain the full arrest report.
It should be noted that while some search sites boast comprehensive and accurate records, it may be necessary to crosscheck whatever is obtained against the official record.
What Can I Do if My Arrest Record Has a Mistake?
Sometimes, arrested individuals may find that their arrest records contain a mistake. When this happens, the individual can dispute the arrest record at the arresting agency's physical location. On the other hand, if it concerns an arrest record within a criminal history record maintained by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Then, the individual can challenge the record and request its correction by calling the Identification Unit (303) 239-4208.
Note that by correcting the arrest record with an arresting enforcement agency, the agency will still send the updated record to the CBI.
How to Expunge Arrest Records in Colorado
An arrest record does not represent a guilty conviction. Yet, the reality is that employers, landlords, neighbors, loved ones, or other parties may treat the record as one. As such, subjects of records often look for ways to hide their records from the public or destroy them. This is where the expungement or sealing process comes in.
An expungement usually refers to the physical destruction of records, while sealing refers to the concealment of records from public inspection. However, in some jurisdictions, expunging a record does not mean the record will be destroyed, only that it has been moved from public to restricted access. Hence, one can say that an expungement in those states is like sealing a record.
In Colorado, arrest records can be sealed or expunged based on the arrest or case circumstances. Neither process destroys a record. However, when either is executed, the subject can generally state that they have never been arrested. The authority to seal or expunge an arrest record in the state is given by C.R.S 24-72-701, et seq.
Per C.R.S 24-72-701.5, an individual can expunge their arrest record in the case of mistaken identity and where no charges were filed. However, one must ensure that within 90 days of the arrest, the arresting law enforcement agency files a petition with the district court for the county of arrest. The court will expunge the record within 90 days of filing the petition.
On the other hand, per C.R.S 24-72-704, an individual is eligible to petition the district court with jurisdiction over their arrest to seal an arrest record if:
- The party completed a diversion agreement per C.R.S. § 18-1.3-101, and no charges were filed.
- No charges were filed, and the statute of limitations for an offense that has the longest statute of limitations in the individual's arrest record has run.
- No charges were filed, and the statute of limitations has not expired, but the party is no longer being investigated for the crime.
The forms to file the petition are listed below and can be obtained from the state judiciary's site (instructions can be found as well):
- Petition to Seal Arrest and Criminal Records When No Charges Filed (Form JDF 417)
- Order to Seal Arrest and Criminal Records When No Charges Filed (Form JDF 418)
- Order and Notice of Hearing (Form JDF 419)
- Order Denying Petition (Form JDF 435)
A $224 filing fee is required to submit a petition to seal an arrest record. Other costs, such as an arrest record search fee or a fee to obtain plain/certified copies, may apply. Persons who cannot afford to pay the filing fee must submit a completed Motion to File Without Payment and Supporting Financial Affidavit (Form JDF 205) to the court.
After filing and paying (or not paying if a waiver is granted), the court will grant or deny the petition to seal an arrest record with or without a hearing. If the court enters an order granting the petition, the petitioner must alert the CBI and other agencies named in the order by sending or hand-delivering a copy of the signed order to them. Otherwise, the record may not be sealed.