Turn over a new leaf

As a part of Mayor Michael Hancock's mission to promote equity in Denver, Mayor Hancock, the Department of Excise and Licenses, the Denver City Attorney’s Office, and the Denver District Attorney’s Office created the “Turn Over a New Leaf” program to mitigate the negative effects of low-level marijuana convictions obtained before legalization. Through this program, individuals can request to have certain low-level marijuana convictions vacated, dismissed, and sealed.   

Application process

Step 1.Submit an application

Low-level marijuana offenses committed in Denver that were based on conduct that is now legal are eligible to be sealed. Fill out the online application so city attorneys can determine if you are eligible.  

Step 2.Screening

A special team of city attorneys and district attorneys will review your application for eligible convictions. 

Step 3.Notification of eligibility

  • Once the team has finished the screening, you will be notified of the results. If you are eligible, you will receive a written motion to sign and return. 
  • If you are ineligible, you will be notified that you do not qualify. You can consult with a private attorney for further guidance. 
  • In some instances, a screening attorney might need more information. If this is the case, you will be contacted. 

Step 4.Motion

  • If eligible, you will be provided a copy of the motion to vacate your conviction(s). 
  • You must sign and return this motion to have your conviction considered for sealing. 

Step 5.Court process

  • A district attorney or a city attorney will file your signed motion with the Denver County Court within one to two business days. A judge from the Denver County Court or Denver District Court will rule on the motion without a hearing. You will not need to appear in court. 
  • The processing fee of $65 will be waived or covered by the program. 

Step 6.Notification of ruling

  • The court will notify you of the ruling. If your motion is granted, the court will dismiss the charge, vacate the conviction, and order the record to be sealed. 
  • If the motion is not granted, you will be notified by the court. You might want to seek further guidance from a private attorney. 

Step 7.Record sealing

  • If the motion is granted, the court will send the order to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. If the case appears in the criminal justice records, CBI will seal any records related to that conviction. You do not have to pay the CBI fee of $28 to seal the record. 
  • If the case does not appear in the CBI criminal justice records, the sealing process is complete, unless the records are in the custody of any other custodian.
  • You can also provide the court order to any other custodian of your criminal justice records, and the custodian must remove the records that are subject to the order. Additional fees could apply.

Questions & answers

  • Can I have my record cleared if I live outside Denver?

Yes, but the offense you are seeking to clear must have been committed in Denver. We can’t clear low-level marijuana crimes off your record that took place outside of Denver.

  • What if I was originally arrested for possession of marijuana but ultimately pled guilty to a lesser charge, can I have the lesser charge vacated and sealed?

Yes, as long as the original conduct is currently legal.

  • Do people have to attend a clinic to have their records sealed?

No. We have hosted clinics to help people clear their records, but you can apply online. See the application instructions.

  • What identification do I need to provide?

A government-issued photo identification, such as a driver's license, state-issued ID card, or U.S. passport.

  • Why do people need to pre-apply?

The pre-application phase is not mandatory, but it can help expedite the process.

  • Do I need an attorney?

No. A city attorney or district attorney will assist you through the process.

  • How long will the process take?

Once the applicant’s offense is deemed eligible for sealing, an attorney will file the motion within one to two business days. After that, it is up to the judge to decide. We anticipate most cases will be decided within a few weeks.

  • What is considered a low-level offense?

Any marijuana offense that was based on conduct now legal under current law, including possession of less than 2 ounces. Offenses involving hemp, marijuana paraphernalia, and marijuana products could also be eligible.

  • Are there any associated costs or fees?

Most applicants should not incur any costs. There is a $65 court filing fee. In some cases, there could be a $28 fee by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. The applicant can request the court filing fees be waived. While funding is available, the Turn Over a New Leaf program and the Marijuana Industry Group, a TONL program sponsor, will cover the court filing fees that cannot be waived and the fees for the cases with the CBI fee.

  • Are the Spanish language resources available?

Spanish language application is available. 

  • Is there a deadline for low-level marijuana crimes to be expunged?

There is no deadline to apply.

  • Why can't Denver vacate convictions in previous cases en masse, as some other states have done?

Other states have legislation that permits that action. Colorado's state legislature has yet to enact such a statute.

  • What about convictions before 2001?

The date range is 2001 to present because that is how far back the court's computer system goes. If you have a case before 2001, fill out the application and we will do our best to assist.

  • What if I have concerns about how this will impact my immigration status?

People with immigration concerns are encouraged to apply.

  • Who will be the primary beneficiaries of this program?

Past convictions can interfere with a person’s job prospects. Wiping out these offenses will benefit those individuals.

  • What happens after a person's conviction is vacated, dismissed, and sealed?

By statute, that person is not required to disclose any information about that sealed conviction. That person can say he or she "has not been criminally convicted". § 24-72-703(4)(d)(I), C.R.S. (2018).

  • Where can people send questions not answered here?

Questions can be emailed to NewLeaf@denvergov.org.