What is an arrest record?
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was set up by the Colorado Department of Public Safety for the assimilation, maintenance and dissemination of criminal history information to legal and non justice entities as well as private commercial organizations and individuals. The CBI functions as a central repository of crime history information; the system is fed data from all police precincts across the state of Colorado.
The CCH or Computerized Criminal History database maintained by the CBI is a storage facility for a host of criminal information including arrest records based on fingerprint scans collected through various law enforcement agencies in the state. At this time, arrests that are not supported by the inclusion of fingerprint evidence are not included in the system.
Apart from this, the CBI has also been entrusted the responsibility of making relevant changes to the CCH database in terms of warrant information, sealing of records and their expungement along with the management of juvenile criminal data. These records are not disseminated to the public and non government entities. However, individuals can seek details relating to sex offenders and offenses by contacting the local law enforcement agency in their area.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation has entered into an exclusive contract with KTI (KT International), an organization that offers services which enable members of the public as well as private corporations to search the CCH database and retrieve arrest records pertaining to cases that were disposed in the state of Colorado.
The CBI does not offer out of state criminal information to individuals and privately held commercial establishments; this includes any federal crime information against the subject. Apart from this warrant and arrest records for juvenile offenders is also not released by the Bureau.
In order to procure arrest records from the CBI, the applicant has to submit information about the subject of his/her inquiry which includes the first and last name, the date of birth, additional identifiers including race and gender, and if available, the social security number.
Colorado law allows for the sealing of records after a specified period of time. An individual can petition the court requesting the sealing or the expungement of records. If the concerned agencies that were involved in the matter (District Attorney’s Office, Sherriff’s Department and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation) do not raise an objection to the petition, the court grants the request and notifies the interested agencies to seal all records available on the petitioner.
However, sealing the records is not equivalent to expungement and while this may prevent the public from accessing the information, it will still be disseminated to law enforcement agencies from across the state.
Arrests records offered by the CBI include information on warrants, indictments, charges filed, judicial disposition of the matter and details on incarceration facilities along with the release date. At this point, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation only accepts name check inquiries although the information stored in the CCH database is backed by fingerprint records.
What is an arrest warrant?
In Colorado, an active arrest warrant is a judicial decree for the detention of an individual that is issued by the sitting judge of a criminal court on behalf of the state. Under this judicial order, the executing law enforcement agency is authorized to detain the person in question and hold him until such time that he/she is presented before the court for a bail hearing.
All active arrest warrants stay in effect indefinitely and held back in the national crime database as outstanding warrants (pending detention orders) till they are served.
Contrary to popular belief, once an order for arrest is issued in the state of Colorado, whether it is a bench warrant or a directive for detention in a criminal matter, it does not expire. For one, it costs the government nothing to store all pending detention orders in a central FBI repository and the criminal database maintained at the state level. Also, an expiry period on the warrant would just send out the message to offenders to simply “wait it out” after committing the crime for their violations to be forgotten.
In fact, the judiciary looks down upon offenders who have to be actively pursued by law enforcement agencies before they are brought to books. Usually, people with an outstanding warrant in their name, particularly in felony cases are not offered a bail even in offenses that are bailable.
A warrant can be issued by the judicial entities in Colorado for a myriad of reasons which include:
- Failure to appear in court when the judge has ordered you to do so for the purpose of sentencing or to stand trial
- Delay or failure to pay court ordered child support
- Failure to pay fines ordered for traffic violations
- Probable cause of involvement in a crime
- Failure to appear to testify after a subpoena has been issued in your name
- Failure to pay court fines and appear for jury duty
- Non compliance with court orders for community service or probation
In criminal matters, a warrant for arrest can only be issued in response to a sworn affidavit filed by the investigating law enforcement agency. Also, such an arrest order can only be granted by a criminal court in the state of Colorado. The sitting magistrate has to ascertain that probable cause exists to suspect the involvement of the individual in the criminal act.
This is done on the basis of the information provided in the written complaint. If this is found to be inadequate, the magistrate may call in witnesses and the victim for a sworn testimony or accept this over the phone. The resultant official order for detention issued by the judiciary will always be a document handed over to the police in a written or electronic form.
Colorado was one of the first states to implement an amendment to their Criminal Procedure Act which allows for warrant formalities to be completed electronically. So, a warrant and all accompanying documents including the signed affidavit can be transmitted through fax or by electronic transfer with electronic signatures of the issuing magistrate on the document. A formal request for a warrant can also be sent to the court in these forms and the sitting magistrate will act on all such documents as if they were original.
After receipt of the sworn affidavit in an electronic form, the magistrate is responsible for facilitating the filing of the original documents with the court clerk. However, no magistrate can issue a warrant in an original or electronic form without receiving a copy of the sworn affidavit. Once an arrest directive has been issued, local law enforcement agencies have the authority to serve at any time and at any place as long as the warrant is valid on its face.
In order for the arrest order to be deemed valid, it should bear the signature of the magistrate of the issuing court, it must have the date and the name of the county of issuance along with a mention of the crime for which a person in being apprehended.
Apart from this, a warrant should also specify the name and description (race, gender, age) of the individual to be arrested and a clear directive to take this person into custody. Officers are required by law to ascertain that the person who is being served with the warrant is indeed the individual against whom the arrest order was issued.
How to search for an inmate in the Colorado Jail & Prison system?
The Colorado Department of Corrections has in its jurisdiction 28 correctional facilities across the state including women and juvenile detention centers. By the third quarter of 2009, nearly 23,000 inmates were held in these facilities and this number has increased since then.
If you are looking for any information on individuals serving time at any of these correctional centers, you will need to use the inmate locator search engine offered on the website of the Department of Corrections at doc.state.co.us/find-inmate.
With as little as the name of the person you are looking for, you can get all relevant details pertaining to his/her incarceration including the name and the address of the facility that he/she is being held in along with a picture of the prisoner, where available.
After logging on the website of the Colorado Department of Corrections, click on the tab that reads “Finding an Inmate”. This will direct you to a webpage with a form; fill in as much information as you have here including the name of the subject, DOC number if available and date of birth.
The more the information furnished, the narrower will be your search. You also get an option to indicate whether you would like the search results to include a photograph of the offender. Click on “search”; this will bring up the results page with a list of offenders who match the description you have entered.
Who can search for arrest records and warrants in Colorado and how?
Colorado follows the open records system which was inspired by the federal FOIA; in fact, the law that deals with the dissemination of crime history information was enacted a mere three years after the FOIA and bears close resemblance to the Federal Act. Although the Colorado State Open Records Act did undergo significant amendments in the 1970s, yet under the provisions of this law, all records are available to the public unless legally exempted.
The current Colorado Open Records Act is a combination of two laws: the Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act (CCJRA) and the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA). The former applies to the dissemination of crime history related information while the latter deals with the disclosure of all civil records maintained by government agencies in the state of Colorado.
To put it simply, any interested party, including private commercial firms and individuals can make a request to see these records that include all information held by law enforcement agencies in the state, the sheriffs’ departments and the criminal courts.
How to request records under Colorado specific laws, freedom of information?
If the warrant is not in the name of the applicant, he/she can easily approach the local law enforcement agency and request them to run a check on the subject of the investigation. All local justice agencies are required by law to disseminate this information to interested parties when a request in made. However, if a warrant is out in the applicant’s name, he/she runs the risk of immediate arrest.
Approaching the Colorado Bureau of Investigations: The CBI offers two options for arrest records search. The applicant can either used the web based system at cbirecordscheck.com/Index.aspx?CLS=N which costs $6.85 per search or mail in the search request at:
KT International, Inc.
20 Westbrook Street
East Hartford, CT 06108
Manual searches are charged at $13 per viewed result. If records do exist on the subject of your inquiry, these will be offered to you within 3 business days. However, if there are no details available on the person in question, you will also be notified of this. Processing fees can be paid through credit card when using the online search facility or money orders, business or cashier checks and credit cards for mail request.
For commercial establishments that need to run several background and arrest record checks, the CBI offers the facility to sign up for an account. The benefits of setting up an account include the option of submitting batch files (several names for arrest record searches). Also, with an account, applicants get pre-pay as well as credit card payment options and access to a financial summary.