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The state of Colorado is part of the Western United States and is most well-known as the home of the southern Rocky Mountains.  Named after the Colorado River that runs through portions of the state, Colorado was also nicknamed the “Centennial State” because it was granted statehood just 28 days after the centennial of the Declaration of Independence.  With over 5 million Coloradoans residing there, it is the 22nd most populous state and does have a public records law on the books.

Colorado Public Records Laws

The Colorado Public Records Act, also referred to as the Colorado Open Records Act or CORA, was enacted in 1969 and was originally modeled after the Federal Freedom of Information Act.  This is covered under Title 24 – Article 72 – of the Colorado Statute. There were amendments to the Act, however, in 1977 with the state’s Criminal Justice Records Act, which created some distinctions between state law and federal law.

Under the Act, “any person” may gain access to public records that are not copyright protected.  The purpose of the request doesn’t matter, except when it comes to criminal justice records, which cannot be used for commercial purposes.  Records that are covered under the Act include any records from a state agency or government-financed entity, including the executive and legislative branches.  Some court records are covered and some excluded depending on the nature of the record, as determined by the Criminal Justice Records Act.  Other records that are excluded by CORA include:

  • Records excluded by court order
  • Records made confidential by statute
  • Medical records
  • School records
  • Personnel files
  • Trade secrets
  • Library records
  • Sexual harassment claims and investigations
  • Juvenile records

Colorado Criminal Records, Arrest Records and Background Checks

Background checks in the state of Colorado are administered by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI), a division of the Department of Public Safety.   A criminal background check is requested online through the state’s records check page and can be requested by anyone.  Information required is a first and last name and date of birth.  Social security number and other identifiers are optional.   The report will contain a criminal history but will not report warrant information, sealed records, or juvenile information as those are not consideredpublic record.

Colorado Jail and Inmate Records

If you are looking for current information on offenders in the state of Colorado or any help with victim services, you can go through the Colorado Department of Corrections.  The website has its own page for an offender search that you will need to enter in the offender DocNo, or Last Name and First Name.  You will be given a picture of the offender, if available, a physical description, their current location, list of charges, and estimated release date.

Colorado Court Records

Any information about the Colorado courts system can be obtainedthrough their mainadministrator of the courts website.    Access to many trial court case documents is available only on LexisNexis.  However, if you want to obtain copies of the court documents, you will need to visit or contact the court in which the case was filed.

Colorado Vital Records

Vital records in Colorado, such as birth, death, marriage, and divorce certificates are administered by the state Department of Public Health & Environment.   There are several ways to order any of these certificates:

  • Online:  You can order vital records through a partner site called VitalCheck.
  • Mail: You can mail your form request to: Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Vital Records Section,  4300 Cherry Creek Drive South, Denver, CO 80246
  • In Person:  You can make an in-person request to either the address listed above or to the appropriate county vital records office.

How far back the records go and eligibility for making a request depend upon the type of record.

  • Birth Certificates: Birth certificates can be obtained for births taking place from 1910 to present.  Proof of relationship is required, such as a person listed on the birth certificate or a sibling, child, grandchild, or legal representative.
  • Death Certificates:  The state office of vital statistics holds death certificates dating from 1900 to the present.  To request a death certificate, you must submit proof of relationship to the deceased.  Eligible persons are a spouse, grandparent, sibling, child, parent, funeral director, or legal representative.
  • Marriage Certificates:  Marriage certificates are available from the state office of vital statistics for marriages that took place from 1900-1939 and 1975-present.  Verifications for years from 1940-1974 may be available from the appropriate county office.   Proof of relationship is required to obtain these, such as being listed on the certificate or being a parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, legal representative, or insurance company.
  • Divorce Certificates:  The state office of vital statistics holds divorce records for marriage dissolutions from 1851-1939 and 1968-present  (other dates may be available from the appropriate county).  Proof of relationship is required such as being a party listed on the certificate, a parent, step-parent, child, grandparent, sibling, legal representative, or insurance company.

Employment Background Checks in Colorado

Because background checks conducted for employment have different requirements, it’s important to learn a little bit about what’s required. Below you’ll find an introduction to things you need to know about running background checks on potential employees in Colorado:

Employers conduct employment background checks to verify the information supplied by applicants prior to hiring. A thorough background check protects the company’s reputation and provides a safer work environment for all employees. Employers have the responsibility of ensuring the safety of current and future employees and protecting the company’s reputation and well-being. Even though all states must adhere to federal regulations regarding pre-employment screening checks, most states have their own restrictions and requirements. Employers in Colorado recognize the importance of conducting background checks on potential future employees. It should be one of the most important parts of the entire hiring process.

Criminal Background Check Laws in Colorado

Job applicants in Colorado must supply certain information such as date of birth, social security number and address on a job application. The potential employee’s information is researched for criminal court records, terrorist databases, sex offender lists and FBI wanted lists. It is legal in the state of Colorado to obtain information regarding possible criminal acts committed by the applicant. The time limit is seven years. All court records including misdemeanor and felony records are checked.

Professions with Specific Requirements for Background Checks in CO


Criminal background checks must be conducted for all prospective employees in public and private education. The checks must include information regarding any charges of child abuse or endangerment, neglect, sexual offenses or any other felony. A background check for any educational professional cannot be more than two years old.

Medical Personnel

All applicants for positions in the medical professions in Colorado must submit to a criminal background check similar to educators. This includes individuals working in hospitals, medical clinics and nursing home.


Colorado Laws Regarding Credit Information Checks

Employers in Colorado cannot consider information regarding credit when making employment decisions unless the information is relevant for the position being considered. The report must be linked to the potential position before the credit information can be used. If credit information is directly related to the potential position, it can be a deciding factor in the employment process. If the report indicates any irregularities, the applicant must be allowed to explain.

Employees of Banks and Financial Institutions

In Colorado, employers are required by law to conduct a credit check for potential employees in this industry. They are also subject to criminal background checks. There are no exceptions to this law. The information obtained from the credit report must be directly related to the potential job.

Management Personnel and Federal Contractors

Executives and management personnel are exceptions to the law that prohibits employers from using consumer credit information as a basis for hiring, firing or making a compensation adjustment. The credit standing, credit capacity and credit history are examined through credit background checks for contractors involved in defense or national security.


The state of Colorado wants to help employers make informed decisions when hiring new employees. Colorado understands the importance of helping employers obtain criminal background records quickly, while maintaining accuracy. The state maintains a central records archive containing criminal conviction data. Because many applicants misrepresent information or try to embellish their resumes, conducting a criminal background check helps employers eliminate those who provide false information.

Background check reports help employers validate important information regarding education and prior employment prior to hiring. The information obtained from various sources will help employers by sending up a red flag if discrepancies are found. Colorado has found that comprehensive background checks reduce hiring liability by eliminating unqualified potential employees. Workplace theft rates have been reduced along with violence and excessive absenteeism. Insurance companies even give companies discounts because of background check requirements of the state.

Background checks in Colorado enable employers to verify the credentials of all potential employees. It takes the guesswork out of the hiring process and allows for more informed hiring decisions. When all employees are properly screened prior to hiring, the entire organization benefits. Criminal background checks protect the employer and the employees from potential problems that can arise.

  • Updated April 18, 2017
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Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 1 comments
Colleen Whitlow - April 12, 2016

Good Afternoon! I live in Mead Colorado and we have one of safest communities in Colorado however I never our town listed anywhere. Can you let me know how we can change that? I am one of the Board of Trustees and would like to communicate this to others. Thank you so much for your time!


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