The tragic shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs on Saturday, November 19, has left many struggling to comprehend how the incident happened.

“Our hearts go out to those injured and the victims’ families, friends, and loved ones,” Alexis Austin, a criminal defense attorney at Right Law Group in Colorado Springs, said. “It’s a terrible and far-reaching crime affecting many individuals.”

But, Austin noted, the senseless crime also underscores the importance of understanding the process of unsealing records in Colorado — a question that has arisen for many people around the country in the aftermath of this event

The suspect, Anderson Lee Aldrich, was previously arrested in Colorado a few years prior for threatening violent behavior, but those records were sealed. He then reportedly used legally-obtained firearms when he entered Club Q and opened fire, injuring 17 people and killing five.

 The mass shooting has brought questions from the public regarding the State of Colorado’s process for sealing criminal records. Details in the shooter’s past seemed to indicate that this tragedy may have been prevented had some aspects of the Colorado criminal law process been observed, but understanding the process fully gives us some more clear answers

Club Q Shooter’s Sealed Criminal Past

Aldrich was arrested last year after threatening his mother in her home with a homemade explosive. The incident led to a standoff with police, the evacuation of nearby homes, and Aldrich being charged with kidnapping and felony menacing. However, for reasons still unclear, no conviction was ever sought for the case, and the record was later sealed

Qualifications for Sealing Colorado Criminal Records

In 2019, the Colorado legislature passed bill HB19-1275, which increases eligibility for criminal records to be sealed, giving those with a criminal past more future opportunities in society. 

According to the legislation, a further simplified process for sealing records is in place for cases that fit specific criteria:

  • The criminal case is dismissed either by the prosecution or after the defendant is acquitted at trial
  • The defendant completes a diversion agreement
  • The defendant completes a deferred judgment and sentence, and the charges are dismissed

“The sealing of criminal records, in most cases, gives a fresh start to individuals who want to turn over a new leaf,” Austin explained. “It’s intended to give people who’ve made mistakes in the past an opportunity to pursue a productive life—not to give violent people an opportunity to victimize the public.”

 In the case of Aldrich’s 2021 arrest—if charges were pursued and a successful conviction achieved—Aldrich likely would not have met the state’s qualifications for the record to be sealed. Further, Austin said, it’s possible he would not have been legally permitted to own the firearms he used in this month’s attack because a felony conviction would prevent him from owning weapons for a number of years — possibly his lifetime

About Right Law Group

Right Law Group is a Top-Rated Colorado Springs Criminal Defense Law Firm that values honesty, integrity, and constant self-improvement. With experience and knowledge of Colorado criminal law and a background in prosecution, we fight for our client’s rights using real-life experience, whether they find themselves in trouble for a DUI, misdemeanor, felony, domestic violence, or another criminal charge.

Right Law Group has two locations: 102 S Tejon St. #1156, Colorado Springs, CO 80903, in downtown Colorado Springs, and the Garden of the Gods location at 5030 Boardwalk Dr. Suite 225, Colorado Springs, CO 80919.

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