A state law passed by lawmakers in 2019 automatically prevents criminal record retrieval if a case is dropped entirely — and the same law likely sealed the records of a 2021 bomb threat incident involving a man of the same name and the same Dude like the suspect who shot Club Q has been arrested.
The 2019 law, which amended previous laws to seal criminal records, is part of a series of laws introduced over the years that proponents say would make it easier for individuals facing charges to be prosecuted return to some semblance of normality.
The ability to seal records in cases where charges have been dismissed has been included in Colorado’s statutes for decades.
In June 2021, an Anderson Lee Aldrich was arrested over a bomb threat that forced residents of a Lorson Ranch neighborhood in southeastern Colorado Springs to leave their homes for about three hours.
A press release from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said a woman reported that her son Aldrich “threatened to harm her with a homemade bomb, multiple guns and ammunition.”
In that case, which has since been closed, no formal charges have been filed.
Authorities would not confirm that Aldrich, the suspect in the Club Q shooting that killed five people, is the same man arrested in the 2021 bomb threat incident.
In 2019, lawmakers approved — and Gov. Jared Polis signed into law — a proposal to automatically seal criminal records when a case is dropped entirely.
The bipartisan bill, sponsored by Representatives Michael Weissman, D-Aurora and Matt Soper, R-Delta, and Sen. Pete Lee, D-Colorado Springs, simplified the process of sealing criminal records under several conditions:
The case against a defendant is dismissed in its entirety because the defendant is acquitted of all charges;
Defendant enters into a diversion agreement; or
The defendant completes a deferred judgment and sentence, and all charges are dismissed.
The court in these situations must automatically seal these records without the defendant having to file a separate civil complaint to do so, although the law also adds a caveat that if the record is not sealed, the defendant may petition the court to do so.
The law also allows a defendant to seal the criminal record in court after a specified period of time in the event of a criminal conviction for minor, misdemeanor, and more serious offenses. According to the law, the district court may object to the sealing depending on the offense.
The law states that law enforcement agencies can access the sealed records and use them for the purpose of investigating any case.
A legal analysis at the time the law was passed found that between 2014 and 2018 approximately 1,785 petitions were filed to seal criminal convictions, or an average of 357 civil cases per year. Under the legislation, approximately 65,146 cases annually would be eligible for file sealing. Legislative analysis states that it is expected that in 10% of these cases the defendants will request that the records be sealed.
Little is known about the 2021 incident. A man believed to be Aldrich called an editor at the Colorado Springs Gazette in August and asked that the article be removed from the Gazette’s website because the case was closed.
Authorities said Aldrich’s “law enforcement interactions” are part of the broader investigation into the Club Q shooting.