State law in Wisconsin lets adult criminal records be expunged or sealed only in certain circumstances. If a person was arrested for a criminal offense but never convicted of the crime, it can be possible for them to have their arrest record removed from the Wisconsin Criminal History Repository.
If a person was convicted of a minor criminal offense when they were under 25 years of age, a court can have the authority to expunge the conviction. Anybody who is seeking to get their criminal history expunged or sealed will want to work with an experienced Wisconsin criminal defense lawyer.
How Expungement Works
Wisconsin state law allows courts to expunge records in which an adjudication of guilt is made. Circumstances are usually limited to misdemeanors and certain felonies committed by people under 25 years of age upon successful completion of a sentence or juveniles upon reaching 17 years of age and making requests.
The Wisconsin criminal history repository is maintained by the Wisconsin Department of Justice and operates under rules set by the Wisconsin Legislature in Wisconsin Statute § 165.84. The rules state that any person arrested or taken into custody and subsequently released without charge, or cleared of an offense through court proceedings, can have any fingerprint record taken in conjunction and returned upon request.
Any record of a conviction ordered to be expunged by a court cannot be removed from the Wisconsin criminal history repository because the conviction will disqualify the arrest for removal. In Wisconsin, a court can expunge a conviction record only if a person was under 25 years of age at the time of a criminal offense, the crime carried a maximum period of imprisonment of six years or less, and the person successfully completed the terms of their sentence.
Wisconsin Statute § 973.015 establishes that a court can order at the time of sentencing that a record be expunged upon successful completion of a sentence if the offense was a violation of Wisconsin Statute § 942.08(2)(b), (c), or (d) or Wisconsin Statute § 942.08(3), and the person was under the age of 18 when they committed it. A court cannot order that a record of a conviction be expunged for any Class H felony when a person has, in their lifetime, been convicted of a prior felony offense or if the felony is a violent offense, as defined in Wisconsin Statute § 301.048(2)(bm), or is a violation of Wisconsin Statute § 940.32, Wisconsin Statute § 948.03(2), (3), or (5)(a) 1., 2., 3., or 4., or Wisconsin Statute § 948.095, or is a Class I felony, if the person has, in their lifetime, been convicted of a prior felony offense, or if the felony is a violent offense, as defined in Wisconsin Statute § 301.048 (2) (bm), or is a violation of Wisconsin Statute § 948.23 (1) (a).
If a judge decides that a person is eligible for expungement when they are sentenced to jail, prison, or probation and they have successfully completed their sentence, expungement should be automatic. The correctional institution or probation agent should send a certificate of discharge to the court.
A court clerk enters the expungement. A person should check that the court received the certificate of discharge because if it did not, they must contact the correctional institution or probation agent to ask for the certificate.
If a person was not sentenced to jail, prison, or probation and had to pay a fine or restitution, they must ask the court to expunge the record. Doing so will require Circuit Court Form CR-266, which can be found on the Wisconsin Court System website.
If a person is a juvenile and wants to expunge criminal records, they must ask the court using Circuit Court Form JD-1780.
How Record Sealing Works
Whereas expungement erases a criminal record so it is as though the criminal offense never happened, record sealing only hides a criminal record from public view, although certain law enforcement agencies and employers may still be able to see it. Wisconsin Statute § 801.21 establishes that the term redact is defined as obscuring individual items of information within an otherwise publicly accessible document, while seal means to order that a portion of a document or an entire document shall not be accessible to the public.
A person seeking to protect a court record not protected by Wisconsin Statute § 801.19 or included on the list described in Wisconsin Statute § 801.20 must file a motion to seal part or all of a document or to redact specific information within a document. A motion must be served on all parties to the action, and the filing party must specify the authority for asserting that the information should be restricted from public access.
Information to be sealed or redacted can be filed under a temporary seal, in which case it will be restricted from public access until the court rules on the motion. A court can determine if a hearing is necessary on a motion to seal or redact a court record and can require that the moving party provide notice to the general public by posting information at the courthouse or other location, including the time, date, and location of the hearing.
A court must determine whether there are sufficient grounds to restrict public access according to applicable constitutional, statutory, and common law. In restricting access, a court will use the least restrictive means that will achieve the purposes of this rule and the needs of the requester.
A court can order that a document be redacted in the manner provided under Wisconsin Statute § 801.19. If a court seals or redacts information, the public record shall indicate that an order to seal or redact was issued and the name of the court official entering the order.
Unredacted or sealed documents are not accessible to the public, even if admitted as a trial or hearing exhibit unless the court permits access. A clerk of the circuit court or register in probate can certify a record as a true copy of an original record on file with the court by stating that information has been redacted or sealed in accordance with court rules or as ordered by the circuit court.
A court can, on its own initiative, order the sealing or redaction of any part of the court record or transcript.
Removal of Arrest Information
All arrest information in Wisconsin criminal history records is maintained by the Wisconsin Department of Justice and must be accompanied by an arrest fingerprint card. Wisconsin state law allows for the removal of an arrest fingerprint card when a person arrested is subsequently released without charge or cleared of an offense through court proceedings on all charges for that arrest.
If a person was arrested and was found to be not guilty, criminal charges were dismissed by a court or prosecutor, or no charges were ever filed by a prosecutor, a person can qualify for removal of the arrest information from their record. To have a fingerprint record removed, all of the aforementioned criteria must be satisfied.
If an arrest on the record qualifies for removal, a person must submit a Fingerprint Record Removal Request (DJ-LE-250B) to the Wisconsin Department of Justice Crime Information Bureau (CIB). Charges that will not be eligible for removal include individual charges that are part of arrests, custody transactions like warrants, probation violations, and extradition proceedings, expungement of cases in court that do not satisfy the statutory requirements for removal from a criminal record, offenses resulting in convictions with stipulations that records be expunged upon successful completion of the terms of an agreement, and dispositions under first offender or youthful offender provisions that do not qualify unless a criminal charge was dismissed by a court.
Contact Our Appleton Criminal Defense Lawyers Today
It is plainly evident that expunging or sealing a criminal record can be a highly complex process that often requires legal guidance. People should be sure to work with Hogan Eickhoff when they are trying to clear their criminal records because our team understands the most effective ways of handling these cases and helping people overcome all obstacles.
We only handle criminal defense cases, so we understand the importance of minimizing potential long-term damage caused by a criminal record. You can call (920) 450-9800 or contact us online to receive a free consultation.