The rules about removing arrest records in Wisconsin can be complex. You have every interest in having a clean record. Arrests and convictions can show up on a background check, and they can harm your ability to move on with your life. If expungement or removal is an option for you, it is something that you should certainly pursue. First, you need to understand the state’s laws and how to get the information removed.
Whether your arrest records can be removed from your history depends on certain factors. If you have been convicted of the crime, your arrest records would generally remain on your record, along with the fingerprint card that accompanied the arrest. No matter what, this may end up being a permanent blemish on your record unless the law is changed in the future.
The Circumstances Under Which Arrests Can Be Removed
The law in Wisconsin is that your arrest records can be removed if the following apply:
- You were tried and found not guilty
- The charges were dismissed by the court
- The prosecutor chose not to file charges or dropped the charges against you
A conviction could mean that you were tried and found guilty, or you accepted a deal to plead guilty to the charges. As soon as you are convicted, the arrest records will stay with you permanently.
Wisconsin Law Is Very Restrictive About Expunging Convictions
Wisconsin law allows for certain criminal records to be expunged entirely, although the state currently has one of the more restrictive laws on this topic in the country. You can have criminal records expunged if the offense was committed when you were under the age of 25 and you have completed your sentence. This rule applies to only certain categories of crimes, and it excludes some serious felonies. Although there are some reform efforts underway, recognizing the severity of the law, nothing has been signed into law yet.
Even Expungement Does Not Remove the Arrest Record
However, even if your conviction was expunged, it does not necessarily mean that your arrest records will disappear. The fact that you were convicted means that the arrest will stay on your record. Only arrests that did not result in a conviction for the reasons above are subject to removal. Therefore, this part of your case will not go away. However, Wisconsin employers are legally forbidden to even request information about the prospective employee’s arrest record. If the conviction is expunged, it will not show up on background checks, so this should remove the risk that you will be discriminated against on the basis of an arrest alone. Nonetheless, you want your records to be as free of anything negative as possible.
However, there are some exceptions that allow employers to ask about arrest records. If the charges against you are still pending, an employer could ask about arrests. They may also ask if the position for which you are applying requires bonding. In addition, landlords could have access to your arrest records, and they may make housing decisions based on them.
The Rule About Arrest Records Is the Same Regardless of the Type of Crime at Issue
This rule applies even to minor convictions that received very little or no punishment from the court. For example, if you end up in a diversion program, the charges have not been dismissed, and there is no finding of not guilty. Similarly, case dispositions under first offender or youthful offender provisions do not qualify for removal of arrest records.
Arrest information may not be removed from your record automatically on its own. This is something that you may need to request. It is important that you remain vigilant and take all steps possible to make sure that your record is clean.
How to Remove Arrests from Your Record
The Wisconsin Department of Justice maintains the records of your arrest. You would need to submit a form to them requesting the removal of arrest records. If you have evidence of the disposition of your case (meaning that there was no conviction), you should include it with the form to make the government’s job easier. This form would also need to include your fingerprints, so the department can match them to those on the card that accompanied your arrest. You would not need to pay any fee to request the removal of your arrest records. You also have the legal right to challenge anything in your records that is inaccurate.
Considerations When You Have Been Charged with a Crime
Wisconsin’s tough rules may be another reason in favor of fighting the charges against you. Even if you secured a favorable plea bargain and the conviction could be expunged, your record will never be fully clean. These are considerations that an experienced criminal defense attorney would point out to you when explaining your legal options.
When you have been charged with a crime, you may only be able to see the present. The stress of the legal process may prevent you from being able to think clearly. The consequences of a conviction weigh heavily on your mind. You are likely not thinking about any other collateral consequences of an arrest or conviction. These are reasons why you hire a criminal defense lawyer. They are here to look out for your interests and explain what you are facing, both now and in the future. We will point out things that you may have overlooked in your situation.
Contact an Appleton Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with a crime or learn that you are under investigation, you should not delay getting legal help. Having a tough and experienced criminal defense lawyer could lead to a better legal outcome. Not having an attorney will only make things worse. The attorneys at Hogan Eickhoff are dedicated to the rights of our clients, and we get results. Call us today at (920) 450-9800 or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation. We are available to you when you need us.