EXPUNGEMENT LAWS IN WISCONSIN
Can your criminal record be expunged?
Wisconsin laws are said to be toughest. Under Wisconsin Law, if all of the itemized conditions below are met, the Court MAY* order a record to be Expunged upon successful completion of the entire sentence IF** the Court determines the person will benefit from the Expungement and society will not be harmed by the Expungement:
- The person seeking the Expungement of their record was twenty-five (25) years of age or younger on the day she or he committed the crime for which the Expungement is sought, AND
- The crime has a maximum penalty of no more than six (6) years imprisonment (meaning, the maximum penalty provided in the Wisconsin Statutes states that a person may serve six (6) or less years in prison for a conviction of that crime), AND
- Information about the crime and conviction is not maintained by the Department of Transportation (meaning, the crime and conviction do not involve a license with the DOT, such as a Driver's License or a CDL).
* MAY is an operative word here; it means the Court can order an Expungement, BUT the Court is not obligated to do so, even if all of the conditions for an Expungement are met.
** IF is the operative word here; it means the Court need not think the Expungement will be in society's best interests for whatever reason the Court feels is valid.
Upon successful completion of the sentence the detaining or probationary authority shall issue a certificate of discharge which shall be forwarded to the court of record and which shall have the effect of expunging the record. If the person has been imprisoned, the detaining authority shall also forward a copy of the certificate of discharge to the department.
At any time after a person has been convicted, adjudicated delinquent, or found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect for a violation of s. 944.30, a court may, upon the motion of the person, vacate the conviction, adjudication, or finding, or may order that the record of the violation of s. 944.30 be expunged, if all of the following apply:
- The person was a victim of trafficking for the purposes of a commercial sex act, as defined in s. 940.302 (1) (a), under s. 940.302 or 948.051 or under 22 USC 7101 to 7112.
- The person committed the violation of s. 944.30 as a result of being a victim of trafficking for the purposes of a commercial sex act.
- Official documentation from a federal, state, or local government agency.
- Other relevant and probative evidence of sufficient credibility in support of the motion.
- The person made the motion with due diligence subject to reasonable concern for the safety of himself or herself, family members, or other victims of trafficking for the purposes of a commercial sex act or subject to other reasons consistent with the safety of persons.
- A copy of the motion has been served on the office of the district attorney that prosecuted the case that resulted in the conviction, adjudication, or finding except that failure to serve a copy does not deprive the court of jurisdiction and is not grounds for dismissal of the motion.
- The court in which the motion was made notified the appropriate district attorney's office of the motion and has given the district attorney's office an opportunity to respond to the motion.
- The court determines that the person will benefit and society will not be harmed by a disposition.
A special disposition under this section is not a basis for a claim under s. 775.05.
What is successful completion of a sentence?
A person has successfully completed the sentence if the person has not been convicted of a subsequent offense and, if on probation, the probation has not been revoked and all conditions of probation have been satisfied.
Possible New Legislation
A June 2021 bill, which the Assembly has passed twice before but has never advanced out of the Legislature, proposes to remove the age limit for offenders to petition a court to get a crime removed from their record if they have successfully completed their sentence. If a crime is expunged, it is not considered a conviction for employment, according to the bill, which outlines a process for expungement.
That process includes notification of the victim and the prosecuting attorney, review by a court, and limiting a person to two applications for expungement. Crimes that are not eligible for expungement include stalking offenses, property damage to a business, criminal trespass to a dwelling and violation of a domestic abuse injunction or restraining order.