When a judge expunges or “erases” a Wisconsin criminal court record, this means the court is essentially “sealing” a case file and no one is permitted to access the file, save a few limited situations where a court order is involved. In such cases, if someone inquires about a sealed criminal case, the court must note that no information is available. In fact, searching for a defendant’s name or case number will not even return case information on the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access website.
Is your record eligible for expungement?
A judge might decide to expunge your Wisconsin criminal case if all of the following are true:
- You were under age 25 at the time the crime was committed.
- The offense carried a maximum imprisonment period of six or less years.
- You completed all terms of your sentence.
Some offenses are excluded from the expungement process, so it is important to speak to a lawyer about your particular case file – especially if it was a felony.
What about juvenile cases?
Juvenile cases may be erased when you reach age 17 and have complied with the conditions of the court’s sentencing order. The court must also find that you will benefit from the expungement process and society will not be harmed.
Are there any other situations where the expungement process may be relevant?
A person’s case might be expunged in very limited situations where one was a victim of human trafficking.
A note worth mentioning
Even if your criminal record is expunged, this does not absolve you of the legal duty to disclose the former offense, for example, on a job application. You must report the conviction if such information is requested by an employer; however, you might also detail the fact that the conviction was expunged.
Ultimately, the expungement law in Wisconsin is not black and white. Much depends on judicial discretion, as well as when, exactly, the crime was committed. This is because the laws around expungement have changed recently, and they may continue to evolve with time. To learn more about erasing something off your criminal record, speak with a professional versed in these laws.