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How do I get a 21 year old record for retail theft of a $10 wallet in Wisconsin sealed or expunged?

Kenosha, WI |

I was charged with retail theft of a $10 wallet at the age of 20. The court did not order an expungement at the time which I've been told may be a problem. I did not have any sentencing for jail time nor was I put on probation. I was just ordered to pay a fine. I have no prior arrests and no arrests since the one for theft of the wallet.

I should add that I did not have to go to court for this either so I was not found guilty in a court of law. I simply paid a fine after being arrested. I only want the arrest record expunged or sealed.

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Attorney answers 3


There is no way to seal or expunge law enforcement records.

If you were not convicted of a crime, you have no criminal record.

A forfeiture or ordinance conviction by default is still a conviction, whether in municipal or circuit court.

Under present WI law, there is no way to go back and force expungement if it was not available and addressed at the time of sentencing. On a twenty year-old citation, even if court records still exist, it is going to be difficult to try and get sufficient information to accomplish anything by agreement, especially in a default situation.

This answer is provided for general information only. No legal advice can be given without a consult as to the specifics of the case.



I supposed that I am confused as to what a conviction means. I was charged with misdemeanor retail theft by the Kenosha Sheriff's Department. I was not required to go to court for it. I had paid to be released and a small fine that very day and didn't have to do anything else. I was 20 at the time so I wasn't sure of my legal rights. Is sentencing in court different from being charged with something by a sheriff's department?

Michael C. Witt

Michael C. Witt


If you were charged with a misdemeanor, you would have been required to appear in court, as you can not be defaulted on a criminal charge. If you were cited with a forfeiture offense, you were probably convicted by default when you chose not to go to court and contest.


Generally convictions are not able to be expunged. Contact an attorney in WI to see if you might qualify.

Responding to questions on AVVO does not establish an attorney-client relationship between the questioner and any attorney associated with Garrett Law Group, PLC. Responses should be considered and used for informational purposes only. Every case is unique in its facts, and all legal matters should be discussed with a licensed attorney prior to making any decisions or taking any actions.


There may be a way to get the conviction vacated, but that would depend on a lot of things going right. You would essentially have to get the prosecuting attorney and judge to agree to reopen the case and dismiss the charge. This may be difficult based on the age of the case. However, if you are successful, the records regarding the case will still exist, if they haven't already been destroyed, but the records will show that the case was dismissed instead of showing a conviction.