Is your prior Wisconsin conviction eligible to be expunged?
This short guide discusses the limitations of and requirements for having a conviction expunged ("expunction") under current Wisconsin law.
Expunction under Wisconsin law will not remove convictions from a person's criminal or driving records.May people seek expunction in the hopes of removing a criminal conviction from their law enformcent records in the hopes of passing background checks for employment or for a professional license application. However, the Wisconsin Supreme Court, in State v. Leitner, 2002 WI 77, has held that niether the statute (Wis. Stats. sec. 973.015) or Supreme Court Rule (72.06 ) extend beyond circuit court records to law enforcement, district attorney, or Department of Transportation records. Thus, even a successful expunction of a criminal conviction will not eliminate records of arrest or conviction from the law enforcement databases accessed in criminal background searches. Expunction only elimiates the publicly accessible court records under the control of a circuit court and does not void a prior conviction. The one benefit this has is to remove the record of conviction from the publicly available online record of circuit court actions that might be reviewed by anyone.
Is a conviction eligible to be expunged?The statute pertaining to the expunction of convictions, Wis. Stats. sec, 973.015, was modified (effective July 1, 2009) to allow for expunction of criminal convictions under the following circumstances: (1) the charge carries no more than a maximum period of imprisonment of six (6) years (class H and I felony offenses, and misdemeanors); (2) the defendant was under the age of 25 at the time of the offense; (3) the sentencing court orders that the conviction is eligible for expunction at the time of sentencing; (4) that the defendant not have any prior felony convictions if seeking expunction of a class H felony, that the felony is not a violent offense as defined by Wis. Stats. section 301.048 (2) (bm), (stalking, physical abuse of a child by intentional or reckless bodily harm to a child, or sexual assault of a child over the age of 16 by school staff or person who works or volunteers with children); (5) if seeking expunction of a class I felony, that the defendant have no prior felony conviction, that the charge is not a violent offense as defined in Wis. Stats. section 301.048 (2) (bm), and the charge is not concealing or failing to report the disappearance or death of a child; and (6) that the defendant has successfully completed their sentence without being convicted of a subsequent offense or being revoked from probation and satisfied the conditions of probation. The Court of Appeals has also ruled that civil forfeitures are not eligible for expunction (State v. Michaels, 142 Wis. 2d 172, 417 N.W.2d 415 (Ct. App. 1987)), and that the increased eligibility age of 25 is not retroactive to convictions prior to July 2009 (State v. Meinhardt, 2012 WI App 82). It is also worth noting that there is currently no provision under Wisconsin law for the expunction of dismissed charges.