In Wisconsin, misdemeanors and certain felony convictions may be expunged.
If a Circuit Court is going to exercise its discretion to expunge a record, the discretion must be exercised at the sentencing proceeding. There is some question as to whether a request move for expungement may be preserved at the time of sentencing. It is better practice currently to seek ruling for eligibility at the actual time of sentencing.
If a person is under age 25 at the time of commission of the offense for which the person is found guilty, the court may order at the time of sentencing that the record be expunged upon successful completion of the sentence. The court must determine that the person will benefit and society will not be harmed by this disposition.
If the person has in his or her lifetime has been convicted of a prior felony offense, or if the felony is a violent offense, the conviction WILL NOT be expunged. The conviction must be of a certain class with a maximum possible penalty of 6 years in prison or less.
“Expunge” means to strike or obliterate from the record all references to the defendant’s name and identity. It does not erase or remove the conviction from a person’s criminal record. It does not operate to remove the impediment of a felony conviction prohibiting issuance a a Concealed Carry Permit. We have personally observed judges in court advise people to whom expungement is granted that the conviction is removed from the record and that if asked on a job application if they have been convicted of a crime, that the person may answer “No”. We do not believe that to be correct and have employers still locate the charge and conviction on Criminal Background Search through the Wisconsin Department of Justice (costs less than $10 for such a search). Some employers then conclude that the person has lied on a job application in those circumstances.
Expungements are often available in drug possession or drug delivery cases, marijuana, THC, opiates, oxycodone, even heroin possession and other cases. Certain types of theft cases any many other convictions may qualify.
For some reason, the Wisconsin Statutes do not allow expungement of non-criminal, forfeiture and ordinance violation cases. We hope at some future point the legislature will consider revisiting.
If you are charged with a crime and concerned about availability of expunging a conviction, call Courtney & Molter, S.C. to discuss your options and cost of representation.