What is Expungement?
Wisconsin offers expungement of conviction records. Expungement seals your court-record file, but does not restore rights lost due to felony convictions. The court handles expungements.
Who is Eligible for Expungement?
In general, expungement is available only for certain convictions and juvenile adjudications. There are three situations that are eligible for expungement in Wisconsin:
1. The conviction is for a misdemeanor or a first-time nonviolent felony or those with a maximum sentence of six years. If the conviction occurred before July 1, 2009, it must have been for a misdemeanor, and you must have been under age 21 at the time.
If the conviction occurred after July 1, 2009, all of the following must be true:
- The conviction was for a misdemeanor or nonviolent felony;
- You were under the age of 25 at sentencing;
- You successfully completed your sentence; and
- The court decided to expunge at your sentencing
2. You received adjudication as a juvenile delinquent, and you have reached age 17. The court will expunge all juvenile records.
3. You were a victim of human trafficking, and you committed a commercial sex act.
If you are uncertain whether you are eligible for expungement, consult with an attorney.
What Effect Does Expungement Have?
Once a Wisconsin court grants an expungement, the court seals both paper and electronic files. Only a court order will unseal the record. A court has no authority to seal records kept by other state agencies. The record is still available from the Wisconsin Crime Information Bureau's (CIB) Wisconsin Online Record Checks System (WORCS). Schools, employers, landlords, and licensing agencies still have access to your expunged record.
When Can I Apply for Expungement?
Wisconsin law is different from most states on the timing for expungement. In Wisconsin, you must ask for expungement of a conviction when you are sentenced. The judge will decide if you are eligible and "if you will benefit and society will not be harmed" by an expungement. The expungement takes effect only after you have successfully completed your sentence.
How Do I Apply for Expungement?
If the judge decided that you were eligible for expungement when sentenced to jail, prison, or probation, and you have successfully completed that sentence, then expungement should be automatic. Your correctional institution or probation agent will send your certificate of discharge to the court. The court clerk will then enter the expungement. Be sure to check that the court received the certificate of discharge. If it did not, then contact your correctional institution or probation agent and ask for the certificate.
If you were not sentenced to jail, prison, or probation and you had to pay a fine or restitution, you must ask the court to expunge the record. Use Circuit Court Form CR-266 to apply. To access the form, visit the Wisconsin Court System Website here: Wisconsin Court System Circuit Court Form.
If you were a juvenile and want to expunge those records, ask the court using Circuit Court Form JD-1780. To access the form, visit the Wisconsin Court System Website here: Wisconsin Court System Circuit Court Form.
More Information About Expungement
For more information, call Clean Slate Milwaukee @ 414-627-0067. To access published forms and helpful brochures, visit the Office of Court Operations website here: Expunging Court Records.