So far in 2019, Wisconsin has seen the beginning of the reinstitution of pardon policy by the Governor and passage of an expungement reform bill by the state Assembly. If approved by the state Senate, this bill would expand the age range in which expungements are available to previous offenders and go a long way to address unnecessary restrictions that have been placed on expungement petitions by several court of appeals decisions. A Pardon Advisory Board was named by Governor Evers this summer, which will help to facilitate the pardon process, and will allow pardons to be considered and approved, for the first time in over eight years.
It is important to understand that executive pardons and expunging of conviction records are not the same thing. A governor’s pardon does not expunge (clear) a criminal record; but rather it relieves the person pardoned of the disabilities of a criminal conviction. Expungement under current Wisconsin statutes (973.015) seals a criminal case file. However, it does not clear an arrest and conviction record off of the Crime Information Bureau records in Madison, and it may or may not remove the case from the publicly accessible Circuit Court Access Program (CCAP).
1. If my record is expunged, can no one find out about my case? Having your record expunged does not mean that it disappears from all legal departments. Under current law, a judge can order the expungement of the circuit court’s record of your case, but not the records of other legal agencies. The Wisconsin Department of Justice Crime Information Bureau (CIB) has a record of all felony and many misdemeanor arrests and convictions, even those that have been expunged. That means that any employer who runs a background check through the CIB can receive expunged records.
2. Do I still have to admit my conviction if my record was expunged? Depending on the context, you may still have to admit your criminal record, even if it was expunged, e.g., in professional license applications, military enlistment, etc. Though the record was expunged, and the court record has been sealed, the original conviction has not been set aside or reversed. Many job applications ask if you have ever been convicted of a crime. You should consult with knowledgeable legal counsel when faced with questions about prior arrests, convictions, etc.
3. If I was arrested but not charged with a crime, can I get that expunged? The only people eligible to have their record expunged are those who have been convicted of a crime. If no conviction occurred, the record cannot be expunged. However, there are means to remove arrest records from the CIB, which the lawyers at Gimbel Reilly Guerin & Brown can assist you with.
4. Can my record still be expunged if my charges were dismissed? Since expungement only applies to a conviction, dismissed charges do not qualify for expungement. Dismissed charges can be removed from CIB records, and under reforms approved by the State Court Director last year, which Attorney Ray Dall’Osto was involved with, removal from CCAP is an option as well, and this will be automatic two years after a dismissal.
A Milwaukee Expungement Lawyer Can Help
Clearing one’s arrest or conviction record, as well as responding to employer or license questions about same, can make all the difference. It can give a fresh start in the professional world and allow them to close a chapter from their past. At Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown LLP, we understand the impact that an arrest and conviction record has and the effects that expungement and other record-clearing methods can have on an individual’s future, especially for those just getting started in the business world. Firm attorneys have been at the forefront of expungement reform efforts. We have many years of combined criminal defense as well as employment and licensing law experience, and we know what is necessary to get results for our clients. If you are seeking to get your record cleared or expunged, contact our Milwaukee, WI criminal defense and employment attorneys at 414-271-1440.