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Expungement, Removal of Arrest Records, and Executive Pardons

According to the "open records law" in Wisconsin, criminal records are open to the public. Anyone can obtain criminal proceeding records from law enforcement agencies or courts. For this reason, you should consult with an expungement lawyer if you have a misdemeanor or felony conviction. At Brabazon Law Offices, we assist clients with expungements in the Green Bay, WI and De Pere, WI areas.

Circuit court records can be accessed by the public at no cost on the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access website, which is known as the Consolidated Court Automation Programs, or CCAP. The Crime Information Bureau (CIB) is the Wisconsin Department of Justice's criminal history database. Anyone can pay a fee for a criminal background check on another person.

Because it is easy for the general public to obtain information about a felony or misdemeanor conviction, it is understandable to be concerned about someone accessing your records. For this reason, you should contact an expungement attorney. When records are expunged, the record of the conviction is removed from the WCCA and a request will show that no record is found. The record cannot be considered at a subsequent sentencing, for sentence enhancement, or to attack the individual's credibility.

There is no requirement for the records to be destroyed, so records maintained by law enforcement agencies are not affected by expungement. The CIB database contains information about arrests, charges, court findings, and sentences. The information is based on arrest fingerprint cards. This information can be removed from the database in certain situations. This includes people released without charges or cleared in court proceedings.

A form is available from the Department of Justice to request that information in the CIB database be removed. This has no effect on the availability of the information from court files and police records. When information that was reported to the FBI, the Department of Justice will notify them to remove the information from FBI records.

A judge may expunge a conviction, provided that four conditions are met, including being under the age of 25 at the time of the offense, an offense that carries a maximum penalty of 6 years or less, the court must find but expungement would be a benefit to the individual, and no harm to society. In addition, the determination must be made at the time of sentencing and the sentence completed successfully.

The sentence is considered successfully completed when the person has not been convicted of a subsequent offense, probation was satisfied and not revoked. A certificate of discharge must be forwarded to the court of record. No record can be expunged for a person with a prior felony conviction or current conviction for a violent felony, such as substantial bodily harm, homicide, murder, substantial or aggravated battery, unborn-child battery, kidnaping, intimidation of victims or witnesses, causing harm to a child, child abduction, and other serious offenses.

Pardons

The power to pardon lies with the governor and can be exercised however the governor sees fit. This power is granted in Article V, section 6 of the Wisconsin Constitution:

  • The governor has the power to grant pardons and commutations for any offense other than treason or impeachment. Each year, the governor must communicate with the legislature about each case, including the name of the individual, crime, sentence, and date, pardon or reprieve, and reasons for granting it.
  • A pardon restores the rights lost after conviction, including voting, possessing a firearm, jury duty, and holding public office and various licenses.

A pardon does not expunge the criminal record or prevent it from being discovered. There are several factors to consider when applying for a pardon, including:

  1. Nature of the Crime - More serious crimes are less likely to be pardoned, such as crimes against young children, aggravated or violent crimes, or multiple crimes.

  2. Time Since Conviction When more time has passed, the request is more likely to be considered.

  3. Punishment Served without problem - You must be able to demonstrate that the conditions of probation were successfully completed. A pardon is likely to be denied when the person exhibited bad conduct in prison.

  4. Conduct Since the Crime - A positive change in behavior since the offense is essential. The individual must show that they are a productive member of society and have had no further contact with law enforcement.

  5. Need -Generally, applicants need a pardon to pursue or advance in a career or overcome a barrier caused by the conviction.

  6. Community Support - When applying for a pardon, the individual must submit letters of support from employers, coworkers, law enforcement officials or others that are respected and trusted in the community.

  7. District Attorney's Position - The DA who prosecuted the case must be notified and can make comments to the Pardon Advisory Board.

  8. Judge's Position - The sentencing judge must be notified and the judge?s comments can have a significant impact on the decision to grant a pardon.

  9. Input from Victims and Others - Letters of testimony from victims or a probation agent can influence the decision to grant a pardon.

  10. Sincerity - The applicant will appear before the board and be judged on the credibility and sincerity of the applicant.

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Brabazon Law Office, LLC P.O. Box 11213 Green Bay, WI 54307-1213 Phone: (920) 494-1106 Fax: (920) 494-0501 E-Mail: brabazonlaw@msn.com

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