The bill was written with the help of Assembly Representative Emily Schulman (D-Milwaukee), who proposed the measure in 2018. Still, it passed the Assembly in early February after lawmakers and advocates worked out key details.
After being approved by the Assembly, the bill headed to the Senate. Governor Tony Evers (D-Wisconsin) signed the bill as of June of 2021.
How It Works
According to Assembly Joint Resolution 2 (AIR 2), people who have been convicted of certain crimes can request the removal of the convictions from their records. Convictions related to prostitution, drug sales, and gang-related offenses, sexual abuse, or gun possession, for example, would be removed if the person received a suspended sentence, did not finish probation or parole, or was released from prison.
People convicted of Class A and B felony offenses that are nonviolent and two-strike crimes would be eligible to have their convictions removed if they don't violate any of the following conditions:
Two years have passed since the conviction
They complete a substance abuse treatment program or outpatient treatment program
They complete any other program
They are not subject to felony probation or parole
They are not on parole
They were sentenced to 10 years in prison or less, but they served nine years or less
The average cost of a criminal record search is $35 in Wisconsin. If someone has been convicted of a crime that would be erased under the new law, they may fill out a judicial record access form to file their request with the state's circuit court. The request must be filed within one year of the last conviction, and a judge must review it. The judge can either approve or deny the request based on the nature of the crime.
After the court grants the request, the person is given a court date to complete the expungement process and then asks for a certificate of expungement from the Division of Criminal Records. The person's license that was issued on the last day of the person's sentence would also be permanently revoked.
Most applicants will receive a certificate of expungement. However, if the applicant does not pay $75 to the division, the person will receive a record notice. The law stipulates that the record notice can only be filed if the person's application was denied. If the application was approved, the division must send a notice to the ex-offender's address of record with a copy of the certificate.
Expungement in the Past
Wisconsin had a similar expungement law in place for 10 years, but it was invalidated in 2017 by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. The case, Sizemore v. State, involved a man who was denied a certificate of expungement for a crime that was not a crime of violence. In the process of filing an expungement request, the man's conviction was reclassified as a violent felony. When he received the certificate of expungement, he discovered that his sentence was only reduced from a Class 6 felony to a Class 5 felony, which did not impact his ability to vote or get a job.
Since then, lawmakers have been working on an expungement bill. As part of the agreement reached with law enforcement, judges would have the discretion to expunge lesser charges or cases where probation was granted or parole granted early from criminal record reports. If the case involved the crime of homicide or sexual assault, judges would still have the discretion to allow those crimes to be reported on the criminal record.
Currently, 23 states have laws that automatically expunge certain felony convictions. Wisconsin is one of six states that have expungement or expungement legislation for less severe offenses.
We Want to Help
If you're looking to have a crime expunged from your record in Wisconsin, it's critical to get a skilled defense attorney on your side right away. The law handles these types of matters very seriously, so it's in your best interest to seek help as soon as possible. If you have any questions at all, we're here to answer them and help you through this tough time.Contact our skilled attorneys at Ahmad & Associates today by calling (414) 928-7771 or by filling out our online contact form.