Expungement in Wisconsin: An Empty Promise

As a Racine expungement lawyer, I’ve seen first-hand the empty promise of expungement. Wisconsin Statutes Section 973.015 allows a court to expunge a criminal conviction under certain circumstances. With certain exceptions, a court may expunge a misdemeanor conviction or a conviction for a class H or I felony if the defendant was under 25 years old when he or she committed the crime. Expungement is commonly believed to give a defendant a “fresh start.” In other words, most people believe that expungement allows a defendant to continue with his or her life as if he or she had never been convicted of a crime. Indeed, “expunge” means “to destroy, blot out, obliterate.”

Unfortunately, many judges and prosecutors have this belief as well. In reality, expungement only removes the case information from Wisconsin Circuit Court Access (CCAP) and the conviction cannot be used against the defendant if he or she is ever charged with a crime in the future or testifies in court. The information is not removed from the Crime Information Bureau (“CIB”) database, and many employers use the CIB database to run background checks on job applicants. Thus, an employer running a background check would see that the applicant had been convicted of a crime and that the conviction was expunged.

This poses a huge problem for people with expunged convictions because many job applications ask whether the applicant has ever been convicted of a crime. If the applicant answers “yes,” the employer will know that the applicant has been convicted of a crime even though the conviction was expunged and therefore nobody should know about it. If the applicant answers “no” and the employer obtains the applicant’s CIB record, the employer could regard the applicant’s answer as untruthful. Consequently, most attorneys will advise their clients to answer “yes” but attach documentation showing that the conviction has been expunged. But this is far from ideal.

Given the empty promise of expungement in Wisconsin, you should always hire an experienced expungement lawyer to handle your case. There are many options other than expungement, such as amending a criminal charge to an ordinance violation or dismissal of charges altogether after completing a deferred prosecution agreement. Don’t make the mistake of hiring an inexperienced expungement lawyer. You may regret it for the rest of your life.

Call Racine expungement lawyer Christopher Glinski for a free consultation at (414) 313-7918.

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