Wisconsin allows adult criminal records to be expunged -- that is, erased or sealed -- in very limited circumstances. If you were arrested but not convicted of a crime, it may be possible to have some or all of your arrest record removed from the Wisconsin Criminal History Repository. If you were convicted of a minor offense when you were under the age of 25, a court may have the authority to expunge that conviction.
If a court does agree to expunge your record, the expungement does not relieve you of the obligation to disclose -- for example, on a job application -- that you were convicted of a crime. You must say that you were convicted, but you may explain that the conviction was expunged.
Below is a summary of Wisconsin’s state laws governing expungement.
Removal of Arrest Information
If you were arrested and released without being charged with a crime -- or if the charges against you were dismissed -- you may be able to have the arrest removed from your record. (For more information, see Section 165.84(1) of the Wisconsin Statutes and visit the Wisconsin Department of Justice website.)
Expunging a Criminal Conviction
In Wisconsin, a court may expunge your conviction record only if:
- you were under the age of 25 at the time you committed the crime
- the crime carried a maximum period of imprisonment of six years or less, and
- you successfully completed the terms of your sentence.
(Wisconsin Statutes § 973.015.)
Getting Legal Help
Cleaning up a criminal history can be complicated. In Wisconsin, you may want to begin with the pamphlet called Expunging Court Records. If you are not sure whether your record qualifies for expungement, or if you need advice about your personal situation, contact a qualified criminal law attorney. A good lawyer can guide you each step of the way.