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Milwaukee, WI family law attorney for grandparent visitation By Ray Dall’Osto, Jason Luczak & Chris Strohbehn

Wisconsin, like most states, considers arson to be a very serious criminal act and imposes stiff penalties on anyone convicted of the crime. An individual facing arson accusations and charges in Wisconsin should consult with and work with a skilled criminal defense attorney who is also familiar with applicable insurance law and claims procedures, to best deal with and understand the charges and potential consequences of a conviction.

Arson to Buildings and Property Damage

Anyone who commits one of the following acts may face felony arson charges under Wisconsin law:

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Milwaukee, WI criminal record expungement attorney

 By Ray Dall’Osto & Erin Strohbehn

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.

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After Governor Tony Evers’ election and first six months in office, the chance for a fresh start has been restored to those who have a criminal record. Offenders can now apply for pardons for the first time since Evers’ predecessor Scott Walker halted the process eight years ago. Evers has reformed the Pardon Advisory Board, which consists of nine members who consider pardon requests and provide recommendations to the governor. Anyone who is seeking a pardon should understand the steps that will be followed.

What Does the Process Look Like?

The pardon process begins with an application that is submitted to the Pardon Advisory Board. Pardons will be considered for those who have been convicted of a felony in Wisconsin, completed their entire sentence at least five years ago, and have not been convicted of any new criminal offenses since completing their sentence. However, not all offenders can apply: anyone on the sex offender registry is ineligible. 

After submitting the application, it must be deemed eligible and complete by the board before moving forward. A public hearing will be scheduled. Though a hearing is typically only 15 minutes in length, the applicant will answer a series of questions posed by the board. These will focus on information about the crimes that were committed, the individual’s current lifestyle, and an explanation for why a pardon is deserved in this instance. If the board recommends a pardon, the Governor will receive the application for a final review. This is not a quick process, due to the high influx of applications that has come with the reinstatement of the Pardon Advisory Board.

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Milwaukee, WI pardon application lawyerOne of recently elected Governor Evers’ campaign promises was to address pardons in the state of Wisconsin. A pardon is similar to an expungement in that it grants a second chance to individuals who have been convicted of a crime. Having a record expunged removes the offense completely from a person’s criminal record. Pardons do not have this same power, but they do give back some of the rights that are taken away from citizens after receiving a criminal conviction. If granted a pardon, an individual can once again own a gun, vote, be on a jury, hold public office, and hold various licenses that they were not eligible for as a convicted felon. While an offense may still appear in background checks, having it pardoned can help a person put a better foot forward when seeking employment opportunities.

Governor Evers recently recreated the nine-member Pardon Advisory Board to address the thousands of pardon requests that have not been attended to. Before Evers came into office, Governor Scott Walker put the pardon process to a stop in 2011. According to The Washington Post, the Governor Evers’ office has already received requests from 1,600 individuals regarding pardons.

How Can I Get a Pardon?

Pardons have a required application process that must be completed and sent to the governor’s office. There are four requirements that must be met for a person to be considered for a pardon:

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Milwaukee criminal lawyers for expungementUnder Wisconsin law, expungement means “to strike or obliterate from the record all references to the defendant’s name and identity.” In other words, this removes a person’s criminal past from their record. The purpose of this is to give individuals a second chance. A criminal record can follow someone for the rest of their life, especially since online tools are available that allow anyone to research a person’s background. Websites such as Wisconsin Circuit Court Access allow users to search names and find people’s criminal records, and this can affect a person’s ability to find a job, obtain housing, or apply for education, and it can also impact someone’s personal reputation and relationships. Many advocates are calling for reform of Wisconsin’s expungement system to reduce the negative repercussions faced by people who have served a criminal sentence.

The Current Expungement Law

At this time, expungement in Wisconsin is limited based on the age of the offender and the form of request. A person must be under the age of 25 at the time the offense was committed to be able to request expungement. In addition, the violation of the law that was allegedly committed must have a maximum sentence of six years of imprisonment and must be a misdemeanor or “minor nonviolent first felony.” Under the current law, expungement must also be requested at the time of sentencing. This request must be approved by the judge, and full completion of the sentence is required before a person’s record can be expunged.

The Proposed Expungement Bill

The purpose of expungement is to give a fresh start to those who have made a mistake. However, the current law has an age cap for those who are allowed to benefit from expungement. A bill which is currently being considered by the Wisconsin legislature focuses on trying to make expungement more accessible for those who have committed low-level offenses. If the new law is passed, expungement will not be exclusively available to those who are under the age of 25 at the time the offense was committed. The bill would also allow a longer time frame for expungement requests. Rather than requiring requests for expungement to be made at the time of sentencing, the law would permit requests to be made at a later date as long as a person has completed their sentence.

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