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Expungement Reform Stalls in State Senate, So What Can You Do to Correct Errors in Criminal Records?

 Posted on November 14, 2019 in Criminal Defense

Milwaukee, WI criminal law attorney for expungement

By Ray Dall’Osto

After passing the Wisconsin Assembly earlier this year as A.B. 33, the Wisconsin Senate adjourned this year’s legislative session, without taking action to approve the parallel bipartisan expungement bill pending before it, S.B. 39. The proposed expungement reform bill, which has long been supported by the State Bar of Wisconsin and was favorably considered in previous years and legislative sessions, would change state law involving getting a criminal record expunged. If passed by the Senate and signed by Governor Evers, the expungement reform bill will significantly help alleviate the negative impact a criminal record can have on individuals seeking employment, housing, volunteer work, and in other areas where the stigma of a conviction can pose a roadblock, even in cases where the crime was nonviolent, a misdemeanor or lower-class felony, and/or committed many years ago. 

Current Law and Proposed Revisions

Currently, expungement in Wisconsin is available to persons convicted of misdemeanors and some minor felonies when they were under the age of 25, and who requested expungement at the time of their sentencing hearing.

A.B. 33 and its Senate equivalent would allow persons convicted of misdemeanors and minor and non-violent felonies, regardless of how old they were at the time of the offense, to have their records expunged. These bills would also remove the current restrictions that an expungement request must be made at the original sentencing hearing and would apply to all previous convictions, regardless of when such occurred, and allow for expungement petitions to be filed with the court at a later date.

In addition to the remedy of expungement, there currently exist some administrative mechanisms to address mistaken and outdated criminal records that can show up on background checks and other inquiries into an individual’s history.

What Conduct Can Result in a Criminal Record

Wisconsin Statutes §165.83(2)(a). requires the state Department of Justice to keep, and state and local law enforcement agencies to submit arrest and charge information to the DOJ Crime Information Bureau (CIB), including fingerprints, descriptions, photographs and any other available identifying data on both adults and juveniles who have been arrested or taken into custody in this state:

1. For an offense which is a felony or which would be a felony if committed by an adult.

2. For an offense which is a misdemeanor, which would be a misdemeanor if committed by an adult or which is a violation of an ordinance, and the offense involves burglary tools, commercial gambling, dealing in gambling devices, contributing to the delinquency of a child, dealing in stolen property, controlled substances or controlled substance analogs under ch. 961, firearms, dangerous weapons, explosives, pandering, prostitution, sex offenses where children are victims, or worthless checks.

3. For an offense charged or alleged as disorderly conduct but which relates to an act connected with one or more of the offenses under subd. 2.

4. As a fugitive from justice. 

5. For any other offense designated by the attorney general.

The experience of criminal defense attorneys at GRGB shows that many non-criminal ordinance violations can sometimes show up insult in a CIB record.  The CIB reports a considerable amount of this information to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC).

A person’s fingerprints and other information are entered into a central database managed by the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Crime Information Bureau (CIB). This database—or centralized criminal history—contains detailed records of arrests, charges, prosecutions, court findings, and sentences.

With the sheer number of arrests and charges filed daily coming from so many diverse state and local sources, errors can sometimes occur at various points in the process. These errors can stem from situations involving someone using another person’s identity when arrested, or individual records and information being transposed or confused based on similar personal information, such as names and/or dates of birth (dob), or the passage of time, when arrests do not result in a conviction, yet the arrest and original charge are still listed on a person’s CIB record.

What to Do

Anyone concerned about what is on his or her official CIB criminal record, or that an error or outdated information shows up, can request and file a Criminal History Challenge. See the links in the source section below.   

Contact a Milwaukee Criminal Expungement Lawyer

Hiring an experienced criminal defense and expungement attorney to obtain and get a criminal record expunged and errors corrected is advisable. If you think your record is inaccurate, or if people are receiving erroneous background and other personal information about you, contact the Milwaukee, WI criminal defense and employment law attorneys at Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP by calling 414-271-1440.

















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