How to Expunge my Public Records in Wisconsin

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In Wisconsin, the deletion of a public record involves restricting access to the record, such that the record becomes unavailable at the state and county repositories. Note that this process does not completely delete a record, it only restricts access to it. Under Wisconsin Statutes § 801.19, certain information contained in court records is automatically sealed from public view; they include, financial accounts, social security, driver’s license, employer and tax identification, and passport numbers. Pursuant to Wisconsin Statutes § 801.21, individuals may file motions to seal confidential information. Also, a party seeking to seal information not covered must file a motion to seal or redact it and specify the authority for restricting public access. These laws apply to all filings in circuit court cases and confidential matters like guardianship and juvenile proceedings.

Public records may be redacted or sealed at the court where the case originated from. Redaction involves removing particular parts of a publicly accessible paper or electronic copy of a document. After a court case is finalized, the confidential parts of the record may be removed, while the other nonconfidential parts will be submitted to the court. While redaction only removes the confidential part of a record, sealing restricts access to the entire document with a protected record, making it inaccessible to the general public.

Generally, individuals may want their public records deleted for any of these reasons :

  • To protect their confidential details such as social security numbers, medical and financial information
  • To conceal sensitive information contained in a record that may compromise the safety of the party named on the record, their family, or property
  • The record contains information on a minor
  • The record violates the record subject’s privacy rights
  • The record contains information that may have a negative effect on the record subject’s image

What is a Public Record in Wisconsin?

A public record in Wisconsin is any document created or maintained by an authority with regard to the official purpose or function of an agency. A public record may be handwritten, spoken, printed, drawn, visual, or in other electronic forms. Public records appear as maps and charts, photographs, films, and tape recordings. Examples of public records in Wisconsin include vital records, court records, criminal records, arrest records, inmate records, etc. These records are available at the county and state repositories and may also be accessible through Non-FCRA Compliant background checks.

Pursuant to the Wisconsin Open Records Law, members of the public are authorized to access and inspect public records of government bodies and agencies at all levels. However, incarcerated persons and persons involuntarily committed to a mental institution have limited rights of access to public records. Access to public records avails the public with the opportunity of monitoring the performance of the government, which guarantees transparency and accountability on the part of the government. The right of access also allows authorized individuals to conduct background checks on regular citizens where necessary. However, certain records may be inaccessible to the general public due to the privacy rights of the party named on the record, the confidentiality of the record, or because they are exempted by State or Federal law. Examples of exempted records in Wisconsin include:

  • Social Security numbers
  • Plans or specification for State buildings
  • Confidential medical information
  • Bank accounts, charge, debit, and credit card numbers
  • Educational records and applicants records
  • Identity of law enforcement Informants
  • Intellectual properties and trade secrets
  • Law enforcement investigative information
  • Security plans
  • Records specifically exempted by State or Federal law, such as pupil or health care records.

Does Wisconsin Allow Expungement?

Yes, Wisconsin allows expungement only in certain cases. For instance, under Wisconsin Statute Section 973.015, it is possible for a person that was arrested but not convicted of a crime to have the arrest record removed from the Wisconsin Criminal History Repository. However, for a person convicted of a severe crime, expungement may not be an open option.

How Do I Expunge My Criminal Record in Wisconsin?

Criminal records can be expunged in Wisconsin, only if the applicant fulfills the following requirements listed below:

  • The applicant was not up to the age of 25 when the offense to be expunged was committed
  • The penalty for the offense did not exceed six years imprisonment
  • The applicant has fully completed the sentence and fulfilled the terms of any other penalties
  • The applicant was not convicted of another criminal offense since the last conviction

Note that expungement does not apply to any information maintained by the Department of Transportation that pertains to a conviction that is required to be included in a record kept under Wisconsin Statute Section 343.23 (2) (a). Likewise, a court shall not issue an expungement order for a Class H felony or Class I felony, if the applicant has ever been convicted of a prior felony offense, or if the felony is a violent offense.

Before an expungement petition may be considered, the applicant must have successfully completed the terms of their sentence. This implies that the applicant has had their probation revoked, the terms of their probation have been fulfilled, and they have not been convicted of a subsequent offense. After this, the probationary authority or correctional institution will forward a Certificate of Discharge to the Circuit Court Clerk. The probationary authority is the Wisconsin agency that supervised the offender during the sentence. Persons seeking to have a record expunged are to check with the Court Clerk in the county where the conviction occurred to verify if a Certificate of Discharge was ever filed. If it was filed, they may contact the probation agency or the correctional authority to obtain the certificate.

Persons that qualify for expungement for non-probation/non-incarceration case records are required to complete the Petition to Expunge Criminal Court Record of Conviction form (Form CR-266). The form should be signed by a notary public. After the form is completed and signed, the original copy should be filed with the Circuit Court in the county where the case was adjudicated. Also, make a copy that will be distributed to the office of the District Attorney and keep an extra copy of the application. Eligible persons with probation or incarceration case records must complete the Petition to Expunge Record (DOC 2678) form from the Wisconsin Department of Correction to petition for expungement. All restitution and court costs must have been paid in full before applying. An expungement request must be submitted to the Criminal Clerk of Court’s Office in the county where the conviction took place.

If a juvenile conviction is to be expunged, the juvenile must have successfully fulfilled all the conditions of the dispositional order before reaching the age of 17. Generally, juvenile records are not accessible on the Wisconsin Court System Circuit Court Access (WCCA) portal, but other law enforcement agencies may still access them. To expunge a juvenile record complete the Petition to Expunge Court Record of Adjudication/Recommendation of District Attorney (Form JD-1780) and file it with the District Attorney. The District Attorney will review the form and recommend it for filing with the Circuit Court in the county where the final rulings of the case took place.

Generally, before an expungement is granted by the court, the following will be considered:

  • Whether the applicant has fully satisfied all the requirements associated with the dispositional order,
  • Whether the applicant will benefit from the expungement
  • Whether the expungement is in the best interest of the society

Expungement only applies to persons with conviction records that were convicted in a criminal court or adjudicated delinquent in a juvenile court. Hence, persons with dismissed charges who were never convicted or persons charged with offenses, but not found guilty can not apply for expunction. These persons can, however, apply to have certain information removed from their criminal history through the Wisconsin Crime Information Bureau (CIB). To do this, download and complete the Fingerprint Record Removal Request (DJ-LE-250B) and submit it to:

Crime Information Bureau,

Attn: Criminal History Unit,

P.O. Box 2718,

Madison, WI 53701-2718

Note that all of the charges listed on the arrest fingerprint submission must have been dismissed or not charged. Also, the removal of non-conviction records from a person’s criminal history does not imply that such information will be removed from the possession of law enforcement agencies, District Attorney, Department of Transportation, and other applicable  agencies.

In addition, a governor’s pardon does not expunge a court record, instead, the court will add a notation to the person’s court record. This indicates that a pardon was granted, but the record of the case will not be sealed and the file will still be accessible on the WCCA portal and at the Court Clerk’s office. Also, a pardon does not remove the record from the Wisconsin Criminal History Repository.

Will My Expungement Record Show up on a Background Check in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, an expungement record for a record that is expunged is completely removed from  the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access (WCCA) portal, and will no longer show up a background check conducted through the WCCA portal. However, the Wisconsin Department of Justice Crime Information Bureau (CIB) maintains a record of all felony and many misdemeanor arrests and convictions, including those that have been expunged. Hence, a background check conducted through the CIB may show an expunged conviction record.

How to Seal a Record in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Statutes § 801.21 outlines the process of filing a motion to seal all or a specified portion of a document not protected by statute. A motion to seal can also be filed to redact specific information contained in a public record.

The Forms, GF-245–247 are available for filing a motion to seal a record. Any of these forms should be completed and filed. The person filing must cite legal authority (such as court rules, statutes, or case law) and other relevant facts, justifying why the information should be removed from public access. The Consolidated Court Automation Programs (CCPA) software automatically fixes form GF-245 under temporary seal when submitted through eFiling. The person filing is required to check the radio button labeled “seal” to seal the documents submitted with the GF-245. Following this, the information will be viewed only by the filer until the court rules on the motion. In addition, the motions to seal, GF-246A and GF-247A, and their orders, GF-246B and GF-247B, are accessible to the public.

The court determines if it is necessary to hold a hearing on a motion to seal or redact a court record. If a hearing will be held, the court may require the moving party to provide notice to the general public by posting such information at the courthouse or other location, including the time, date, and location of the hearing. During the hearing, the court will determine whether there are justifiable reasons to seal the record in accordance with applicable statutory, constitutional, and common law.

If the court seals or redacts a record, the record will show the name of the court official entering the order and that an order to seal or redact was issued. A record that is redacted or sealed is not accessible to the public, even if admitted as a trial or hearing exhibit unless the court permits access.

Who Can See My Sealed Record in Wisconsin?

Sealed records in Wisconsin are confidential and cannot be accessed by the general public, although sealed records may be open to authorized bodies such as law enforcement agencies, District Attorney, Department of Transportation, and other applicable  agencies, or as required by a court order.

How to Delete Bankruptcy Records in Wisconsin

Bankruptcy records cannot be deleted from a credit report in Wisconsin. The state does not have jurisdiction over credit reporting agencies, instead, these agencies are regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), 6 U.S.C. § 605. Pursuant to FCRA 621(a)(2), a Chapter 7 and 11 bankruptcy record stays on a credit report for a maximum of ten years, while a Chapter 12 and 13 bankruptcy record stays for a maximum of 7 years. Only after these time limits can the records will be deleted. A motion for reconsideration of the order or a notice of appeal can be filed at the United States District Court for bankruptcies where disparities occur.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Bureau of Consumer Protection, Education Division, Washington, D.C. 20580 can also be contacted at (202) 326-2222 for information on reestablishing credit and addressing credit problems. You may also directly contact the credit bureau(s) reporting the information e.g., Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

What are Wisconsin Consumer Protection Laws?

Wisconsin Consumer Protection Laws aim to protect Wisconsin residents from fraudulent business practices and ensure that their consumer rights are not trampled on. The consumer protection laws also ensure that residents do not fall victim to deceptive and unfair trade practices and avoidable financial losses while transacting business in the state. The  Wisconsin WI Department of Consumer Protection avails individuals with the avenue to file complaints with the Department.

In addition, the Wisconsin Privacy Laws ensure that the privacy rights of Wisconsin residents are protected, hence keeping individuals’ sensitive personal information out of the public eye.

How to Delete Lien Records in Wisconsin

A lien record filed at your County Register of Deeds can be deleted by paying off outstanding debts. You may beforehand contact your creditors and try to negotiate for a favorable payment plan or a lower amount. After you make the payment, complete a Wisconsin Release of Lien and have your lien holder sign it in the presence of a notary public. Then file with the County Register of Deeds Office where the original lien claim was filed. If you have proof that the lien is invalid or has expired, you may petition a court in your county to issue a court order to have the lien removed.

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