What’s the Difference Between a Removal of a Record and Expunging a Record?

If you were arrested, charged, or convicted of a criminal offense, you know the toll it can take on your life.  After an arrest, your focus likely shifts to the potential prospect of a prison sentence. If you are convicted of the charges levied against you, you have no choice but to satisfy the penalties that the court imposes.

After returning to society, you may hope that life can return, more or less, to normal. Unfortunately, that expectation may be wishful thinking. Criminal charges and/or convictions can make it difficult for you to get a job, rent an apartment, and can limit your child custody rights. Criminal convictions can ruin relationships and make it extremely difficult for people to make a fresh start in life.

These ramifications may be referred to as “collateral consequences.” The law in many states allows individuals who were convicted of certain crimes to have their records sealed or expunged. In Wisconsin, your choices are to have your record removed or expunged.

What Is the Difference Between Removal and Expungement?

Unfortunately, you may have gotten caught up in the criminal justice system. Even a minor conviction can follow you around for the rest of your life.

If you were arrested but never convicted, you could ask to have the arrest record removed from your file. If a record is removed from your file, it can’t be used for impeachment at a later trial or for enhanced sentencing later on. Employers can’t use a removed record to deny your employment.

You are eligible to have your arrest information removed if the charges were dismissed, not prosecuted, you were found not guilty, you were acquitted by a court, or you were released without charges being filed. In some cases, removal will be automatic.

Once the Wisconsin Department of Justice (WI DOJ) removes your arrest record from its files, they’ll also notify the FBI for them to remove the record from their files if the arrest information was reported to that agency. The WI DOJ’s removal has no effect on court or police records; your arrest information will still be there, and law enforcement and courts will be able to access it.

In Wisconsin, to have a record expunged, you must have committed a crime that is eligible for expungement. Expungement is typically used with younger offenders under the age of 25 who have committed a misdemeanor or first minor, non-violent felony.

If the crime does not carry a sentence of more than six years, you have successfully completed the terms of the sentence, and you were under the age of 25 when the crime was committed, you may be eligible to have your crime expunged from the record. However, in Wisconsin, you and your attorney must request expungement at the time of sentencing to be eligible. Expungement cannot be attempted later than that.

When a record is expunged in Wisconsin, the court record is sealed but not removed from the Wisconsin criminal history repository. A conviction means that the arrest is not qualified to be removed from the file. Even though your record is expunged, it might still show up on a background check.

How an Experienced Attorney Can Help

It is never too early to get the criminal defense team from Hart Powell, S.C. on your side. We have helped countless clients successfully resolve difficult legal situations. An experienced criminal attorney will also investigate the charges that have been brought against you.

To prepare their case, they interview witnesses, review official reports and examine the physical evidence. Police investigations do the same thing with the intent of getting evidence to use against you. Your defense attorney’s investigation has the goal of protecting your rights.

An experienced criminal attorney understands your rights and recognizes when those rights are being violated. They are your voice in the courtroom and work hard to choose an objective jury that will properly evaluate the evidence set before them.

Your experienced attorney can also make sure to request an expungement at the time of sentencing to help get your charges expunged from the criminal justice system. This can help ease the burden of poor choices you may have made in the past and smooth your path to making better choices.

The collateral consequences that you experience after a jail or prison sentence can be burdensome. An experienced criminal attorney can walk you through your current choices and increase the potential that your conviction will be expunged.

Contact Hart Powell, S.C. Today to Schedule a Confidential Consultation

The Milwaukee criminal defense attorneys at Hart Powell, S.C. are dedicated to representing our clients. Whether you were accused or charged in federal or state criminal matters, our attorneys can represent you in several states.

We recognize that protecting your rights in this criminal charge also influences the future of your family, reputation, and job. When your freedom is at stake, you want the criminal defense attorneys at Hart Powell, S.C. to be standing at your side and fighting for your rights.

Over the decades, we’ve had the honor of protecting good people, and we can help you. Call our office today at (414) 271-9595 to schedule your confidential consultation with a skilled and compassionate criminal defense attorney.

 


How to Be Removed from a Sex Offender Registry

The criminal justice system comes down particularly hard on sex offenders. If you have been convicted of a sex crime, you are just one of roughly 750,000 people who appear simultaneously on the U.S. registry and on the registry detailing the location the offense was committed. About 250,000 of these listees are under supervision for their offenses.

The federal government mandates every state in the union, Washington D.C., U.S. territories, and Indian land, to maintain a sex offender registry. Each jurisdiction has the option to define and expand upon the types of offenses that can categorize people on their roster. Each jurisdiction must also publish its information on the national database. It is possible to find someone on the U.S. Department of Justice National Sex Offender Public Website simply by searching an individual’s name and/or where they reside.

Knowing that virtually anyone can search the internet to find out if you have committed a sex crime can be upsetting. Perhaps, in your case, you may feel that it is unfair. However, if you are placed on a registry, you’ll want to clear your name if at all possible. Employment, loan approval, the freedom to live where you choose, and the ability to regain your reputation are all reasons to pursue a way to expunge your listing. Each state, territory, and Indian land has its own rules for expungement that vary greatly.

Several factors can impact the success of removing your name from a registry, including:

  • The severity of the crime
  • The length of the required waiting period after serving a sentence or parole
  • The age at which you committed the offense
  • Out of state convictions
  • If the conviction is revoked, set aside, canceled, or pardoned
  • The likelihood of your committing sex offenses in the future
  • A record of other offenses you may have committed

How To Have Your Name Removed from a Sex Offender Registry

Certain criteria must be met before you file a petition with the court to remove your name from a sex offender registry. Each jurisdiction (state, territory, and Indian land) has several classification levels, or tiers, that correspond to the various kinds of sex offenses. They also establish time periods, usually several years, that must elapse before a petitioner can file. The most serious sex crimes often require a lifetime registry, in which case, no petition is allowed.

Once you have satisfied your state’s registry requirements related to your offense, you can petition the court to expunge your name from the registry. Some, but not all, states have do-it-yourself petition forms that you can use. If the court denies the expungement, you may be able to file your petition again at a later date. If you succeed in having your name deleted from the state, territory, or Indian land registry, it will also be removed from the federal registry.

Once you have satisfied the sex offender requirements for the geographic location where you committed the offense, you may decide that you need legal help in order to file a petition. If so, seek out an attorney who has experience handling this type of legal procedure.

In the meantime, there are some measures you can take to strengthen your petition, such as:

  • Seek the help of a psychiatrist, psychologist, or behavioral therapist to diagnose and treat your propensity to commit sex offenses.
  • Attend classes or participate in a therapy group that helps sex offenders to recognize and deal with the triggers for committing illicit acts.
  • Strive to obtain a document from a medical or psychological professional who has treated you stating that you are not a danger to society.
  • Get and keep a steady job.
  • Enroll in a college or vocational school or earn your high school diploma.
  • Keep your record clear of any additional illegal activities, even traffic tickets.
  • Follow the rules for updating your listing as mandated by your place of the registry

A seasoned attorney can help guide you through the process of expungement and the proof you’ll need to clear your name.

The Attorneys at Hart Powell, S.C. Can Help Get Your Name Removed from the Sex Offender Registry

If you choose to seek out an attorney who is knowledgeable in handling sex offender registry expungements, you cannot do better than the legal team at Hart Powell, S.C.. Our Milwauke attorneys are highly experienced with cases on both the state and federal levels, and they are dedicated to obtaining the best results possible for every client.

Our legal professionals are members of the American Association for Justice and have been named Super Lawyers by professional organizations. Our attorneys pride themselves on the trust they build with every client. Call (414) 271-9595 today, or email our team to schedule a consultation.


Can I Get a Job with a Felony Conviction?

While the focus of prison time is often about punishment for wrongdoing, it can be easy to forget that incarceration is intended to be the beginning of an individual’s rehabilitation process. When a person’s prison term ends, they get a fresh start so that they can begin re-integrating into their communities. Much of the time, this process includes finding a job to earn a living and become a productive member of society.

Yet those who have served time for committing felonies may feel overwhelmed by the prospect of attempting to join the workforce again after their sentences are complete. It can be difficult to find gainful employment even without a criminal history. However, having a felony conviction on your record does not mean that you have no chance of getting a job. On the contrary, there are many employment opportunities available to those who have been incarcerated.

Background Checks with Priors

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) offers a set of guidelines that help employers decide whether an applicant’s prior offense record might make the person an unreasonable risk for the employer to take. Before rejecting a potential employee with a criminal record entirely, an employer needs to consider:

  • The amount of time that has passed since the offense occurred or the sentence was issued,
  • The gravity and the nature of the criminal conduct or offense, and
  • The nature of the job itself, such as how much interaction the employee will have with other people, how much time they will spend working independently, and where the job is performed.

With these factors in mind, there are certain jobs that can be difficult if not impossible to get if you have a criminal history, including those in the fields of childcare, medicine, the police force, or the military.

Wisconsin Law on the Use of Criminal Records

An employer in Wisconsin has the right to choose not to hire a person based on their criminal record in the following instances:

  • The applicant has a pending arrest charge, and that charge relates substantially to the job.
  • The applicant has a conviction that relates substantially to the job.
  • The applicant is applying for specific types of positions, including burglar alarm installation or private detective.

Additionally, Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development advises employers to make one of the following decisions if an applicant has a pending arrest charge that relates to the job:

  • Suspend judgment until the case has been resolved.
  • Advise the applicant to apply again after the charges have been cleared up.
  • Refuse to hire the applicant.

The EEOC also requires employers to give applicants an opportunity to explain the circumstances regarding their criminal history before the employer can completely exclude them from the job opportunity.

Tips for a Successful Job Search

While those with criminal histories may have a few more challenges than others when looking for work, there are a few things to keep in mind that can make things a bit easier.

  • Be Honest About Your History – While applying or interviewing for a position, do not attempt to hide your felony conviction. They will find out about it during the background check phase, and many potential employers will take that as a sign of dishonesty. Be upfront about your circumstances and help them understand that you are ready to move beyond your previous mistakes.
  • Apply to Small Businesses – Often, larger companies have a blanket policy covering multiple jurisdictions that bars anyone with a conviction from working there. Smaller businesses can make their hiring policies more suitable to the local markets they are serving. In the hiring process, such establishments are more likely to see you as a human being with a unique set of talents and knowledge rather than as a set of data.
  • Have Your Record Expunged – In the state of Wisconsin, it is possible to have some felonies expunged from your criminal record. After an expungement, your criminal history would not turn up on background checks for your potential employers. There are several restrictions on the types of felonies that could be expunged and the circumstances in which expungement is possible, but an experienced criminal lawyer will be able to advise you on all aspects of the process in your case.

Contact Us Today

If you were convicted of a felony in the past and are currently looking for employment, the Milwaukee criminal defense lawyers of Hart Powell, S.C. can help. Whether you are looking for an expungement or simply for advice on how best to communicate with potential employers, contact us today at (414) 271-9595 for a confidential consultation.


What Is the Difference Between a Federal and a State Charge? 

There are generally two different types of charges that a person can face. These charges are either state charges or federal charges. Distinguishing between the two can be challenging. Each state has the power to dictate its own code of laws prohibiting criminal behavior. Since each state has jurisdiction over its legal code, the penalties for certain crimes can vary from state to state.

The federal government also has the authority to police crimes. Congress can pass laws that govern issues of national interest, crimes that occur across state lines, and crimes that happen on federally owned property. While it might not seem like an important distinction to make, differentiating between state and federal crimes is vital. Federal crimes tend to carry significantly more stringent penalties. Being convicted of a federal crime can also have long-reaching consequences.

At Hart Powell, S.C., we want you to understand what you are up against if you are facing criminal charges. Knowledge is power. We want to arm you with information to prepare you for what’s ahead. What are the differences between state and federal charges, and how can these differences impact you? We have the answers.

What Are the Differences Between State and Federal Charges?

state vs federal crimesMost criminal cases involve violations of state law. Crimes like murder, rape, kidnapping, theft, assault, and burglary are examples of state crimes. States each have a code that dictates how these violations are prosecuted and punished. State lawmakers have the power to make and regulate their laws.

Federal charges are different. Federal lawmakers only have jurisdiction over crimes that impact the national interest or involve activities that cross more than one state. Congress has the power to pass these laws, and the President of the United States has the ultimate authority to delegate law enforcement tasks to federal agencies. Bodies responsible for investigating federal violations include the FBI, Secret Service, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Most Common Types of Federal Crimes

There are hundreds of different federal crimes listed under Title 18 of the United States Code. However, the most common federal crimes involve the following:

A state crime can also become a federal crime under certain circumstances. Murder is generally a state crime. However, if a murder occurs in a national forest, the charges can be elevated to a federal crime. It is now a federal charge because the crime itself has allegedly taken place on federal property. Kidnapping is a state crime. Yet a person can face federal charges if they transport a kidnapping victim across state lines.

Which Charges Are More Serious?

criminal penaltiesIn general, federal charges tend to be much more serious and carry stiffer penalties. Penalties are often more severe because as the federal government sees it, committing a federal crime means that a person is a danger to the national interest. Penalties can include longer prison terms, more significant fines, and statutory penalties. If a person is convicted of a state crime, they may face jail time. Convictions at the federal level mean prison, not jail.

Also, keep in mind that federal charges mean the federal government has jurisdiction over the case. If a person is facing federal charges, they are potentially being investigated by the FBI or Department of Homeland Security. These are organizations with immense resources at their disposal. Federal prosecutors are also very aggressive and can be challenging to go up against.

If you are charged with a federal crime, you need to secure the assistance of an equally aggressive and experienced defense attorney. Defending against federal charges can be much different from defending someone against state charges. You need to turn to a defense attorney with extensive experience handling federal cases.

Contact an Experienced Defense Attorney Today

Whether you are facing state charges, federal charges, or both, you need a skilled defense attorney on your side immediately. At Hart Powell, S.C., we are ready to jump in with both feet and get started preparing a strong defense strategy tailored to the unique circumstances of your case.

Prosecutors are already hard at work preparing their case against you. Don’t put yourself at a disadvantage. Secure a strong defense lawyer now. Contact the Milwaukee criminal defense lawyers of Hart Powell, S.C. today by calling (414) 271-9595 and setting up a consultation.

 


Five Ways to Avoid an OWI Charge

Everyone loves, and deserves, some downtime after a hard day’s or week’s work. Sometimes, that downtime involves relaxing at home and, sometimes, you want to go out and have a good time with friends or loved ones. It might involve a drink or two. Even attending a party, celebration, or work event may include indulging in libations. And while there’s nothing wrong with responsible drinking, problems can arise when you get behind the wheel of a vehicle after drinking.

You could be pulled over by a police officer and be arrested and charged with OWI, or operating while intoxicated. An OWI conviction for first-time offenders carries a 6-9 month driver’s license suspension, a fine of up to $735, and a one-year requirement to use an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle if your BAC is .15 percent or more. For subsequent OWI charges, you could face a felony conviction which could carry a minimum of four years in prison. Even beyond these penalties, you could face residual social and economic consequences of OWI.

Because the risk to your liberty and future is so high, you should take a lot of care to avoid being charged with OWI. Here are several tips that can help you avoid a potentially devastating mistake.

#1 – Refrain from Drinking

This may seem like the most obvious way to avoid an OWI charge, but it also happens to be the best way. By not drinking when you go out for a night on the town, you can safely drive your car home at the end of the night without risking your life or an arrest by law enforcement. An even better way to make your non-drinking useful is to be the designated driver for any friends or loved ones that you’re with who may be indulging in alcoholic beverages. You’ll be looking out for yourself and those you care about all at the same time.

#2 – Use a Rideshare Service

The rise of rideshare service companies has done more than just offer a major convenience to people across the country. Rideshare companies are a popular option for those who have had a few too many to be taken home safely. Rideshare services like Uber and Lyft have even promoted themselves as safe modes of transportation for those who have indulged in alcoholic beverages. During holidays when drinking is particularly common, like Memorial Day and New Year’s Eve, these rideshare services have offered their services for free or at a significant discount to prevent people from taking the risk of drinking and driving.

#3 – Have a Friend or Loved One Be Your Designated Driver

Similar to using a rideshare service, you could ask a reliable friend, associate, loved one, or someone else you trust to be your designated driver. You can tell them your plans and where you’ll be, and contact them when you’re ready to go home. If they agree to it, you’ll know that you can indulge as you wish without having to worry about how you’ll get home safely.

#4 – Walk to a Nearby Hotel for a Night’s Stay

Sometimes you don’t intend to partake in drinking when you go out. But if you’re planning ahead, and know that alcoholic beverages are going to be served where you’re going, you can book a stay at a nearby hotel or motel for the night. Make sure that the hotel or motel is within walking distance so that you’re still avoiding the need to get behind a wheel to travel there. If you’re drinking with others, perhaps you and one or several of them that you’re particularly close to can walk together and share a room so you’ll all avoid driving while intoxicated.

 #5 – Don’t Go Out Drinking Alone

In the vein of tip #4, it’s a great idea to be with others you trust if you’re planning on having a few drinks. Not only can it be a more enjoyable time, but it could potentially make things safer for you. If you’re out on the town and drinking at a restaurant or bar, for example, you and those you’re with can help hold each other accountable for getting home without driving yourselves.

Call Hart Powell, S.C. if You’ve Been Arrested or Charged with OWI

I’ve you’ve been arrested and/or charged with OWI, you need to hire a defense attorney right away.

An OWI charge is serious, and you could face serious penalties if you’re found guilty of the charge. The Milwaukee criminal defense attorneys of Hart Powell, S.C. have over 30 years of experience representing those who have been charged with misdemeanor and felony crimes, including OWI. Call us today at (414) 271-9595 for a confidential consultation.


What Qualifies as Drug Paraphernalia?

If you were arrested for drug possession or possession of drug paraphernalia, you may feel hopeless and alone. But you don’t have to. The Milwaukee criminal defense attorneys of Hart Powell, S.C. are dedicated to supporting our clients during this difficult time. We represent our clients and protect their rights within the criminal justice system.

Our criminal defense lawyers are licensed to practice before multiple federal, state, and appellate courts. We do everything in our power to protect your rights, representing you aggressively and treating you with respect. We recognize that your freedom is at stake.

If you are facing drug paraphernalia or drug charges, you want an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows best how to protect your rights in the state of Wisconsin. In some cases, other charges may be added, including drug trafficking or distribution. Every charge comes with an additional penalty and may be used solely as a negotiating tactic by the prosecutor.

Possession of Drug Paraphernalia Is Illegal

Most people understand that possession of a controlled substance is illegal in the state of Wisconsin. These controlled substances can include marijuana, heroin, methamphetamine, Rohypnol, ketamine, and cocaine. However, did you also know that simply carrying drug-related paraphernalia is also a crime?

According to the Wisconsin State Legislature, drug paraphernalia is any item that may be used in the growth, production, manufacture, or use of a controlled substance. A conviction of possession of these items comes with imprisonment and a fine of not more than $500.

A police officer may offer to reduce your charges or drop them if you work as an informant for them. This can place you in a dangerous position. They may also inflate your charges, hoping you will not engage an experienced criminal defense attorney.

As long as the prosecution can prove you were planning to use the paraphernalia for its intended use, you can be convicted and go to jail. This can result in your driver’s license being suspended or revoked for up to five years.

The police do not have to find the paraphernalia on your person for it to be in your possession. If it is in your home or car, you are in possession of an illegal object. You can be arrested and charged, even if the object was brought to your home by a friend.

A drug arrest or charge of illegal drug paraphernalia can impact your employment and employment prospects. Employers can access public records through the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access website. Before searching the records, employers are notified that discrimination against an applicant because of an arrest or conviction is a violation of state law.

However, while this is the letter of the law, employers may use the information to filter through a list of applicants. Unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done when big companies or small businesses use a criminal record to filter applicants, save time, and reduce their risk.

Types of Drug Paraphernalia

Wisconsin law identifies drug paraphernalia as objects that are used with the primary intent to:

  • Plant
  • Propagate
  • Cultivate
  • Grow
  • Harvest
  • Manufacture
  • Compound
  • Convert
  • Produce
  • Process
  • Prepare
  • Test
  • Analyze
  • Pack
  • Repack
  • Store
  • Contain
  • Conceal
  • Inject
  • Ingest
  • Inhale

or otherwise introduce a controlled substance into the human body. If you’re found guilty, the charge will be a Class H felony. This raises to a Class E felony if a person over the age of 18 violates the law in the presence of a child who is 14 years or younger.

The list items that are considered drug paraphernalia for individual users can include:

  • Apple pipe
  • Burned spoons
  • Bongs
  • Mirrors
  • Modified cans or bottles
  • Wood or metal pipes
  • Plastic baggies
  • Rolling papers
  • Scales
  • Syringe
  • Aluminum foil
  • Marijuana vaping device

What to Do If You Are Arrested with Drug Paraphernalia

Although Wisconsin lawmakers are discussing legalizing marijuana in the state, it continues to be illegal to be in possession of recreational marijuana or other controlled substances. Possession and use of an illegal drug carries charges and penalties that can vary depending on the amount of drug and what is in your possession. If you are convicted, your sentence can also depend on your criminal history and other convictions that may have been handed down at the same time.

If you are arrested on a drug paraphernalia charge, it is crucial that you have an experienced Wisconsin criminal defense attorney to represent and protect your rights. The attorneys at Hart Powell, S.C. have decades of experience in criminal law.

Each of the lawyers on our legal team is dedicated to aggressively and tenaciously representing you. It’s our goal to help make sure that your arrest does not define your future. You might be concerned that hiring a lawyer immediately after an accusation may make you look guilty. However, without legal representation, you may inadvertently say something that negatively affects your case.

Get Help Today

Call our compassionate and experienced legal team today at (414) 271-9595 to schedule your confidential consultation. We’ll review the facts in your case and advise you on your next best steps.


Can I Get a Felony Expunged?

A criminal conviction can have a significant impact on your life. There are professional and personal consequences after you’re found guilty of a criminal act. You may face jail time or fines and will have the crime on your permanent public record.

So, long after your jail time is served, the criminal conviction can factor into your professional opportunities. For example, even a minor offense can affect a nursing license, pilot’s license, security clearances, your ability to keep your current job, and your right to own a firearm.

Criminal charges and convictions can also affect your child custody rights and increase your risk of post-traumatic stress disorder. Discrimination may affect your reputation and your ability to get a new job. Each of these is a good reason for seeking expungement of a felony conviction.

What Is a Felony?

If you’re charged with a crime, it may be a misdemeanor or a felony. A misdemeanor is a less serious crime with shorter jail sentences and fewer fines. For example, if your blood alcohol level is over the limit and you get pulled over for OWI, you may be charged with a misdemeanor. However, if there are children in the car or your alcohol level is severely over the limit, you could face a felony charge.

Felony convictions usually result in a prison sentence of at least one year or longer. There is an element of violence, and the crimes tend to be considered harmful or dangerous. When serving your sentence, people with felony convictions are assigned to the state prison system rather than county jail.

There are nine classes of felonies in Wisconsin. They are labeled by letters from A to I and classified by the seriousness of the offense. For example, class A felonies are the most serious and have the most severe punishment, including life in prison.

Class H felonies in Wisconsin are punishable by up to six years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000 or both. Class H felonies can include your fourth charge of operating while intoxicated (OWI) or your second OWI charge while causing injury. Also included are false imprisonment, felony bail jumping, and aggravated battery with great bodily harm.

Class I felonies in Wisconsin are punishable by up to 3.5 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 for both. Examples of a Class I felony include destruction of property worth more than $2,500, possession of marijuana with intent to sell, threatening stalking, aggravated battery causing substantial bodily harm, or arson of property other than a building.

What Is Expungement and Who Is Eligible?

Wisconsin law allows criminal records for an adult to be expunged in limited circumstances. This means that the record is either erased or sealed. If the court does expunge your record, any potential employer cannot consider that record even if it’s related to the job you’re applying for.

It is not uncommon for the court to issue expungement orders in juvenile court proceedings. This is not forgiveness (legal pardon) for committing the crime. Likewise, a pardon does not mean that the criminal record was expunged. Expungement proceedings happen in State courts and under state law.

The process is reserved for charges for which you were found guilty. However, if you were arrested and released without being charged, you may be able to have the arrest removed from your record.

Generally, the more serious the crime, the less likely it is that the court will expunge your record. Some factors will affect the Court’s consideration, including:

  • If you were a minor when the crime was committed
  • The time that’s passed since conviction or arrest
  • If you completed all court-ordered requirements

Those who are eligible to have their arrests or convictions expunged under Wisconsin law are people who have committed certain Class H or I felonies if they were under the age of 25 and after they completed their sentence. A juvenile may also make a request after they reach the age of 17.

However, while the court may expunge the record, there will continue to be a record of the conviction in the Wisconsin criminal history repository that may be found during a background check.

If you are arrested and fingerprinted, but later released without any charge or cleared of the offense, then Wisconsin law allows for removal of that fingerprint from the record.

What Can Be Expunged or Sealed in Wisconsin?

Under Wisconsin law, records are permitted to be expunged after a person was found guilty and when the sentence has been completed. Only misdemeanors and Class H or Class I felonies are permitted to be expunged. If you were convicted before July 1, 2009, the conviction can only be expunged if you were under 21 when you committed the offense, and then only if you were convicted of a misdemeanor.

Under the current law, expungement decisions must be made at the time of sentencing. This has been challenged and upheld in court. If your expungement is granted, the court records are destroyed.

If you were arrested, charged, and convicted of a misdemeanor or Class H or Class I felony, and would like to have your record expunged, contact the Milwaukee criminal defense attorneys of Hart Powell, S.C. at (414) 271-9595 today. You can also contact us using our online form to schedule a confidential consultation about your case.


How to Avoid a Marijuana Possession Charge

Marijuana doesn’t have the same stigma that it did decades ago. It’s used recreationally all across the world, including in some states in the U.S. However, in the U.S., marijuana is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug in the Controlled Substances Act. This means it’s not approved for medicinal use. Still, some states have either legalized marijuana use and possession, approved it for medicinal use, or reduced penalties for marijuana possession. In Wisconsin, marijuana possession, manufacturing, or distributing are all still illegal.

If you’ve been arrested or charged with marijuana possession, you have rights, and they should be protected. A marijuana possession charge can negatively impact your life. It can affect your employment prospects and damage your reputation. You need legal representation to help mitigate the potential consequences to your life and liberty. The attorneys at Hart Powell, S.C. have successfully defended Wisconsin citizens against marijuana possession charges for decades. Call us at (414) 271-9595 today or complete our contact form online to schedule your consultation.

Consequences of a Marijuana Possession Charge in Wisconsin

There are several different penalties for drug possession in Wisconsin depending on the drug the accused possessed at the time of arrest and whether it was the accused’s first or second offense.

If you’ve been arrested for marijuana possession for the first time, it is a misdemeanor, and you may be fined up to $1,000 and/or could face imprisonment of up to 6 months. If this is your 2nd marijuana possession offense or if you’ve been convicted of any drug crime in any state in the U.S., it is a Class I felony. The penalties for a Class I felony are a fine of up to $10,000 and/or up to 3.5 years in prison.

Sometimes, marijuana possession charges are combined with other drug crimes. In Wisconsin, you can be charged with possession of either synthetic or natural marijuana with the intent to distribute, manufacture or deliver. This charge is either a Class E, Class F, Class G, Class H, or Class I felony. The amount in grams of marijuana found on your body or property determines which class felony the charge is. The penalties for this can range from a minimum of a $10,000 fine and/or 3.5 years of confinement to a maximum of a $50,000 fine and/or up to 15 years in prison.

The complexity of state and federal marijuana possession laws makes it harder for you to fight these charges alone. You need an attorney who understands the law to defend you.

How to Avoid Being Charged with Marijuana Possession

With more widespread societal acceptance of marijuana for medicinal use or for recreation and the legalization of marijuana in bordering states, it’s possible to catch a marijuana possession charge unintentionally. There are a few things to keep in mind to try to avoid falling victim to this a serious and consequential possession charge.

If you drive a vehicle and travel with others, take care that any passengers in your vehicle do not possess any marijuana or marijuana paraphernalia on their person. You could be charged with marijuana possession if the marijuana is found in a car that you are driving and/or that is registered to you. While a skilled attorney at Hart Powell, S.C. could potentially argue and prove that the marijuana was not yours, there’s no guarantee.

Additionally, just because another state has legalized marijuana, that doesn’t mean you can possess it outside of that state, particularly in Wisconsin. When a state has legalized marijuana, a person living in that state can still be charged with federal drug possession if, for example, they were found with marijuana at a national park or federal government property. Additionally, if you cross state lines to purchase marijuana in Illinois or Michigan — two states in which marijuana is legal — and bring it back to Wisconsin, you could still face a marijuana possession charge if you’re caught with the drug on your person or in your property.

Call Hart Powell, S.C. Right Away for Help

A marijuana possession charge is serious. It can stick to you and affect different areas of your life for a considerable time. You need a skilled attorney who understands the intricacies of Wisconsin’s drug laws, particularly as they pertain to marijuana, and has a proven track record of diligently fighting for the protection of their client’s rights.

The attorneys at Hart Powell, S.C. have successfully helped their clients fight marijuana possession charges, and we can help you, too. Call us today at (414) 271-9595 to schedule a consultation. Let us review your case and advise you about your options.


How to Beat a DUI

We’ve all seen the commercials, the online ads, the digital signs floating above the highway reading: “Don’t drink and drive.” But sometimes, things happen.

If you’ve been arrested or charged with driving under the influence or operating while intoxicated (DUI/OWI), you need the help of an experienced attorney. Having a DUI/OWI on your record can have devastating consequences for your future. The attorneys at Hart Powell, S.C. have experience in helping clients fight DUI/OWI charges. Call (414) 271-9595 today to schedule a consultation.

Consequences of a DUI/OWI Charge in Wisconsin

A driving or operating a vehicle while under the influence charge or arrest is a serious matter. The consequences of this charge can be cumbersome, expensive, and detrimental to both your quality of life and liberty. A DUI charge (called OWI in Wisconsin’s laws, but also called DWI) can damage your personal and professional reputation, your ability to obtain employment, and even your ability to drive if your license gets suspended. This type of charge can even, in specific instances, affect your ability to have custody or visitation with your child or children.

The consequences of a DUI have a cumulative effect. Some people may be charged once with a DUI and exercise extreme caution in order to prevent it from happening again. But because of the issue of addiction to alcohol and other substances, some people get multiple DUI charges. Since the risk of harm to others and damage to property is high, the law provides increasing penalties for those who are charged with multiple, successive DUIs.

In Wisconsin, there are varying penalties for OWI (or DUI/DWI) charges based on the accused’s history of OWI charges. Here are a few penalty guidelines for OWIs:

  • For a 1st offense, 2nd offense with no OWI charge in the previous ten years, and no history of an OWI charge causing bodily harm or death, the penalty is a fine of $585-$735 and license suspension for 6-9 months.
  • For a 2nd offense within ten years of the previous offense, penalties include five days to six months in jail, license revocation of 12-18 months, and fines of $350 to $1100. The fines can be increased, depending on the BAC of the driver. After 45 days, a hardship license can be issued, along with an ignition interlock device.
  • For a 3rd offense, the penalty is a fine of $1050-$2,435, 45 days to a year of confinement plus an additional 2-3 of license suspension, and be required to use an ignition interlocking device or participate in a sobriety program for 1-4 years.
  • A 10th OWI charge is a Class E felony, for which the fine may be up to $50,435 and 4-15 years in prison.

Because of the serious and life-altering consequences, you need an experienced attorney to help you fight your DUI charge. Hart Powell, S.C. is here to help.

How You Can Beat a DUI/OWI Charge

The attorneys at Hart Powell, S.C. have successfully defended clients who have been charged with DUIs/OWIs. We will devise a legal strategy based on the facts of your individual case. We will conduct our own thorough investigation and examine the evidence and look for certain aspects of your case that may raise doubt as to the validity of your DUI charge and/or prove your innocence. These factors could include the following:

  • Accuracy of breath analyzers or blood results – Breath analyzers are used to determine your blood alcohol concentration level at the time of use. However, breath analyzers can be inaccurate. There can be issues with the machine and its calibration, the officer may have used it improperly when they tested you, or the machine could have detected other substances on your breath that have the same molecular structure as alcohol. Likewise, if the blood test was improperly handled or the results were contaminated, doubts can be raised about the test’s validity.
  • Timing – If there is any delay in the blood test being administered, it can raise questions as to the validity of the test. This is because your BAC could have risen from the time you were pulled over and when you took the test. A DUI is based on your BAC at the time you were driving.
  • Legality of the Stop – Law enforcement must follow the law when it comes to traffic stops. For example, if you were subjected to an illegal search and seizure when you were stopped for a DUI for marijuana or other controlled substances, we will fight to suppress any evidence found in that search. We will review the officer’s arrest report of the stop to find any holes or any evidence that the officer may have misstepped.

Call Hart Powell, S.C. Today

The Wisconsin DUI/OWI attorneys at Hart Powell, S.C. are skilled and experienced in crafting strong defenses for DUI charges. We’ve worked for decades providing outstanding criminal defense for our clients. If you’ve been charged with a DUI, you need an attorney that can fight for you. Call (414) 271-9595 to schedule a consultation or contact us online.


Written by Michael Hart & Craig Powell

Last Updated : February 23, 2022