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.

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.

Written by Michael Hart & Craig Powell

Last Updated : February 23, 2022