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Kevin O'Flaherty

Understanding the Wisconsin New Expungement Law 2024: A Guide to Your Fresh Start

Imagine being able to wipe the slate clean and start anew, free from the burden of a criminal record that has haunted you for years. The Wisconsin new expungement law 2024, set to take effect, aims to provide thousands of eligible individuals with that very opportunity. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the ins and outs of this groundbreaking legislation, its eligibility criteria, the step-by-step expungement process, potential obstacles, and the crucial role legal assistance plays in expungement cases. Let’s embark on this journey toward a fresh start.

Overview of the 2024 Expungement Law

Wisconsin new expungement law 2024

The 2024 Expungement Law in Wisconsin, authored by Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee) and David Steffen (R-Green Bay), is a proposed amendment to the state's criminal code that seeks to broaden eligibility for the expungement of prior criminal records and provide individuals with the opportunity for a new beginning. This progressive legislation, which includes crucial amendments, aims to not only provide a fresh start for qualified individuals but also to help law enforcement focus on more serious criminal activity under Wisconsin criminal laws, as outlined in the Wisconsin statutes.

The law encompasses several fundamental changes, including expanded eligibility criteria, streamlined processes, and increased awareness of expungement opportunities. The primary objectives of the law are to remove impediments to employment for individuals with criminal records, institute an automated expungement process for certain offenses, and broaden job and housing opportunities for those with criminal records. This, in turn, promotes rehabilitation and reduces recidivism rates.

Key Changes

Before 2024, expungement eligibility in Wisconsin was strictly limited to convictions for misdemeanors or non-violent felonies, sentencing that took place when the individual was under 25, and successful completion of the sentence. The 2024 law broadened eligibility by incorporating offenses like traffic crimes, criminal trespass, and violations of a domestic abuse restraining order, which carry different penalties. This substantial modification to the statutes intends to grant more individuals a fresh start after meeting their legal responsibilities related to criminal charges.

Another significant modification is the refinement of the expungement process. The new law mandates the automatic sealing of records for individuals with eligible misdemeanor convictions three years post-release. This eliminates their need to petition for expungement, hence simplifying the process. The law also promotes awareness of expungement opportunities by introducing measures that provide resources for expungement programs and incentivize state and local expungement initiatives, enabling police to focus on more serious crimes.

Purpose of the Law

The 2024 Expungement Law aims to:

  • Diminish the barriers to employment for individuals with criminal records
  • Expand eligibility for expungement of past criminal records
  • Allow those convicted of non-violent, low-level offenses to clear their records

However, it should be noted that severe offenses like homicide are not eligible for expungement under this criminal law. By providing a fresh start and improving prospects of gainful employment, the law aims to facilitate rehabilitation and reduce recidivism rates.

Expungement laws, such as the 2024 Expungement Law, have a considerable influence on access to housing and education. These laws aid those with criminal records by removing or sealing their prior convictions, enhancing their opportunities for obtaining housing and pursuing educational prospects. Expungement enables individuals to surmount the obstacles that criminal records often pose, such as being refused housing or confronting hindrances in accessing education.

Eligibility for Expungement under the 2024 Law

Eligibility for expungement under the 2024 law is contingent upon factors such as the age at the time of the offense, the type of offense committed, and successful completion of the sentence. It's important to note that while the law expands eligibility for many individuals, there are still certain offenses that are ineligible for expungement, including traffic crimes, violating a domestic abuse restraining order, stalking, and criminal trespass.

The eligibility requirements are not limited to a single offense, meaning multiple offenses may be eligible for expungement under the 2024 law in Wisconsin. Additionally, persons with prior convictions are also eligible for expungement under the 2024 law.

Age Requirements

Under the 2024 law, the minimum age requirement for expungement is under the age of 25 at the time of the commission of the offense. However, there are exceptions to the age requirements stipulated in the 2024 Expungement Law. The proposed bill seeks to remove the under-25 age restriction, thus providing expungement opportunities to individuals of all ages.

Age requirements can have a considerable effect on eligibility for different types of offenses and legal consequences. For instance, minimum age requirements for firearm possession or legal consent to sexual activity can vary by state.

In conclusion, age requirements are a significant factor in determining eligibility for different types of offenses and their respective defendants.

Types of Offenses

While the 2024 Expungement Law expands the range of offenses eligible for expungement, it does not cover all types of crimes. Offenses that are not eligible for expungement under the 2024 law include:

  • Offenses that carry a maximum sentence of life in prison
  • Violent offenses
  • Weapon crimes
  • Sexual offenses
  • Domestic abuse

The 2024 Expungement Law classifies offenses for expungement according to eligibility criteria, including juvenile charges, misdemeanor convictions, and dismissal deferrals. Drug offenses, for instance, are eligible for expungement provided specific criteria are satisfied. It is crucial to familiarize yourself with the specific types of offenses eligible for expungement under the 2024 law to understand your potential eligibility.

Completion of Sentence

Eligibility for expungement under the 2024 law requires a specific period to pass after the sentence completion. The length of this period might vary based on the offense's severity. Completion of a sentence under the 2024 Expungement Law refers to the fulfillment of the entire sentence imposed for a crime.

The types of sentences required for expungement eligibility may differ by state. Generally, misdemeanors or minor infractions may be eligible for expungement, though other states may require a period of time without reoffending or a specified number of years since the conviction. It is imperative to review the expungement laws of your state for further details.

Expungement Process: Step by Step

The expungement process can be intricate and lengthy, especially for those who need more clarification with the legal system. The process involves filing a petition with the court, attending a hearing, and fulfilling post-expungement responsibilities. It is essential to understand each step of the process and follow the proper procedures to maximize the chances of a successful outcome.

Given the potential challenges and obstacles that may arise during the expungement process, it is highly recommended to seek legal assistance to guide you through each step, from filing the petition to post-expungement responsibilities. Legal representation can provide expert guidance, assistance with paperwork, and advocacy during court hearings, increasing the likelihood of a successful outcome.

Filing a Petition

Filing a petition for expungement necessitates the following steps:

  1. Fill out the required forms.
  2. Submit the forms to the relevant court.
  3. These forms may vary depending on the jurisdiction and the type of offense you are seeking to expunge.
  4. It is recommended to seek the counsel of a legal professional or access the official government website for comprehensive directions on how to file the petition.

Under the 2024 Law, a fee of $100 is applicable for filing a second expungement petition, with a maximum of two petitions per crime. Be prepared to cover any associated fees when filing your petition to avoid delays or complications in the expungement process.

Court Hearing

During an expungement court hearing, the judge will determine if expungement applies to your case. Factors considered by the judge during the hearing include the jurisdiction of the offense, the nature of the crime, and the individual's fulfillment of their criminal sentence. The prosecutor may also be present at the hearing and dispute the expunction, presenting facts or reasons to support their stance and objecting to the expungement if they deem it to be inappropriate.

It is crucial to be well-prepared for your expungement hearing and to present any evidence or documentation that demonstrates your rehabilitation efforts and positive change since the offense. Having a knowledgeable lawyer by your side during the hearing can be highly beneficial in advocating for your case and addressing any objections or challenges raised by the prosecutor.

Post-Expungement Responsibilities

After expungement, individuals are required to maintain a clean record and adhere to any ongoing court-ordered obligations. Adhering to a clean record after expungement under the 2024 law involves the records being sealed instead of erased. Courts and law enforcement agencies still have access to sealed records, so it is vital to stay informed and maintain compliance with any post-expungement responsibilities.

If there are any immigration matters at hand, it is recommended to seek counsel from an attorney with expertise in immigration law. Navigating post-expungement responsibilities can be complex, and having a knowledgeable lawyer assist you in understanding and adhering to these requirements can be invaluable.

Potential Obstacles and Challenges

Despite the considerable benefits and opportunities offered by the 2024 Expungement Law, individuals pursuing expungement might face various hurdles and challenges along the way. Potential barriers to expungement include opposition from prosecutors and challenges related to incomplete or inaccurate records. It is essential to be aware of these potential hurdles and to prepare accordingly to overcome them.

Seeking legal assistance can play a crucial role in expungement cases, helping individuals navigate the process and overcome potential obstacles. An experienced lawyer can provide valuable guidance, address challenges, and advocate on your behalf, increasing the likelihood of a successful outcome.

Prosecutors' Opposition

Prosecutors may oppose expungement based on the nature of the offense, public safety considerations, and potential statutory or public policy objections. Their opposition can have an impact on the expungement process by providing arguments that may sway the judge's decision.

The nature of the offense can be a factor in a prosecutor's decision to oppose the expungement, particularly if the offense is deemed serious or presents a threat to public safety. It is important to be prepared to address any objections raised by the prosecutor during the court hearing by presenting evidence of your rehabilitation efforts and demonstrating that expungement is in the best interest of public safety.

Incomplete or Inaccurate Records

Incomplete or inaccurate records can complicate the expungement process, potentially leading to the rejection of expungement petitions, delays in the process, incorrect eligibility determinations, and negative impacts on employment and housing opportunities. Common causes of inaccurate or incomplete records include inconsistent maintenance of criminal record data, reporting of inaccurate information, and failure to disclose the entire criminal record.

To address the challenges associated with incomplete or inaccurate records, individuals can seek legal assistance, gather additional documentation to rectify the records, and follow the proper procedures outlined in the 2024 Expungement Law. A qualified attorney can help you navigate these challenges and ensure that your expungement petition is accurate and complete.

The Role of Legal Assistance in Expungement Cases

Legal assistance can play a critical role in successfully navigating the expungement process and overcoming potential challenges. A knowledgeable attorney can provide the following services:

  • Guidance on eligibility criteria
  • Help to gather necessary documentation
  • Filing the petition
  • Representing you in court hearings

With their expertise in navigating complex legal procedures, an attorney can significantly increase the chances of a successful expungement.

With legal representation, individuals may find it easier to understand the legal requirements and procedures involved in expungement, which may lead to mistakes or missed opportunities. Therefore, investing in legal assistance can be a valuable asset in your pursuit of a fresh start under the new Wisconsin Expungement Law.

Benefits of Legal Representation

Legal representation in expungement cases brings numerous benefits. A proficient attorney can offer expert guidance throughout the process, including:

  • Evaluating eligibility
  • Assembling necessary documents
  • Filing the petition
  • Representing you in court hearings

Their professional expertise, including that of police officers, can help you navigate the complex legal system and ensure compliance with procedural requirements, increasing the likelihood of a successful outcome.

Moreover, legal representation can be particularly valuable in addressing potential obstacles and challenges during the expungement process, such as opposition from prosecutors or issues with incomplete or inaccurate records. A skilled attorney can help you overcome these hurdles and advocate on your behalf, ensuring that your case is presented in the best possible light.

Finding a Qualified Lawyer

Searching for a proficient lawyer with experience in expungement cases can be accomplished via online directories, referrals, or complimentary consultation services. Additionally, seeking referrals from friends, family, or professional contacts can also be an effective way to find a trusted Wisconsin attorney with a proven track record in expungement cases.

It is essential to evaluate a lawyer's experience in expungement cases before making a decision. Here are some steps to help you find the right attorney:

  1. Consult online directories and legal websites.
  2. Read reviews from former clients.
  3. Reach out to local bar associations or legal organizations to gain insight into the attorney's expertise.

The right attorney can make all the difference in your pursuit of a fresh start under the Wisconsin Expungement Law.


The 2024 Wisconsin Expungement Law offers a unique opportunity for eligible individuals to start anew, free from the burden of past criminal records. With expanded eligibility criteria, streamlined processes, and increased awareness of expungement opportunities, this groundbreaking legislation aims to promote rehabilitation and reduce recidivism. By understanding the eligibility requirements, navigating the expungement process, and seeking the assistance of a qualified attorney, you can seize this opportunity and embark on a journey toward a brighter future.

Frequently Asked Questions

What types of offenses are eligible for expungement under the 2024 Wisconsin Expungement Law?

Under the 2024 Wisconsin Expungement Law, eligibility for expungement is extended to a wide range of offenses, excluding only violent, weapon, sexual, and domestic abuse-related crimes.

What are the age requirements for expungement under the 2024 law?

Under the 2024 law, individuals of all ages can be eligible for expungement, removing the current age restriction of under 25 at the time of offense.

How long does the expungement process typically take?

The expungement process can typically take up to a month, though the timeline may vary depending on the jurisdiction and the offense.

What are the potential obstacles and challenges in the expungement process?

Potential obstacles in the expungement process include opposition from prosecutors, incomplete or inaccurate records, and procedural complexities. Seeking legal assistance can help overcome these hurdles to increase the likelihood of success.

Why is legal representation important in expungement cases?

Legal representation is essential for a successful expungement, providing expert guidance, assistance with paperwork, and advocacy during court hearings. With an attorney, individuals may find it easier to navigate the legal requirements and procedures involved, potentially leading to mistakes or missed opportunities.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

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