In this article...

Key Takeaways

• Expungement can be a valuable tool to clear criminal records, but not all crimes are eligible for expungement in Wisconsin.

• Wisconsin's expungement laws are strict, and eligibility is primarily limited to offenses committed by individuals under 25 years old.

• Crimes that carry a maximum sentence of life in prison, violent offenses, weapon crimes, sexual offenses, and domestic abuse are not eligible for expungement in Wisconsin.

• The reason behind prohibiting expungement for these specific crimes may vary, but public safety risk and the severity of the offense are possible factors.

• If an expungement petition is denied, options such as appealing the decision or seeking a pardon from the governor of Wisconsin can be explored, and a criminal law attorney can provide guidance on eligibility and other options for moving forward.

Certain offenses can be cleared from a criminal record through the legal process of expungement. This is a valuable tool that can help individuals move forward from past mistakes and start fresh with employment opportunities and other aspects of daily life affected by their criminal record. While this tool can be life-changing, not all crimes are eligible for expungement. In this article, our Wisconsin expungement attorneys will explore what specific crimes cannot be expunged.

Expungement Eligibility in Wisconsin

It is vital to start with an understanding of what the eligibility requirements are in the state of Wisconsin. Expungement laws in Wisconsin are relatively strict, with a small number of offenses that are actually eligible for expungement. For the most part, expungement is only available for specific offenses committed by individuals under the age of 25.

Expungement of specific Class H and I felonies and misdemeanor offenses are allowed if the person meets other requirements, such as completing any sentence or probation associated with the offense, staying out of legal trouble, and demonstrating rehabilitation efforts and good behavior.  

Crimes That Cannot Be Expunged in Wisconsin

Now that we've established the eligibility requirements for expungement in Wisconsin let's explore the crimes that cannot be expunged. Wisconsin law prohibits the expungement of certain offenses. First off, crimes that carry a maximum sentence of life in prison cannot be expunged. This includes a few serious offenses, such as first-degree intentional homicide, certain sexual assaults, and some types of kidnapping. In addition to that, crimes that are considered violent offenses or involve any use of a dangerous weapon are not eligible for expungement. The last two types of crime that will not be considered for expungement are any sexual offenses or domestic abuse that often overlap with the other types of crime prohibited, like violent and dangerous weapon crimes. For a general overview of how the expungement process works read our article, Wisconsin Expungement - How to Expunge Your Criminal Record in Wisconsin.

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Why These Crimes Cannot Be Expunged

There is no one set reason behind prohibiting expungement for these specific crimes, and it is likely a multifaceted decision. For example, with offenses that carry a maximum sentence of life in prison, it may be the severity of the offense that dictates that expungement is not an appropriate option. For other offenses like domestic abuse or sex crimes, it is possible that lawmakers may believe that the public safety risk of these offenses is too high to allow for expungement. In addition, the requirement that individuals complete their sentence and stay out of legal trouble for a certain period of time may also limit the availability of expungement for certain offenses.

What Happens If Your Expungement Petition Is Denied

There are a few different options available if your expungement petition is denied. It is always wise to explore and find out why your petition was denied. Gathering this information can help you determine whether it is worth your time to appeal the decision or if it is time to explore other options.

If your petition was denied in error, there may be an opportunity to appeal the decision. This will require you to go back to court and present additional evidence or arguments to support your petition. In some instances, a judge might agree to reconsider the court's previous decision and grant your petition further review.

There are other courses of action that can be taken if an appeal does not make sense in your case. One possible option is to seek a pardon from the governor of Wisconsin. A pardon is a formal forgiveness of a crime that can result in a person's criminal record being cleared. Pardons are rare, but they are an alternative to appealing to the court. Even if your petition is denied, there are ways to continue moving forward. It is possible to find employment or housing opportunities depending on the specific offense on your criminal record. Speak with an experienced Wisconsin criminal law attorney to explore your options and eligibility when it comes to expungement opportunities.

May 16, 2023
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