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Can a Conviction be Expunged?

People convicted of crimes may be interested in determining if their conviction can be “expunged” after they have successfully carried out their sentence.[1] The answer depends on (1) how old the person was at the time the crime was committed, (2) what the person was convicted of and (3) whether or not the person requested, at the time they were initially sentenced, that they should be eligible for expungement if they successfully completed their sentence.[2]

Generally speaking, only people who were under the age of 25 at the time the crime was committed are eligible for expungement. Persons who were 25 or older when the crime occurred are not eligible for expungement.

Insofar as the conviction itself is concerned, expungement is only available to people convicted of misdemeanors and felonies “for which the maximum period of imprisonment is 6 years or less…” Practically speaking, this means expungement might be available to people convicted of misdemeanors or class H or I felonies.

If the conviction was for a misdemeanor or class H or I felony, the next question is whether or not the Judge granted the opportunity for expungement at the time the person was sentenced for the crime at issue. If the Judge did indeed grant the opportunity for expungement upon successful completion of the sentence, then that person is eligible for expungement after they have successfully completed their sentence.

So while expungement is potentially available to certain people who have committed certain crimes, there are legal requirements which need to be met and, as is always the case, people charged with breaking the law are always well advised to seek the guidance of a criminal defense attorney early in their case so they can understand the options that are (or are not) available to them.

[1] The term “expungement” is commonly used, but the more appropriate term is actually “expunction.”

[2] See Wis. Stat. § 973.015