Are Criminal Records Public In Wisconsin?
Under the Wisconsin Public Records Law, adult criminal records in the state are considered public records. They may be accessed publicly, provided the relevant fee is paid as established by the Wisconsin legislature. Individuals are allowed to request personal criminal records, while employers may also obtain current or potential employees’ criminal histories.
However, criminal records that have been expunged are prohibited from public access. Wisconsin juvenile records are restricted by statute and are only available online for daycare background checks. To conduct a daycare background check, the requestor must have a valid Facility ID number assigned by the Department of Children and Families.
What Is Included In A Criminal Record In Wisconsin?
A criminal record contains a comprehensive listing of an individual’s criminal history. Criminal data contained in a Wisconsin criminal record is as sourced and compiled from all local, county, and state jurisdictions. These include courts, law enforcement departments, and state correctional facilities.
The details of a Wisconsin criminal record include:
- The full name of the record’s subject (including known aliases)
- Biographical information such as date of birth, nationality/ethnicity, and sex
- Details of arrest and any other outstanding warrant
- Fingerprints and Mugshot
- Physical descriptors such as tattoos
- Previous charges
- Conviction details
- Accusations and pending dispositions
- Jail details
- Bail and bond details
How To Look Up My Criminal Records In Wisconsin?
Individuals may look up their criminal records at the Wisconsin Department of Justice. Criminal history in Wisconsin is centrally maintained and provided by the DOJ through its Criminal History Unit (CHU). The CHU collates criminal records of Wisconsin citizens from the district attorney or prosecutor, clerk of court, municipal court, and law enforcement, and correctional agencies.
Hence, requestors may place a request for a personal criminal record by submitting a completed Wisconsin Criminal History DJ-LE–250 form. The requestor must provide all the required data in an authentic form. The subject’s full name, sex, race, and date of birth are required information that must be provided on the form. Providing other identifying information such as social security number, maiden name, or additional names is not mandatory but may be provided to facilitate a more accurate search. Requestors should select “Non-profit” under the requestor type and “General information” under the request purpose for a single name record request.
Mail the completed form, $12 payment, and a self-addressed stamped return envelope to:
WI Division of Law Enforcement Services
Crime Information Bureau, Record Check Unit
PO Box 2688
Madison WI 53701–2688
The average processing time for a criminal history record check is 7–10 days. Note that fees apply even if a record is not found.
For persons seeking to obtain a fingerprint-based criminal history record, submit a set of fingerprints along with the DJ-LE–250 form. Fingerprints can be obtained from a local police department or sheriff’s office in Wisconsin. A fingerprint-based criminal record costs $20
Wisconsin also provides requestors with the opportunity to look up criminal records through the Wisconsin Online Record Check System (WORCS) portal of the DOJ. Criminal record checks via the WORCS portal attract a fee.
How Can I Get My Criminal Records For Free In Wisconsin?
Official criminal records in Wisconsin may be obtained at a nominal fee through the Criminal History Unit or online through the Wisconsin Online Records Check System. There are no provisions for waivers for the processing fee.
How To Search Criminal Records Online In Wisconsin?
The Wisconsin Department of Justice via the Criminal History Unit provides an online portal where the public may request criminal history record information. The online portal, known as the Wisconsin Online Record Check System (WORCS),, provides information on adult criminal records. To obtain a criminal record online through the WORCS, follow this procedure:
- Visit the WORCS portal. For unauthorized users, select “Public Access.”
- Select the “Submit New Request” option under “New Background Request.”
- Select “General” under the Background Check Request option and provide required details such as last name, first name, gender, race, and date of birth. Optional details include the middle initials and social security number.
- On the “Apply Payment” page, select “Bill to Account” for persons with a WORCS billing account, or “Online Payment” for persons without a billing account who want to pay online with a credit card.
- Select “View Results” on the Payment Status page and proceed to view or print the requested criminal record.
Note that a single search costs $7 on the WORCS portal. The search results display possible matches based on the information provided by the user.
Wisconsin also provides online access to criminal records of sex offenders in the state through the sex offender registry of the state Department of Corrections. Users may find criminal records of sex offenders by name or address search. The portal also allows a search in situations where only the zip code of the offender’s residential area is known.
Public records of Wisconsin circuit courts regarding a criminal defendant may be accessed through the Wisconsin Court System Circuit Court Access (WCCA) portal. The availability of criminal records on the portal varies from county to county. Courts in Wisconsin counties adopted the use of the Circuit Court Case Management System at different times. Older cases on the WCCA portal may also display less information depending on the decision made by a participating court on the conversion or back-loading of old cases.
To find a criminal record through the WCCA portal, users are required to provide the subject’s first and last names. To narrow the search, users may provide other subject details such as the middle name, date of birth, case number, business name (if relevant), or case number. Select the case number from the resulting search list to access the criminal record of the defendant. The WCCA portal also allows users to print records from the case result pages. Note that records obtained from the WCCA may not suffice in place of an actual criminal record.
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that the person resides in or was accused in
Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
How To Get Criminal Records Expunged In Wisconsin?
Under Wisconsin Statute 973.015, eligible Wisconsin citizens with criminal records may be able to have their conviction records expunged. Wisconsin permits the expungement of adult criminal records only in very limited circumstances. The state defines expungement as sealing the entire criminal case file, both paper and electronic, from public access. The public can only access an expunged record by obtaining a court order. When a criminal record has been expunged in Wisconsin, any reference to the record in the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access (WCCA) portal will be removed.
Wisconsin permits expungement if:
- The offense in question was committed before the age of 25
- The maximum penalty for imprisonment was six years or less
- The offense in question is a misdemeanor of Class A, B or C
- The offense in question is a misdemeanor of Class H or I
- The judge states that offense is eligible for expungement
- The petitioner has fully completed the sentence
- The petitioner has not been convicted of another criminal offense since the last conviction
To qualify for expunction in juvenile cases, the juvenile must have satisfactorily satisfied all the conditions of the dispositional order before reaching the age of 17.
For persons with qualifying crimes aged 25 and under, a criminal record may be expunged when the sentence has been satisfactorily concluded. The successful conclusion of a sentence means that the individual has not been convicted of a subsequent offense, has had probation revoked, and the conditions of probation have been satisfied. Subsequently, the individual’s probation agent or correctional institution will send a Certificate of Discharge to the clerk of the circuit court. The probation agent is the Wisconsin agency that supervised the offender during the sentence. In Wisconsin, this duty is usually the responsibility of the probation office. Ex-offenders are advised to check with the court where the conviction occurred to verify if a Certificate of Discharge was ever filed. If none was filed, contact the probation office or the correctional authority to obtain the certificate.
Juvenile adjudications are not accessible on the WCCA portal. However, other law enforcement agencies may still access the records. To have juvenile records expunged, a petition by a juvenile adjudicated delinquent after reaching the age of 17 must be filed with the court using Form JD–1780. The top section of the form is required to be completed by the party seeking the expungement before filing it with the district attorney. The district attorney reviews the form and recommends it for filing with the circuit court in the county where the case was adjudicated.
The court will consider a variety of conditions before acceding to an expungement request. Such conditions include whether a juvenile has fully satisfied all the requirements associated with the dispositional order, whether the individual will benefit from the expunction, and whether granting the request is in the society’s best interest.
Note that Wisconsin citizens with dismissed charges and who were never charged do not qualify for expunction. Expungement requires an individual to have been convicted in a criminal court or adjudicated delinquent in a juvenile court. Persons with dismissed cases or individuals charged with an offense but not found guilty are considered not convicted. Individuals in this category may be able to have certain information removed from their criminal history. The state Crime Information Bureau (CIB) provides a special form for persons with such requests. The removal of non-conviction records from a person’s criminal history does not remove such information from the record in possession of law enforcement agencies, district attorney, department of transportation, and certain other agencies.
A governor’s pardon does also qualify an ex-offender for expungement. Persons who have obtained a governor’s pardon will only have a notation on the case, indicating that a pardon was granted on their court records. The records will not be sealed and are accessible to the WCCA portal and at the clerk of courts office. A criminal record will also not be removed from the Wisconsin Criminal History Repository by a governor’s pardon.
After carefully determining eligibility for expungement, applicants are required to complete the Petition to Expunge Criminal Court Record of Conviction form (Form CR–266).. The form is required to be signed by a notary public. Originals of completed forms must be filed with the circuit court in the county where the matter was adjudicated. Make a copy for distribution to the office of the District Attorney. The petitioner is advised to retain a copy of the application. Note that Form CR–266 is only for non-probation/non-incarceration cases. Persons who have undergone probation or were incarcerated must obtain a separate form (DOC 2678) from the Wisconsin Department of Correction to petition for expungement.
Who Can See My Expunged Record Criminal Record In Wisconsin?
Even though expungement clears criminal conviction records from the WCCA portal, it remains on the DOJ’s database. Wisconsin’s expungement law does not mandate law enforcement agencies and prosecutors to remove criminal records from the agencies’ databases. It implies that while expunged criminal records may no longer be accessed through the state court website, law enforcement agencies still have full access to them. Any employer who performs a background check through the Crime Information Bureau (CIB) can access expunged records.
Therefore, Wisconsin citizens with criminal records may still face restrictions in certain circumstances, such as in employment applications. A Wisconsin criminal record may affect ex-offenders’ employment prospects by limiting the kind of jobs they can pursue. The state expungement law places some restrictions on ex-offenders’ rights to obtain a license for certain professions, accessing small business loans and grants, obtaining financial aid for higher education, and getting housing assistance.
In some situations, certain professional licensing restrictions are mandatory on ex-offenders in Wisconsin. In others, the restriction may be discretionary. Professional licenses are not available to some or all ex-offenders in the following categories:
- Physical Therapist
- Physician (medicine)
- Registered Nurse
- X-ray Technician
- Certified Public Accountant
- Interior Designer
- Home inspector
- Real Estate Appraiser
- School Bus Driver