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Assembly panel to take input on criminal record expungement (UPDATE)

By: Erika Strebel, [email protected]//March 5, 2019//

Assembly panel to take input on criminal record expungement (UPDATE)

By: Erika Strebel, [email protected]//March 5, 2019//

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A committee of Wisconsin Assembly lawmakers will be hearing public testimony on Thursday on several pieces of legislation, including one involving expungement.

Among the bills up for consideration by the Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety is Assembly Bill 33, which would make a series of changes to Wisconsin’s expungement law. The proposal, for instance, would remove rules that limit expungement only to offenders who had committed crimes before the age of 25 and disallow expungement for certain traffic crimes, according to an analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau.

Current law has certain requirements a criminal defendant must meet in order to be eligible for expungement, which refers to the removal of criminal records from the state’s public online court records. Besides preventing expungement from applying only crimes committed before offenders were 25, current law now allows it only when:

  • The crimes in question are felonies or misdemeanors and have a maximum prison term that is less than six years; and
  • A request for expungement is made during sentencing proceedings

What’s more, when a court grants a request for expungement, the pertinent records can only be taken down after offenders complete their sentences.

Assembly Bill 33, if approved, would also allow offenders who had not already obtained a court order to have a record expunged to petition a court for expungement after they have completed their sentences. If such a petition were denied, though, the proposed law would require offenders to wait two years to file another one. They also couldn’t file more than two petitions for each crime.

The bill also specifies that if a court granted an expungement petition, the crime in question would not be considered a conviction for employment purposes and that employment discrimination because of a conviction record would extend to requests asking a potential employee to supply information about an expunged crime.

The Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee will hear testimony on AB 33 at a public hearing that starts at 10 a.m. on Thursday in Room 225 Northwest in the state Capitol.

Last session, the Legislature considered two proposals to change the state’s expungement process. One bill, AB 93, proposed allowing offenders to petition for expungement a year after they had completed their sentences and if they paid $100 for each petition.

Another bill, AB 331, was closer to the latest proposal in that it called for allowing offenders who had not already obtained an expungement order to later petition for one after they had completed their sentences. Unlike AB 33, AB 331 did not propose eliminating the provision limiting expungement only to crimes committed before offenders were 25 years old and did not clarify that an expunged crime is not considered a conviction in the context of employment.

Both bills from last session passed in the Assembly but never made it to a vote on the Senate floor.

The committee will also be hearing public testimony Thursday on three other proposals:

  • AB 7, which would prohibits all snowmobile drivers under the age of 21 from drinking. The current age limit is 19.
  • AB 28, which would allow for “crime victim impact statements” that are, among other things, confidential unless exculpatory and could not be disclosed until after a plea had been entered or a defendant had been convicted in a criminal case. Current law provides that crime victims may only make statements involving sentencing, parole hearings and the disposition of a criminal case. The bill adds additional protections to those statements.
  • AB 34, which would set up a $5,000 surcharge that could be imposed on people who are convicted of soliciting or patronizing prostitutes, keeping a prostitution place and pandering. The money collected from the surcharged would be used for treatment and services for sex-trafficking victims and criminal investigations relating to crimes committed against children using the Internet.

After going before the committee, the bills would go before the Legislature before being sent on to Gov. Tony Evers.


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