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Are Criminal Records Public in Wisconsin?

Yes, Wisconsin criminal records are public per the state’s Open Records Law. The law ensures that state public criminal records are available to interested parties at all levels through designated record custodians. This record custodian for criminal records is the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DoJ). The Wisconsin Department of Justice Crime Information Bureau (CIB) is the specialized unit that maintains Criminal History Record Information (CHRI) and makes them available to the public through the Wisconsin Online Record Check System (WORCS) website.

Criminal records, considered public in the United States, are made available through some third-party aggregate sites. Searching with third-party websites is often easier as the information is not limited to geographic record availability. Information found on third-party websites can serve as a jumping off point for parties searching for a specific record or multiple records. Typically, requesters must provide the following information to gain access to these records:

  • The record subject’s name, unless the subject is a juvenile.
  • The record subjects’ last known location, including cities, counties, and states.

Third-party websites offer these search services, but they are not government-sponsored. Availability of records may vary.

What is Considered a Criminal Record in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin criminal records provide a comprehensive overview of an individual’s criminal history. Sometimes referred to as rap sheets, they contain official data sourced, assembled, and compiled from local, county, and state jurisdictions, including courts, law enforcement departments, and state correctional facilities.

While the standard for criminal record collection and storage varies from county to county, most Wisconsin criminal records are organized in online record depositories that are available to the public in the form of a criminal background report. The content of a criminal record will vary with the individual. Still, requesters can expect to find the following information in a typical criminal record:

  • The subject’s name and personal information
  • The subject’s known contact
  • Physical descriptors (height, weight, race, body markings, and scars)
  • Information on the charges
  • Court disposition
  • Jail information
  • Parole information
  • Post-conviction status

How to Obtain Criminal Records in Wisconsin?

The CIB makes this type of police record available to the public through WORCS. Interested persons can perform a name-based criminal record search on WORCS. First, applicants must create user accounts and submit the exact names, dates of birth, and social security numbers for the criminal records sought. Upon account approval, the requester may perform a name-based criminal record search for $10 per record.

Interested persons may query the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access page to perform a free public criminal record check. Requesters must know the defendant’s name and birth date for an accurate case search.

Are Arrest Records Public in Wisconsin?

Yes, the Wisconsin Open Records Law makes state arrest records available to the public. Wisconsin police departments generate public arrest records and submit them to the CIB, which manages the state’s fingerprint-based criminal history repository.

Interested persons may perform an arrest search by querying WORCS or by visiting the arresting agency. Both options will come at a cost. Still, eligible individuals may obtain free arrest records by querying the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access page.

What is Considered an Arrest Record in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin arrest records provide information about a subject’s arrest history. It documents if a subject has been questioned, taken into custody, apprehended, or arrested or investigated. Wisconsin arrest records may also detail the charges leading to the arrest. In the state of Wisconsin, a person can be arrested once they commit a misdemeanor, a felony, or a repeated traffic violation.

In Wisconsin, police reports, also known as police records, are different from arrest records, although the terms are often used interchangeably. Police records document the actions of law enforcement, while arrest records only include arrest information as it applies to a single citizen.

Wisconsin Arrest Warrants

A Wisconsin arrest warrant is an official document signed and issued by a judge or magistrate on behalf of the local and state law enforcement department. It authorizes a police officer to arrest or detain the person or people named in the warrant.

Wisconsin does not have a central repository where the public may perform an active warrant search. Thus, interested individuals must check county repositories for this police record. Similarly, the DEA Fugitive Search tool or the U.S. Marshall's Warrant Information System may be useful for anyone looking to perform a Wisconsin warrant search.

In Wisconsin, police officers may make arrests without an arrest warrant when there is reasonable cause to suspect a person has committed a crime or an officer witnesses a person committing a crime.

How to Lookup Wisconsin Inmate Records

Wisconsin, like most states, has a Department of Corrections database, which can be accessed by anyone looking to perform an inmate search. It provides public records of inmates who are incarcerated in facilities managed by the Wisconsin DOC. Anyone can perform an inmate lookup using a known name or DOC number. Information can also be obtained by sending a request to the:

Department of Corrections
O. Box 7925
Madison, WI 53707-7925

Wisconsin inmate records provide official information about a person’s current and sometimes past inmate status. It includes general details such as:

  • The inmate’s full name and any known aliases
  • Physical descriptors
  • Inmate’s DOC number
  • Racial identification
  • Details of the prison sentence
  • Convicted offense
  • Court file number
  • Maximum sentence length
  • Conviction type
  • Assigned location
  • Parole board jurisdiction date

How Do I Find Sex Offenders in Wisconsin?

Backed by Megan’s Law, the Wisconsin sex offender registry is a public database that provides information on registered sex offenders. Residents of the state can search the registry by name or address. Searches can also be conducted by zip code to identify sex offenders living nearby. Although registered sex offenders in Wisconsin aren’t required to notify neighbors directly, residents of Wisconsin can receive instant notifications on the proximity of sex offenders by signing up for the email alert system managed by the Wisconsin Department of Corrections Sex Offender Registration Program (SORP).

Wisconsin laws mandate the registration of an inmate convicted of certain sex offenses with the local county sheriff. Judges are also given discretion as to whether they require registration for crimes besides the charges listed under the sex offender registration law. A judge may order an adult to register as a sex offender if the crime they were convicted of involves sexual motivation.

Understanding OWI Laws in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) by drugs or alcohol is one of the most serious traffic violations a driver can commit. Wisconsin police officers stop vehicles whose drivers appear impaired and perform sobriety tests to see whether or not they are driving under the influence. In Wisconsin, a person is said to be operating a vehicle while intoxicated if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is above. 08. The limit for commercial motor vehicle operators is 0.04, and the limit for underage drivers is 0.02.

The penalties for an OWI in Wisconsin vary with certain factors. First offenders may not get jail time, while subsequent offenders may face between five days to one year in prison. Offenders may also have to pay fines or perform community service. Either way, people who partake in drunk driving lose their driver’s license following an indictment with OWI. The Wisconsin DMV shall reinstate the driver’s license following an administrative review and after the driver fulfills license reinstatement requirements.

Wisconsin Misdemeanors Laws: Offenses and Penalties

Misdemeanors belong to a category of non-indictable offenses that are generally less severe than felonies. Common examples of crimes that rank as misdemeanors in Wisconsin include:

  • Assault with a deadly weapon
  • Sexual battery
  • Violation of a restraining order
  • Larceny
  • Possession of stolen goods
  • Resisting a police officer
  • Carrying a concealed weapon
  • Concealment of goods
  • Violation of city codes
  • Simple possession of marijuana

Wisconsin laws divide misdemeanor charges into multiple classes to describe the severity of the alleged crime, where Class A misdemeanors are the most severe and Class C are the least severe.

  • Class A misdemeanors are punishable by fines of up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment, not more than nine months.
  • Class B misdemeanors are punishable by fines of up to $1,000 and imprisonment not more than 90 days.
  • Class C misdemeanors are punishable by fines of up to $500 and imprisonment not more than 30 days.

Wisconsin Felony Laws: Offenses and Penalties

Felony crimes are the most serious type of offense. Crimes in this category are punishable with the possibility of incarceration, served in a county jail or state prison. Some felony convictions are punishable by life imprisonment or death. Wisconsin laws divide felonies into nine (9) classes based on the severity of punishment for each group.

  • Class A felonies are crimes punishable by death or life with/without parole
  • Class B1 felonies consist of crimes punishable by up to 60 years
  • Class C felonies include crimes punishable for up to 40 years
  • Class D felonies include crimes punishable for up to 25 years
  • Class E felonies include crimes punishable for up to 15 years
  • Class F felonies include crimes punishable for up to 12 years
  • Class G felonies include crimes punishable for up to 10 years
  • Class H felonies include crimes punishable for up to 6 years
  • Class I felonies include crimes punishable for three (3) years and six months

What is Parole in Wisconsin?

Parole is conditional freedom that Wisconsin inmates receive before the completion of their maximum sentence. Parole boards assess prisoners who exhibit good behavior during their prison terms and may allow them to serve the rest of their time within the community and under supervision. In Wisconsin, the Parole Commission grants discretionary paroles or early release to state prisoners. Parolees must exhibit good behavior and keep away from parole violations to avoid re-incarceration.

Wisconsin Probation Records

Probation records contain the official details of persons who receive probation as an alternative to a period in prison. In Wisconsin, the probation office allows convicted offenders to serve out their sentences out of custody as long as they comply with probation conditions imposed by the judge and their probation officer. Probation is issued in proportion to the crime. The length and nature of probation differ (sometimes drastically) from case to case.

What are Juvenile Records in Wisconsin?

Juvenile criminal records provide official data of crimes committed by individuals who are not yet of legal adult age. These individuals are tried in a juvenile court and - if found delinquent - are remanded to a juvenile detention center. If a person was found adjudicated delinquent to a criminal offense, they do not have to respond “yes” if asked whether they have ever been convicted of a crime, unless the question specifically asks if they were ever adjudicated delinquent as well.

Are Juvenile Records Public in Wisconsin?

The inspection of Juvenile records in Wisconsin is limited by law to only a group of people. Access to juvenile records is only provided for the following:

  • Service providers on the case
  • Judge of the juvenile court or persons working under the judge’s direction
  • The youth
  • Parents or guardians of the youth
  • Surrogate
  • Individuals intervening on behalf of the unit during a proceeding
  • The DA’s office
  • The Juvenile department

What are Wisconsin Conviction Records?

A conviction record is an official document providing information that a person was found guilty, pleaded guilty, or pleaded nolo contendere against criminal charges in a civilian or military court. The criminal charges can be classified as a felony, misdemeanor, or other offense. A conviction also includes when a person has been judged delinquent, has been less than honorably discharged, or has been placed on probation, fined, imprisoned or paroled.

A criminal conviction is rendered by either a jury of peers or a judge in a court of law. A conviction does not include a final judgment that was deleted by a pardon, set aside, reversed, or otherwise rendered inoperative.

History and Accuracy of Wisconsin Criminal Records

The accuracy of the data of criminal records depends on the recordkeeping and technological capabilities of the jurisdiction where the record was assembled and later digitized. Wisconsin criminal records archives usually tend to go back as far as the 1970s when criminal and arrest data started to be centralized and compiled into an organized database much like we use today.

Accuracy was more commonly affected by human error in the past, but in the 1990s,. the quality and accuracy of recordkeeping improved exponentially due to the advent of the computer.

Find Wisconsin Criminal History Record for Free

A criminal record includes documents containing the criminal history of a person and their interactions with law enforcement. These records are compiled at local, state, and federal strata by the responsible law enforcement agencies in charge. The only exceptions to these records are expunged offenses or classified cases. The Wisconsin Open Records Act passed into law in 1981 states “that the public has a right to collect and analyze all public records unless it is expressly against the law”. Criminal history records in the state of Wisconsin are classified as public records and as such anyone can obtain data requested. While the Wisconsin state policy states that "all persons are entitled to the greatest information possible regarding the affairs of government" if another state law states otherwise to the exemption of such records, access to that information can be denied to members of the public. Criminal records in Wisconsin are maintained by the Department of Justice.

Some records can be obtained for free or at a charge from an online database maintained by government establishments or third-party sites. Or, from the office of the clerk in charge of court records depending on the form and scope of the data needed. While criminal history records are accessible by the public, not all data can be accessed for free. Where a fee applies, records can only be accessed after payment of the fee fixed by the legislature. Public records can be found at the local, state, or federal levels which are open to the public through the Freedom of Information Act. In some cases, you can write a letter to the government to receive public record data. In other cases, you may be required to visit the local county office in person. In most cases, you will need to visit hundreds of different public and private websites to get the single, easy-to-read report.

Please note that records of on-going investigations, juvenile records and any information on criminal history records that breaches security or privacy. In addition custodians of records of Wisconsin law enforcement records are not obligated to provide records from manual or automated data systems financed through federal programs.

Are Police Records Public in Wisconsin?

Yes. Police records are considered public in the state of Wisconsin under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Police Records are information obtained from federal or local law enforcement agents to recognize vital criminal history data in regards to the subject of the data to either prevent, detect, investigate or prosecute criminal offenses.

The Police and other law enforcement establishments in charge of investigating crimes compile a couple of different records in criminal cases. Not all criminal records are available online.

How to Obtain Police Records in Wisconsin

There are several ways of obtaining police records in Wisconsin. Police records in the state are obtained and maintained by the police records bureau and can be obtained online from the database maintained by the state Records Bureau. A requester can also download, fill and send an official request form via mail to the responsible department in charge of records needed. Or one can visit a police department within the state, in person, to request a police record within business hours (Monday to Friday, from 8 am to 4 pm).

A request form should include the following information; the name of the requester, the contact information of the requester (phone number, mail address), and any other detailed information.

Are Police Reports Open to the Public in Wisconsin?

Yes, police reports under the Wisconsin Open Records Law are public records. Members of the public can request for and be granted access to police records in the following ways:

  • Requester and put a call through to the records office under the department of police and make a request.
  • Send a mail containing a request to the mail address of the state police or at the local level.

Madison Police Records
211 S. Carroll Street
Madison, WI, 53703

  • Or visit the office in person.
  • Contact the Police Department online during working hours.

How to File a Police Report with Wisconsin Law Enforcement

A police report is a legal document that provides a detailed account of an incident, usually a crime, the date, the time, and the facts surrounding the event. It is usually used by the department of police and law enforcement agencies, the court, or the victim of the crime. Police reports are either written by a responding officer, an eyewitness to a crime, or a victim of a crime. Police reports are used as reference points by investigating officers. Although the procedure for filing a report may differ for different government agencies the content of the reports is generally the same. Arrest reports, incident reports, crime reports, and accident reports are all various police reports.

A person can file a report online within Wisconsin if an issue is not considered an emergency. A police report can also be filed to the official mail address of the department of police at the local or state level. Lastly, a report can be filed in person at any station within the county where an incident to be reported took place. In the case where the issue is an emergency, it is required that the report is filed in person.

Where to Find Free Public Police Records in Wisconsin

Free public police records can be obtained from the Wisconsin Court System. The Consolidated Court Automation Program (CCAP) is the official website of the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access website (WCCA) and is maintained by the state court system. Free, reliable, and easy access to court case records is made available;e on the website. Another site where cases filed in the supreme court and court of appeal of the state of Wisconsin can be accessed by the public is the Wisconsin Supreme Court and Court of Appeals Case Access (WSCCA). The data that can be accessed on both websites only include those that are legally accessible by the public, all other information is withheld. Cases considered sealed are inaccessible. Fees apply when a requester needs information in printed form (colored copies costing more than black and white) and in bulk. Fees that apply can be waived for data collected for the public interest.

For any inquiry, requesters can contact the office of the clerk of the supreme court of appeal in the state.

How to Find Mugshots in Wisconsin

A mugshot is a picture portrait of a person which shows from the shoulders to the waist. It is normally taken after an individual is arrested for a criminal offense. Arrest records collated and maintained by criminal courts and the police departments in Wisconsin include mugshots. A mug shot intends to give law enforcement agencies access to a photographic record of an arrested person for easier identification by victims, the public, and/or investigators. Some government agencies maintain a database containing mugshots of arrested persons, which is made available online. These mugshots can be accessed for free- especially mugshots of sex offenders. Some mugshots are only available online for a particular time, after which they are taken down.

A mugshot can also be obtained from the local police station with the arrest records of the subject who committed an offense. Members of the public can request to see reports within business hours. A requester may be required to fill out a form and pay a certain fee for processing. Although arrest records are generally available to the public, accessibility is dependent on one’s location and the data sorted. In some cases, only a lawyer can get the required information.

Courthouses within the county where a person was convicted and arrested can also provide members of the public with mugshots of offenders whose records are maintained by them. One would need to know the name and date of birth of the convict.

Please note that not all government establishments upload mugshots of arrested or convicted persons.

Eau Claire
Fond Du Lac
La Crosse
St. Croix