Wisconsin bill would require courts remove information from online database if charges dismissed or acquittal occurs

It is a popular and widespread misconception that a search of online court records is the same as a criminal background back. It is demonstrably false, as noted here (full disclosure: I and other National Center for State Court folks wrote and drafted the info sheet).

That said court information is misused as a form of background check to vet people for jobs or housing rentals. For the last 5 years or so efforts have been made in Wisconsin to have information related to people arrested and charged, but later acquitted or who obtained a dismissal of the charges, removed from that state’s database, the Consolidated Court Automation Program (CCAP) and  the judiciary’s
Internet site Wisconsin Circuit Court Access (WCCA). For the most part they have failed (see prior coverage here) however a new effort reportedly has bipartisan support.

AB 685 and SB 526 require the director of state courts to remove a case or charge from WCCA in two instances:

  • civil forfeiture: 90 days after being notified of dismissal/not guilty/overturned on appeal
  • misdemeanor/felony: 120 days after being notified of dismissal/not guilty/overturned on appeal.

A hearing on the Assembly version is set for this week before the Assembly Corrections Committee.

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