The Wisconsin Circuit Court Access website, or CCAP, shows all filings in circuit courts throughout Wisconsin, including criminal, family, and small claims cases. As it relates to a criminal case, a user can discover a wealth of data with only a few clicks, including the status of the case, the next court date, and what sentence the defendant may have received. The purpose of CCAP is to promote transparency in public records. But what if someone wants to remove their record from CCAP? The process to seal your CCAP record is difficult, but not impossible.
Why Seal CCAP?
Imagine you are charged with a very serious crime, such as sexual assault of a child. You maintain your innocence and the State ultimately dismisses the case. Victory! However, anyone can run a search of your name and still see that you were charged, albeit the case was dismissed. These serious allegations, even if dismissed by the court, remains of public record and can be easily misunderstood or misused by license providers, potential employers, co-workers, and anyone who interacts with the individual. Numerous entities routinely use CCAP to investigate an individual, such as a landlord investigating a tenant, volunteer organizations screening volunteers, and parents investigating their child’s teacher. Even though there is a disclaimer on CCAP that directs employers not to use the case data to discriminate against potential employees, discrimination still occurs. That is why many people want their CCAP record sealed.
Power of the Courts to Seal CCAP
Circuit courts possess inherent authority to limit access to records in the interest of justice. One way courts limit access to records is through the expungement process. However, if you were never convicted, the expungement remedy is not available. Wisconsin generally has a very strong open records policy, though that right is not absolute. In determining whether the presumption of openness is overcome by another public policy concern, courts are to apply a balancing test: “weighing the public policies not in favor of release against a strong public policy that public records should be open for review.
How Difficult is it to Seal CCAP?
Your best chance at sealing your court record is if your case was a) dismissed prior to trial or b) you were found not guilty at trial. If you were convicted, but your record later expunged, a judge may consider it. But if you were simply convicted, it is extremely unlikely that a court will seal your CCAP record. Further, if you have been convicted of other crimes, a court is likely going to deny your request. What this all means is that it is quite difficult to seal your CCAP record, though not impossible. The criminal defense attorneys at Van Severen Law Office have been successful in persuading circuit courts to seal their clients’ records. Your attorney will review the caselaw and applicable statutes and draft a motion citing why you would benefit and society would not be harmed by sealing the record. If you are seeking to have your CCAP record sealed, contact the criminal defense attorneys at Van Severen Law Office today.