Criminal Frequently Asked Questions

 

 How long are case files kept?

Pursuant to Wisconsin Supreme Court Rule 72, case information remains accessible for the

minimum periods for the following case types:

  • Felony (CF) - 75 years after final judgment
  • Misdemeanor (CM) & Criminal Traffic (CT) - 20 years after final judgment
  • Traffic (TR) - 5 years after final judgment

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 How do I find my case number and case information?

Case information is available at:  http://wicourts.gov You may also use public access computer terminals in Room #117 of the Safety Building to find case information, including court dates.

 

Criminal Division case files prior to 1998 need to be verified through the Clerk of Circuit Court office. They were converted from a different computer system, and there is a possibility of incorrect information being converted.

 


 

 How do I get copies of documents in a case file?

Copies are available Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. from the customer service window outside Room #117 Safety Building (821 West State Street). Copies cost $1.25 per page. If you need a copy of a document certified, the cost for certification is $5.00 in addition to the copy costs.

 

Older files are located off-site and have to be ordered, which may take 2-3 days.

 


 

 I received a traffic citation. What should I do?

If the citation requires a mandatory appearance, you MUST appear at the designated place and time.

 

If the citation does not require a mandatory appearance and you wish to PAY it, you may do so by one of the following methods, before the court date. YOU MUST INCLUDE THE CITATION OR A PHOTOCOPY OF THE CITATION WITH YOUR PAYMENT.

 

BY MAIL:

  Clerk of Circuit Court Cashier

  1st Floor - Safety Building

  821 West State Street, Room #117

  Milwaukee, WI 53233

  414.278.4599

 

TO PAY IN PERSON: 

  Cashier Window - Clerk of Circuit Court

  1st Floor - Safety Building

  821 West State Street, Room #117

  Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

  [cash, check, money order, credit/debit card--a 3% fee will be added to credit/debit card transactions]

 

TO PAY ONLINE WITH CREDIT/DEBIT CARD:

  You may pay online at www.pay-fine.com

  Please allow 24-48 hours for processing

  A 3% fee will be added to credit/debit card transactions

 

TO PAY BY PHONE WITH CREDIT/DEBIT CARD:

  You may call 1.866.421.0994 [toll free] 24 hours daily 

  Please allow 24-48 hours for processing

  A 3% fee will be added to credit/debit card transactions

 

If you wish to appear to contest your citation, report to court on the date listed on your citation.

 

If the citation does not require a mandatory appearance and you wish to plead NOT GUILTY, you may do so by mailing your request to Court Commissioner, Room #221--Safety Building, 821 West State Street, Milwaukee, WI 53233. The request must be received BEFORE THE COURT DATE AND MUST INCLUDE a copy of the citation, your current address, and a statement that you wish to plead NOT GUILTY. If you plead not guilty by mail, please do not appear on the court date listed on the citation. Notice of the next court date, place, and time will be mailed to you.

 


 

 Can I request Clerk of Circuit Court office staff to change my court date?

No, Office staff cannot change court dates. Non-appearance on a scheduled court date may result in a warrant being issued for your arrest.

 


 

 I didn't show up for court. What happens now?

If you have a felony or misdemeanor case, the judge may have issued a warrant for your arrest.

 I have a warrant, what should I do?

If you have a lawyer, call your lawyer to learn more about your options.

 

If you have a felony case, you should turn yourself in at the Sheriff's Department, Room # G-1 of the Criminal Justice Facility (949 North 9th Street).

 

If you have a misdemeanor case, you should report to the customer service window outside Room #117 of the Safety Building (821 West State Street) to check the status of your case. If a warrant has been issued, inform the staff that you would like to clear the warrant. You will be sent to appear before the court commissioner. Please note that misdemeanor bench warrant walk-ins are processed by the court Monday-Friday in the AFTERNOONS ONLY  and are handled on a first-come /first-served basis after the scheduled court calendar.

 

If you have a traffic case, the court may have issued a default judgment and sent you a copy. You are responsible for paying the fine within 60 days or your license will be suspended. Payments may be mailed to the Clerk of Circuit Court Cashier, Room #117 Safety Building, 821 West State Street, Milwaukee, WI 53233.

 


 

 I received a default judgment on my traffic case. How can I reopen it?

You must appear in person at the customer service window outside Room #117 Safety Building (821 West State Street) to fill out a Petition to Reopen and deposit $20.00 per case. Petitions are processed by the court Monday-Friday between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. and are handled on a first-come/first-served basis after the scheduled court calendar.

 


 

 My driver's license has been suspended because I didn't pay my fine. What should I do?

You may call 278-4599 for information. You will need to pay the fine to the Clerk of Circuit Court Cashier, Room #117 Safety Building, 821 West State Street, Milwaukee, WI 53233 and you will need to pay a $60.00* reinstatement fee to the Department of Transportation.  Your license will NOT be reinstated automatically with the payment of your fine to the Clerk of Circuit Court. You must also pay the reinstatement fee to the D.O.T. Call your local D.O.T. office for information on paying the reinstatement fee.

 

* Reinstatement fee for OWI related offenses is $200.00.

 

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 How do I obtain an Occupational Driver's License?

Call the Wisconsin Department of Transportation at 608-266-2261 to determine your eligibility.

 

If you are eligible, please call 278-5386 to schedule an appointment. A brochure containing a petition and instructions will be mailed to you. The brochure and petition can also be picked up at the reception desk located in Room #117 of the Safety Building (821 West State Street) Monday-Friday between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

 

Petitions for occupational licenses are processed on Thursdays only. There is a non-refundable $40.00 charge to petition for an occupational license.

 


 I posted bail. How do I get my bail money back?

If the case is still open, the judge will usually require the bail to remain on deposit to ensure the defendant's appearance in court. After the case is closed, any remaining bail (after it is applied to the fine, court costs, assessments, and surcharges) will be returned to the person designated on the bail form. A bail refund check is usually mailed within 21 days of sentencing/disposition of the case. If you do not receive the bail refund after three weeks of the closing of the case, you may contact our office at 278-4538.

 

* Please note that if the bail posted on a criminal case is over $1000.00 and eligible for refund, a bail refund notice & affidavit will be mailed to the person who posted the bail within (3) weeks after the case is closed.

 

Note that if the defendant failed to appear for a court date, the judge may order the bail forfeited and issue a bench warrant for the arrest of the defendant. If the bail is ordered forfeited, our office will mail a notice to both the defendant and the person who posted bail.

 

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 I was a witness in a case. How do I request my witness fee?

Once the case is closed, you may call our office at 278-4538 to request your witness fee. Be ready to provide the case number, defendant's name, date(s) you were subpoenaed to appear in court, and your current address and phone number.

 


 My State tax refund was intercepted. What do I do?

If you went to the State's web site and found your taxes were intercepted, you will be receiving a letter with instructions and a phone number to call.

 


 Is there a way for a family member who is in Jail or at the House of Corrections to be released to attend a family funeral?

 

Yes, if the court grants permission.  In some cases, if the court grants permission, it may require that the inmate be escorted to the funeral by one or more sheriff's deputies or correction officers (and if so, the Sheriff's office or House of Corrections will require payment in advance for the cost of the escort).  Also, the court may limit the attendance to a brief visit before the public is allowed to attend the funeral or wake. 

 

To make a request to attend a funeral or wake obtain a Petition and Order for Funeral Pass form from the Clerk of Courts Office, 821 W. State Street, Room 117 or click on the form below.  Once completed and filed with the Clerk of Circuit Courts Office, the Petition will be considered promptly by the court. Please be aware that a last minute request may not give the court and/or the custodian time to act.  Once a decision is made, the petitioner will be notified.  If the Petition is granted, a copy of the form must be served upon the Sheriff or House of Corrections, depending on who is the custodian of the defendant.

 

Click on the following link to access the Funeral Pass Form: http://www.milwaukeecounty.org/ClerkofCircuitCourtC210507/Forms.htm

 

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 How can I get my conviction/case expunged?

Wisconsin law allows a judge to expunge” a conviction (that is, to remove the conviction/case from the public record) only in limited situations (See Wis. Stat. § 973.015):

 

  • Expungement is available if:
    • The defendant was under age 25 when the crime was committed (for crimes committed before July 1, 2009, the defendant must have been under age 18),
    • The crime of which the defendant was convicted was a misdemeanor, or it was a nonviolent Class H or I felony and the defendant had no other felony on his/her record at the time.
    • The judge ordered expunction upon successful completion of the sentence. 
  • In these situations, the defendant should provide proof that he/she successfully completed the sentence and/or satisfied the terms of the expungement order.  This documentation should be sent to the Clerk of Circuit Court, Criminal Division, 821 W. State Street, Room 117, Milwaukee, WI 53233, along with a letter request for expungement per the Court's previous order.
  • Dismissed charges are not eligible for expunction.
  • An expunged case is sealed by the clerk of court and is available only with a court order.
  • If the judge properly orders a case expunged, any reference to it will be removed from WCCA (the court's public records website). 
  • Expunged cases will still exist in the records of the Wisconsin Crime Information Bureau and other law enforcement agencies and may appear on criminal background checks.
  • If your case is eligible for Expungement:

    •  If you are eligible for expungement, the Defendant or Defendant's Attorney should submit a letter request or formal petition [see below] to Clerk of Circuit Court, Criminal Division Postconviction Unit, 821 W. State Street, Room 117, Milwaukee, WI 53233, along with a statement from Probation (if defendant was put on probation) advising the court that all the conditions/fines/fees have been satisfied and that the defendant was discharged from probation.

    • Use this Petition (CR-290) (PDF) (DOC) if sentence was imposed prior to 7/1/09.

    • Use this Petition (CR-266) (PDF) (DOC) if sentence was imposed on or after 7/1/09.

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 What steps can be taken to have an address removed from a non-criminal case (TR-Traffic or FO-Forfeiture) because the information contained online may cause a demonstrated potential of physical or bodily harm to someone or a member of their household?

Complete the Petition, Affidavit and Order concerning Removal of Address Information from Online Records form [GF-183] (PDF) (DOC) and mail said document to: 

 

Clerk of Circuit Court

Criminal Division

821 W. State Street, Room 117

Milwaukee, WI 53233.

 
 What do you do if you believe there is an error in the court record?

In these situations, a defendant's attorney or defendant may submit either a post conviction motion/letter request alleging the error or by completing the Request to Correct Error in Court Records form [GF-184] (PDF) (DOC).