Wisconsin Arrest Records and Warrant Search
What is an arrest record?
The central crime history repository of Wisconsin which is maintained by the Crime Information Bureau of the Department of Justice contains information on arrest records, charges filed, case dispositions, court findings, prosecution analysis, sentencing, state correctional details including admission and release. This set of information is together known as arrest records from Wisconsin and these details are released in response to warrant searches launched through various state agencies.
All justice departments maintain information on crimes that have occurred within their jurisdiction; for instance, the magistrate’s court will keep details on all arrest warrants issued by them while the county clerk’s office maintains a database of the court dockets linked to all cases. However, the information held by these agencies is limited to a certain geographical area within the state. As opposed to this, through the Crime Information Bureau one can find statewide criminal records.
The centralized crime history repository maintained by the agency contains details sent in by various justice agencies in Wisconsin including departments of the sheriffs, state prosecution, tribunals, other law enforcement agencies including US Marshalls, county clerks’ offices, the Department of Corrections and parole and probation boards. It should be noted here that the submission of criminal history coming in from the various law enforcement agencies is based on the fingerprint cards collected at the time of arrests.
Information on all offenses stated in Wisconsin Criminal Code 165.83(2)(a) are to be submitted along with fingerprint cards to the CIB. Apart from this, the Bureau will also accept fingerprint cards for any other criminal matters that were taken at the discretion of the investigating agency. In other words, the crime history database maintained by the Crime Information Bureau only contains information on arrests and dispositions that are linked to fingerprint cards. If for a certain matter, even if it is of a criminal nature, fingerprint cards are nor furnished, information on the case will not be included in the crime history database. In addition to this information, relevant details are also collected from courts, clerks and corrections. This information will obviously not contain criminal fingerprints but it is included in a file that is identified through prints.
One of the reasons why fingerprint cards are a mandate for the inclusion of data in the crime history repository pursuant to WRS 165.84 is because these can be used to confirm whether a particular criminal file belongs to a said individual or not with certainty. A name based inquiry simply offers the likelihood of the arrest records and details on active warrants being against a certain individual but there is no surety of this.
However, name based checks are cheaper to conduct and process; hence, most background inquiry requirements in the state are fulfilled through such means. It should also be noted here that although the CIB does offer fingerprint warrant searches, these are only open for applicants who are legislatively authorized to access complete crime history. In most cases, landlords, private businesses and individuals can only avail name based inquiries. Because these searches are undertaken on the basis of personal identifiers, they are not as reliable as fingerprint investigations.
If a name based query brings up wrong results, the CIB does offer the facility to clarify the false match. This can be done by submitting a full set of fingerprints to the agency and using the application for challenging crime history available at http://www.doj.state.wi.us/dles/cib/background-check-criminal-history-information#challengingarecord.
What is an arrest warrant?
In accordance with section 968.02 of the Criminal procedures of Wisconsin, the complaint for charging a person in a criminal matter can only come from the office of the district attorney of the county in which the criminal matter has occurred. Although the local sheriff’s department can also issue the complaint, they do need the approval of state prosecution before the affidavit is filed in court. This approval will be given in writing in the form of an endorsement on the charging instrument.
There are three likely outcomes to filing a criminal complaint in court. The first is that the magistrate will grant an arrest warrant; this is done when:
- The affiant is a police officer or a member of a law enforcement agency
- The crime in question is a felony or a serious misdemeanor
- The accused poses a risk to himself, the victim, the witnesses or the society at large
- There is considerable reason to believe that a court issued summons will be disobeyed
- The defendant has criminal history including involvement in felonies
- The accused did not obey a court directive in the past
- If enough information is not available for the delivery of the summons
- The prosecution specifically requests that an arrest warrant be issued
In response to a charging instrument, the magistrate may issue a citation which calls for the appearance of the accused in court. These are known as summonses and they are usually released when the complainant is a civilian or if the infraction in question is minor and there is reasonable surety of the fact that the suspect will obey the legal order.
A third possibility is that the matter may be dismissed by the tribunal. This is done pursuant to section 968.03 when the police cannot show through the evidence they have that there is probable cause to believe the suspect committed the criminal act he is being accused of. If an active warrant is granted, the cops are given the authority to serve them.
Wisconsin outstanding warrants are executed by making arrests under their provisions; for this, the police may have to use force or the defendant may surrender. In either case, the alleged offender will be held in custody till the tribunal grants him release under bail or other conditions.
How to search for an inmate in the Wisconsin Prison System?
An inmate locator system is offered on the website of the Department of Corrections. This tool is linked to the prisoner database held by the agency. It should be stated here that the DOC controls the incarceration of criminals who have been sentenced to prison terms. To use their inmate search, agree to the terms given on http://offender.doc.state.wi.us/lop/. You will then be redirected to the inquiry form.
Applicants are given multiple options to initiate the search such as personal identifiers including the name of the prisoner, date of birth, gender, race and age. It is also possible to find information based on the DOC Identification number or the address of the offender. It is possible to limit the inquiry to a particular section of the criminal database such as sex offenders or prisoners who are currently serving time or those who have been released on active supervision.
Once you have inserted the relevant information, just click on the “perform search” tab that can be seen below the form to view the results. To access additional information on the prisoner including a photograph, click on the name. You can find details on all the cases that have been initiated against the convict through this system.
Who can search for arrest records and warrants in WI?
Pursuant to the Wisconsin FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) anyone can access crime history data by paying the fees prescribed in the legislature of the state. While, you will be told about all criminal matters started against the subject, access to information on juvenile matters including criminal cases is restricted and is only available online through statutorily authorized investigations such as day care background checks.
How to Request Records Under the Wisconsin Public Records Act?
There are two ways in which you can request a warrant search through the Crime Information Bureau.
Sending inquiries through mail: Use the form available at http://www.doj.state.wi.us/sites/default/files/dles/cib-forms/record-check-unit/DJ-LE-250-single.pdf. Fill this and send it to the agency with a self addressed, stamped envelope and a check or money order for $12 at:
Record Check UnitPO Box 2688Madison WI 53701-2688
It takes 7 to 10 working days to receive a response to mailed in searches and you will be charged even if records cannot be found in the name of the subject.
Online inquiries: The incorporation of the Computerized Crime History (CCH) section within the department means that applicants can now also view arrest records and details on the issue of active warrants from WI online. There are two ways in which you can request crime history data through the CIB website at https://recordcheck.doj.wi.gov/. It is possible to establish a membership with them. Information on setting up the account can be found at www.doj.state.wi.us/dles/cib/cib-forms.
If you are simply looking for a one time inquiry, you can use their online records check for credit card clients which is available at https://recordcheck.doj.wi.gov/. You will be charged $7 for a general warrant search and $10 for daycare and caregiver background inquiries.
How Long Does An Arrest Record or Warrant Stay On File In Wisconsin?
Wisconsin outstanding warrants, whether they are issued in connection with misdemeanors or felonies, do not go out of effect. The prosecution can call for the dismissal of warrants that have been held back in the system for a while but could not be served. However, a reason will have to be furnished for such a request. The only time that an arrest warrant is recalled is when the probable cause which it is based on is no longer valid. Barring this scenario, there is no other situation in which an arrest warrant from WI will be squashed.