Frequently Asked Questions
Case information remains accessible on WCCA for the minimum retention period for the case type as set by Supreme Court Rule - Chapter 72. However, cases with active warrants, active appeals or money still owed remain available on WCCA. Contact the Clerk of Circuit Court office in the county where the case was filed for complete case information for those cases that no longer display on WCCA. Case types that are confidential do not appear on this list.
Cases remain available as follows:
WCCA is a mirror of the historical record in the Clerk of Court's office. As a historical record, it shows what has happened in every case filed. If a case is dismissed, or a person is found "not guilty" in a criminal case, that is part of the historical record and is disclosed in the records. See Question #1 for case retention information.
There are several reasons why a case may not be available on WCCA:
Licensed drivers ages 16 or older are treated as adults for non-criminal traffic violations.
By law and tradition, Wisconsin favors openness in government. Determinations about which cases appear on WCCA were finalized in March of 2002. The information that appears on WCCA represents an effort to balance these competing interests.
When a person believes a criminal complaint, traffic citation or ordinance violation was issued in error due to mistaken identity or identity theft, they can petition the court to remove their name from the online record of that action.
If you would like to remove a case that was filed due to mistaken identity or identity theft, complete a Petition, Affidavit and Order Concerning Removal of Case Record from Online Records Because of Identity Theft or Mistaken Identity (GF-182). This form can be found in the forms section of the Wisconsin Court System website at www.wicourts.gov or by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page. This form has instructions printed on it that will assist you in completing the form.
If you wish to file this petition, you should also consider filing a Certification by Prosecuting Agency Verifying Identity Theft or Mistaken Identity (GF-185). This form can be found in the forms section of the Wisconsin Court System website at www.wicourts.gov or by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page. This form has instructions printed on it that will assist you in completing the form. The Certification by Prosecuting Agency is a statement from the prosecuting agency agreeing that you were not the person who committed the offense. You are not required to submit the Certification, but it strongly recommended that you ask the prosecuting agency to complete a Certification before filing your Petition with the court. If the prosecuting agency does not agree with you that you were not the person who committed the offense, you may have difficulty convincing the court that your Petition should be granted.
Once you have completed the Petition, take it to the clerk of circuit courts office in the county where the case was filed. If the prosecuting agency has completed the Certification, file that with the Petition. The judge will review your Petition.
If your Petition is granted, your name will be concealed on the online (circuit court case management/WCCA) record of the case, but the case number and case information will still be viewable. No change will be made to the paper case file, which will continue to be kept in the clerk of circuit courts office. If you want information sealed in the paper file, you must make a general motion to the court to seal information in the paper court record.
Click here for the form: Petition, Affidavit and Order Concerning Removal of Case Record from Online Records Because of Identity Theft or Mistaken Identity (GF-182)
Click here for the form: Certification by Prosecuting Agency Verifying Identity Theft or Mistaken Identity (GF-185)
A person whose address displays on WCCA in a non-criminal case can petition the court to remove their address information from the online record for safety reasons. In order for the address to be removed, you must show the court that there is a demonstrated potential of physical or bodily harm or a threat of harm to you, a family member or a member of your household at that address.
If you would like to petition the court to remove your address from WCCA, complete a Petition, Affidavit and Order Concerning Removal of Address Information from Online Records (GF-183). This form can be found in the forms section of the Wisconsin Court System website at www.wicourts.gov or by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page. This form has instructions printed on it that will assist you in completing the form. You must submit a separate Petition for each case number in which you wish to have the address removed.
Once you have completed the Petition, take it to the clerk of circuit courts office in the county where the case was filed. A judge will review your Petition. If your Petition is granted, the address information will be removed from the online (circuit court case management/WCCA) case record. This Petition will not remove the address from the paper file. If you would like your address sealed in the paper file, you must make a general motion to the court to seal your address in the paper court record.
Click here for the form Petition, Affidavit and Order Concerning Removal of Address Information from Online Records (GF-183).
You probably can't get rid of this information. Wisconsin has a strong open records law [ Wis. Stats. 19.31-19.39 ] that requires most court records to be open. Personal information appearing in court records is protected by statutes only in limited circumstances. According to Wisconsin court cases, even if the information may be harmful to an individual's reputation or privacy, that is not necessarily enough to allow a judge to seal a court record. However, if you feel your safety is at risk, you can petition the court to remove your address from the online record of a non-criminal case. See FAQ #7.
Criminal cases are generally public information. Wisconsin law allows a judge to "expunge" a case in a limited number of situations:
A judge has no other authority or power to expunge cases, and there are no similar provisions for other types of cases. An expunged case is sealed by the clerk of court and may be viewed only with a court order. Any reference to it will be removed from WCCA.
WCCA is not responsible for court case information that is published on other websites. Any business or website offering to remove court case information for payment is not connected to WCCA or to any circuit court. Wisconsin circuit courts do not accept payment to remove court case information from the website. Payment to another organization will not cause court case information to be removed from the WCCA website.
No. Even under the limited circumstances described above, expungement only affects the court's record.
The Wisconsin Crime Information Bureau also keeps criminal records.
The case may still exist in the records of the District Attorney, other law enforcement records, the Department of Transportation and other places.
The court has no authority to require removal of those records.
A judgment party's status is always active, unless a creditor has an assigned creditor. If the creditor has an assigned creditor, the assigned creditor is 'active' and the original creditor is inactivated. The active status has nothing to do with the satisfaction of a judgment.
A converted case is a case that existed in the county's case management system prior to using the circuit court case management system. Some cases were converted onto the circuit court case management system. Some converted and historical cases do not contain complete information. To view complete information on these cases, visit the Clerk of Court's office in the county where the case took place. Converted and historical cases have the following Court Record events:
Monday April 5th, 1999.
Bankruptcy cases are handled by the Federal Courts, not the Circuit Courts, and are therefore not available on WCCA.
At the Revisor of State Statutes website: http://legis.state.wi.us/lrb
Contact the Clerk of Circuit Court office in the county where the case was filed for additional information about any cases, judgments, or calendar activities on WCCA. See Clerk of Circuit Court contact information.
Errors on the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access (WCCA) Internet Site result from an error in the underlying court record in the county responsible for the case. To correct an error or update a record, you must contact the court official in the county responsible for the case, usually the clerk of circuit court or circuit court judge.
If you are a party in the case you may request that the record be corrected. If you are represented by an attorney, your lawyer should request the correction. If you are not a party in the case, you may ask to have the record corrected if you can show that you have a relationship to the case. Make all error correction requests in the county responsible for the case.The clerk may be able to correct some information, such as:
PLEASE NOTE: Disagreements over the validity of an action or its outcome are not errors and will not result in changes being made.
Requested corrections should be made in writing and copied to the other parties in the case.
Click here for the ERROR CORRECTION REQUEST FORM.
Once a case is filed with the court, it will display on WCCA, even if the case was settled or dismissed.
WCCA limits your results two ways. First, if a search returns more than 500 records, you will receive an error message. Second, if you search takes longer than a certain amount of time, your search will time out and you will receive an error message. For example, if you search in a county for "Smith*", you will likely get this message because there are more than 500 cases with a last name of Smith. Try further limiting your search by adding additional criteria, such as a first name, a filing date range, or a case type.
When you see 'Click Here' instead of a case number, the docketed civil judgment is on a confidential case. No case information will be displayed.
The information that displays on WCCA varies based on when the case was added. We display 'Finding Notes', 'Sentence Notes', the 'Miscellaneous Condition Notes', and court record 'Additional Text' for all cases filed after July 1, 2001. In addition, if the individual finding, sentence, or Court Record Event was added after July 1, 2001, the text will display on WCCA. Finally, we display 'Probation Notes' and probation 'Time Conditions Notes' on WCCA for cases with guilty findings beginning on April 1, 2003
For non-criminal cases, we display only the birth month and year -- we do not display the full date of birth. For criminal felony, criminal traffic, and criminal misdemeanor cases, we display the full date of birth.
The Wisconsin News Reporters Handbook, chapter 6, has a good glossary of terms commonly used in Wisconsin courts. You can find it online here. You can also check the Wisconsin State Law Library web site for legal dictionaries and general legal information.
You can find a list of some of the most common abbreviations and acronyms used in court files here. There are also many abbreviations in party names and many abbreviations for county jails and state prisons that are not listed.
The WCCA website does not display all the information in a case file that may be public record. Most cases have a paper file with the original documents shown in the court record events and other documents that may not be referenced on the WCCA website. These documents are available in the offices of the official recordkeepers.
The information on the WCCA website is provided in two ways: the main screen shows the type of case, the parties, and any judgment that has been entered in the case. For criminal cases, a case summary is provided to show the current pending charges or the defendant's conviction/acquittal status. Criminal cases, traffic, and ordinance violations also show a history of the charges against the defendant. On the right, the link to "court record events" provides the date of actions taken in the case, such as filing of the complaint or petition, pleadings, court appearances, and judgments. Individual courts vary in how much detail is entered for each court record event.
Court records display the last known address for all parties on open cases. Parties whose addresses are listed on the court record should keep the court informed of their current address. Parties should provide their address information to the clerk of circuit court in the county where their case is filed using the GN-3520: Notice of Change of Address form. Addresses are updated on closed cases only if there is continuing court activity on that case.
The clerk of circuit court for each county is responsible for maintaining a judgment and lien docket for that county. The judgment and lien docket may consist of several sources: (a) In most counties, recent records are maintained electronically by entry into the circuit court case management system. Current filings may be viewed on public access terminals located in the office of the clerk of circuit court. Some clerks also make entries into a paper docket kept in the clerk's office. (b) Older records are contained in books and card files that predated implementation of the circuit court case management system. These older sources are kept only in the clerk's office for that county. (c) The WCCA website usually displays new judgments and liens within a few minutes of the time they are entered in the judgment and lien docket by the clerk of court. However, WCCA cannot guarantee that website information is completely current for purposes of the judgment and lien docket, due to occasional delays in uploading information from the circuit court case management system to the website.
The public policy of Wisconsin state government is that all persons are entitled to the greatest possible information regarding the affairs of government and its official acts. Wis. Statute 19.31. Circuit court records are open for public inspection, Wis. Stats. 59.20(3), unless closed by a statute, a common law limitation, or a specific court order.
Federal law prohibits Internet access to petitioner name and address information in these cases. 18 USC sec. 2265(d)(3). Wisconsin Statute 813.12(5m) also prohibits the court from disclosing the petitioner's address.