Professional careers jeopardized by old charges

A local office of the Wisconsin State Public Defender recently assisted two former clients who encountered obstacles with their respective legal and medical careers (minor details have been changed to ensure client confidentiality).  These examples show that old criminal cases, even for relatively minor charges, can cause employment difficulties and frustrate professional advancement many years later.

The first former client recently passed an out-of-state bar examination, and he disclosed on his license application a 20-year-old Wisconsin misdemeanor charge.  When he called for assistance in interpreting the online court records, he learned (to his relief) that what he had always thought was a criminal conviction had actually been reduced to a non-criminal ordinance violation.  Although the original criminal charge remains accessible in Wisconsin’s court records, he was able to amend his license application to report that he does not have any criminal conviction record.  (It is not clear what effect a misdemeanor conviction would have had on his licensure, but now he won’t have to find out.) Read more