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Discharge from probation didn’t count as successful completion of sentence for expunction purposes

State v. Keandrae J. Reed, 2020AP1921-CR, District 1, 6/2/21 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity (including briefs)

After being convicted of misdemeanor theft, Reed was placed on probation and given the chance for expungement. While he successfully discharged from probation, he isn’t entitled to expungement because he didn’t do enough to pay restitution to have “successfully completed” his sentence as required by § 973.015(1m)(b).

Reed’s probation conditions included no new criminal conduct, 10 hours of community service, and, of course, restitution, for which he was given a payment plan. Because he didn’t comply with the payment plan, the restitution was quickly converted to a civil judgment. (¶¶2-4).

Reed first claims that the civil judgment satisfies his restitution obligation because he was given the “choice” of a payment plan or civil judgment. For this he relies on the judgment of conviction, which shortened and paraphrased the circuit court’s oral statement at sentencing that any amount unpaid when probation was terminated be reduced to judgment. The court of appeals rejects Reed’s characterization of the sentencing judge’s language; nor could the alternative language in the JOC change the condition, as the court’s unambiguous oral pronouncement controls. (¶¶14-20).

His next argument is that being discharged from probation entitles him to expunction. That claim is foreclosed by State v. Ozuna, 2017 WI 64, 376 Wis. 2d 1, 898 N.W.2d 20. (¶¶21-23).

Finally, he tries an equal protection claim: he’s indigent and (due in part to his criminal conviction) couldn’t get a job that allowed him to pay restitution, and he shouldn’t be denied expunction because of his impecuniousness. But he didn’t raise this claim in the circuit court, so it’s forfeited. (¶¶24-26).

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