Final grade: C

Exclusion Grade


Relevance Grade


Due Process Grade



  • Boards must evaluate multiple mitigating factors (including evidence of rehabilitation) when considering licensing applications.
  • Enacted a predetermination petition process for applicants.

Areas of Improvement

  • Ban agencies from using vague standards like “good moral character.”
  • Extend state’s protections to all licenses and all crimes. 

Thanks to a 2018 reform, Wisconsin improved its legal protections for people with criminal records, earning a C for its final grade. But several loopholes still remain.

Unlike nearly all other states, Wisconsin’s substantially related test does not apply to violent crimes. This allows boards to deny applicants even if their criminal record is completely unrelated to the license sought and if they have evidence demonstrating their rehabilitation. In addition, licenses for education and private security are exempt from Wisconsin’s main law. As a result, anyone convicted of a felony is automatically barred from becoming a licensed private detective and security guard.

Statute: Wis. Stat. 111.335 (2020)

Overarching ban on blanket bans Yes, but excludes education and security licenses
Ban on considering arrest records Yes
Ban on considering post-conviction relief records No
Time limit No limit
Ban on vague, discretionary character standards No
Relationship between the crime and the license sought "Substantially related," but excludes violent crimes
Required factors for consideration
Rehabilitation Yes
Time elapsed since crime was committed Yes
Age when crime was committed Yes
Employment History No
Testimonials Yes
Due Process
Petition Process Yes
Burden of Proof Both unspecified
Right to appeal No
Written notice requirement Yes