Wisconsin Public Records

Understanding the availability of public records in the state of Wisconsin and how to access them is very important. Read on to learn more about what information is available and how you can access them.

Public records in the State of Wisconsin are available through the Wisconsin Public Records Law or precisely Wis. Stats. 19.31– 19.39. This law permits the citizens of Wisconsin access to all public records related to the running of the Wisconsin government business. This includes all public records of any employee or any elected official who is working for any Wisconsin government body. You may gain access to these records by making a request to the Office of Open Government, Wisconsin Department of Justice in Madison, Wisconsin, via mail,

The law does not grant access to information related to other documents of non-governmental individual or criminal activity of any person.

Wisconsin Criminal Records

You can access criminal records, such as arrest records and jail and inmate records by addressing your request to the Wisconsin Department of Justice. If you want to obtain information about the criminal history an individual arrested, adjudicated and charged in Wisconsin, you must make your request to the Criminal Records Unit of the state’s Department of Justice.

Background checks that utilize The Wisconsin Department of Justice Crime Information Bureau (CIB) has the responsibility to maintain criminal history records that local law enforcement agencies have submitted. To determine whether there is a criminal history for an individual residing in the Wisconsin, a full set of fingerprints and a Criminal History Challenge Form hat has been filled will be required.

The Offender Locator portal contains information about inmates within the DOC (Wisconsin Department of Corrections). The portal allows you to access information about the inmate status of any person throughout the entire system. To enter the portal, you must at least enter the offender’s last name.

Wisconsin Court Records

The Wisconsin Court System Circuit Court Access portal contains all the public records of the state’s Circuit Courts about a criminal defendant. You can access all these records online through the portal. You can also access some confidential records, such as those of child protection, juvenile delinquency, civil commitments, guardianship, adoption, and termination of parental rights through the portal.

The availability of court records depends entirely on the county where the court case was heard because access to the system and back loading of the older cases vary from one county to another.

Wisconsin Vital Records

You can access Wisconsin Vital Records, such as death, birth, marriage, divorce and domestic partnership through the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Vital Records Service. Applicable fee and a written application are required to perform a search for any of these records.

  • Birth records: Birth records in Wisconsin are divided into two categories. The first category comprises of those records before 1907 and the second category comprises of records from 1907 to present. While most birth records date back to 1870s, there are some Wisconsin counties that started keeping birth records in 1850s. Pre-1907 birth records are available at the Wisconsin Vital Records Office. This is also where you can get copies of birth records from 1907 to the present.
  • Death records: The state of Wisconsin organizes death records into two categories. The first category comprises of records prior to 1975 and the second category comprises of records from 1907 to present. The Wisconsin Family Library keeps accurate birth records from 1870s. However, some counties began registering births in the early 1850s. All the existing death records are available at the Wisconsin Family History Library and the Wisconsin Vital Records Office.
  • Marriage records: Marriage records in the state of Wisconsin are also divided into two categories, including early-1907 and 1907 to present. Statewide registration of marriages in Wisconsin began in 1907, but individual counties had been recording marriages in earlier years. You can obtain marriage records from the Wisconsin Vital Records. You can also request for them from the Registrar of Deeds in the county where the event took place.
  • Divorce records: Divorce records also exist in two categories: Early-1907 and 1907 to present. Most copies of pre-1907 divorce records are available at the Family History Library. Divorce records from 1907 to present are available at the Wisconsin Vital Records.

When you understand the accessibility of public records in the state of Wisconsin and the procedure to follow to access information, you will be able to obtain any record that you are looking for.

Wisconsin State Court System

Understanding how the system of Wisconsin state court works is very important as it helps you find court records easily.

Wisconsin Courts Overview

With the basic understanding of the organization of Wisconsin state court system and how it works, it will be easier for you to find the court files and records you are looking for. To make your work easier, start searching for court records in Wisconsin by simply going to courts by county.

The trial court system of Wisconsin State consists of Municipal Courts and Circuit Courts.

Circuit Courts

Wisconsin Circuit Courts have original jurisdiction over all types of Criminal and civil cases. However, Circuit Courts usually handle only those cases that are beyond the jurisdiction limit of Municipal Courts. Circuit Courts also have unlimited jurisdiction over all jury trials.

Wisconsin Circuit Courts have limited jurisdiction over all types of criminal cases. Typically, Circuit Courts do not actually handle ordinance violations that are within a Municipal Court jurisdiction.

Civil cases generally heard by Wisconsin Circuit Courts include most juvenile cases, probate matters, domestic relations, civil equity cases, and general civil claims.

Municipal Courts

Wisconsin Municipal Courts have limited jurisdiction over majority of ordinance violations. Typical cases that Municipal Courts handle include ordinance violations, traffic violations, and non-jury trials particularly for first offense drunk driving.

Wisconsin Municipal Courts also handle certain types of juvenile cases, including alcohol violations, truancy, curfew violations, and drug offenses. Municipal Courts have no jurisdiction over jury trials. They don’t offer jury trials. If the proper request is made and granted, the case can be transferred to Wisconsin Circuit Courts. A Municipal Court doesn’t have jurisdiction to hear cases requesting equitable relief.

Circuit Courts hear ordinance violations in the areas where Municipal Courts are not available.

Court Notes

The State of Wisconsin is currently in the process of expanding its trial court system. It is actually developing special or “problem solving” court programs within its Circuit Courts. These specialized court programs are developed to handle some types of cases. They include offender reentry courts, domestic violence courts, specialized juvenile courts, mental health treatment courts, and drug treatment courts. All these court programs operate as “problem solving” or specialized court programs of Circuit Courts.

The State of Wisconsin is also considering establishing some divisions within the Municipal Courts.  Every division must have its jurisdiction, which can be shared with Municipal Courts.

Currently, the files of cases exist in Circuit Courts and Municipal Courts.

The Official Website of Wisconsin County

Milwaukee City of Milwaukee
Madison City of Madison, Wisconsin
Kenosha City of Kenosha The City of Kenosha website helps citizens and visitors learn about city services and conduct business, including permit applications and online payments.
Racine Welcome to the City of Racine The official website for the City of Racine, Wisconsin
Appleton Appleton, WI
Waukesha Waukesha, WI | Official Website
Oshkosh City of Oshkosh
Eau Claire City of Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Janesville Janesville, WI
West Allis West Allis, WI – Official Website
La Crosse La Crosse, WI
Wauwatosa Wauwatosa, WI
Fond du Lac City of Fond Du Lac
New Berlin New Berlin, WI – Official Website
Wausau Wausau Wisconsin
Milwaukee County Milwaukee County | County of Milwaukee
Dane County Welcome to Dane County, Wisconsin The official County Government website for Dane County, WI. Find information on elected officials, local news & events, county services and more!
Brown County The official website of Brown County, Wisconsin government Brown County Government, Green Bay, Wisconsin – providing Brown County news, services and event information
Racine County Racine County, WI Racine County Courthouse730 Wisconsin Ave.Racine, Wisconsin 53403262-636-3333
Outagamie County Outagamie County, WI
Winnebago County Welcome to Winnebago County | Winnebago County
Kenosha County Kenosha County, WI – Official Website
Rock County Rock County Wisconsin
Marathon County Marathon County Wisconsin
Washington County Washington County, WI A Winter Weather Emergency has been declared for Washington County. All non-essential Washington County offices will be closed Monday, January 28.As part of this closure, the Justice Center will be closed and all court matters will be rescheduled.
Sheboygan County Sheboygan County
La Crosse County Official Web Site of La Crosse County Government Welcome to the official website of La Crosse County, Wisconsin
Walworth County Walworth County
Fond du Lac County Fond du Lac County Welcome to the new official Fond du Lac County site. Government officials, departments and services plus much more.
Eau Claire County Eau Claire County
Ozaukee County Ozaukee County, WI – Official Website
St. Croix County Welcome to St Croix County
Jefferson County Welcome to Jefferson County
Manitowoc County Manitowoc County, WI
Wood County Wood County Wisconsin
Portage County Portage County, WI
Chippewa County Chippewa County, Wi
Sauk County Sauk County Wisconsin Official Website
Columbia County Columbia County Website
Waupaca County Welcome to Waupaca County, WI
Grant County Grant County, Wisconsin Grant County, Wisconsin World Wide Web Site
Calumet County Calumet County, WI – Official Website
Barron County Barron County, Wisconsin – www.barroncountywi.gov
Monroe County Monroe County, Wisconsin –
Polk County Polk County, Wisconsin Polk County Wisconsin
Douglas County Douglas County, WI – Official Website
Dunn County Dunn County, WI
Shawano County The Official Shawano County Government Web Site Shawano County – Honoring Tradition, Discovering Tomorrow
Marinette County The Official Marinette County Government Website Marinette County has everything! Find information on Government officials, departments, services and more.
Pierce County Pierce County