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Changes to asset forfeiture laws being considered in Wisconsin

Being accused of a crime can have all kinds of impacts on a person. Criminal charges and the possibility of facing major criminal punishments are not the only potentially life-changing things such allegations can expose a person to here in Wisconsin. For one, they also could potentially expose one to civil asset forfeiture.

Such forfeitures are when authorities seize and keep property suspected to have been used in or gained from criminal activity. Losing property through such a forfeiture could have major financial implications for a person.

In recent years, there have been calls for reforms to asset forfeiture laws. Among the concerns supporters of reform have raised about current forfeiture laws are concerns about fairness, the potential for law enforcement to abuse these laws and the potential for police to see forfeitures as a tool for raising funds.

A bill is being put forward here in Wisconsin that would make considerable changes to the state’s asset forfeiture laws. The bill aims to reform a wide range of aspects of these laws. Among the many things the reforms would affect are: what situations forfeitures could be brought in, how big of forfeitures can be made in a given case and where forfeiture proceeds would go (the bill would direct such funds towards schools rather than police).

If this bill were ultimately passed, one wonders what impacts the changes it would bring about would have on people accused of crimes in the state. One also wonders what impacts the changes would have on the conduct of police when it comes to forfeitures.

As this discussion illustrates, many different laws, including forfeiture laws, can have impacts on what consequences a person could be facing in relation to a given set of criminal allegations. Skilled lawyers can advise individuals accused of criminal activity on what exactly they are facing given the accusations leveled against them.

Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Bill would radically reform civil asset forfeiture,” Bruce Vielmetti, Jan. 23, 2017

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