MADISON, Wisc. (Feb. 22, 2018) – Yesterday, the Wisconsin Assembly gave final approval to a bill that would reform the state’s asset forfeiture laws to prohibit the state from taking property without a criminal conviction in most situations. The legislation also takes a small, but important step toward closing a federal loophole that allows police to circumvent strict state forfeiture laws by passing cases off to the feds.
Sen. Dave Craig, (R-Town of Vernon), along with a bipartisan coalition of 26 legislators, introduced Senate Bill 61 (SB61) last year and it carried over to the 2018 session. The legislation would reform Wisconsin law by requiring a criminal conviction before prosecutors could proceed with asset forfeiture in most situations. It would also raise the evidentiary requirement for forfeiture from a preponderance of evidence to clear and convincing evidence.
The proposed law would require forfeiture money to primarily go into the state Common School Fund, but would allow police to keep up to 50 percent of proceeds “for administrative expenses of seizure, maintenance of custody, advertising and court costs and the costs of investigation and prosecution reasonably incurred.”
On Tuesday, the Senate passed SB61 by a 22-10 vote. Yesterday, …
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