According to a recent study by the Institute for Justice, the state of Wisconsin scores above average, but not as well asset could when it comes to the issue of civil asset forfeiture. We’ve previously spoken about civil asset forfeiture in general, and how it can impact bankruptcy.
The study noted that Wisconsin could particularly stand to improve in the area of transparency. Under Wisconsin, law enforcement agencies are not required to keep track of publicly report their activity in the area of asset forfeiture, leaving unnecessary room for abuse of the process. A brief look at the statistics reveals that police agencies are very active with the process, and received over $51 million through participation in a U.S. Department of Justice cooperative program between 2000 and 2013. That is the 28th highest amount in the nation.
The Institute for Justice reportedly gave Wisconsin points for laws which stop law enforcement agencies from taking direct possession of seized property. Wisconsin agencies can still participate in “equitable sharing” with the federal government, though.
As we’ve noted before, both creditors and debtors should seek experienced legal counsel when they become involved in a bankruptcy case where the debtor has had assets seized by a law enforcement agency. For debtors, getting seized assets back in their possession is a priority. For creditors, the concern is ensuring that their right to payment from the debtor is advocated to the fullest possible extent, particularly if they are a victim of the debtor’s alleged criminal activity.