How Will Wisconsin’s New Domestic Violence Legislation Help Protect Victims?

Categories: criminal defense

domestic violence

On April 11, 2016, Governor Scott Walker signed into law four new bills that make available several new protections for domestic violence and abuse victims in Wisconsin. The bills are also intended to provide victims with access to additional care and support, and follow the Governor’s provision of $5 million in additional state funding for domestic violence abuse grants in the biennial budget for 2015 to 2017.

The following is a brief overview of Wisconsin’s new domestic violence laws:

Assembly Bill 652 (Act 354)

Under Assembly Bill 652, enacted as Act 354, victims of domestic violence crimes for which the offender has been sentenced to prison have the right to receive notice if the offender’s release to parole or extended supervision is revoked. In order to receive notice, a victim must submit a request to the Department of Corrections (DOC). The DOC must attempt to send the notice to the victim’s last known address within 10 days of the revocation.

Assembly Bill 663 (Act 355)

Assembly Bill 663, enacted as Act 355, is largely intended to make it easier for domestic violence victims to collect restitution from offenders. It makes a number of changes to the existing restitution laws in order to achieve this purpose, including:

  • Allowing for collection of supervision fees only after any court-awarded restitution has been paid in full;
  • Allowing for collection of restitution from wages the offender earns while incarcerated;
  • Eliminating a 13-week garnishment provision which previously required victims to repeatedly seek to renew court orders; and,
  • Allowing the Department of Revenue to intercept tax refunds in order to satisfy offenders’ restitution obligations.

Assembly Bill 767 (Act 353)

Assembly Bill 767, enacted as Act 353, gives the Wisconsin courts the authority to order cell phone service providers to transfer phone numbers in connection with the issuance of injunctions involving domestic violence, child abuse, harassment, and individuals at risk. This includes numbers used by the petitioner and any minor children in the petitioner’s custody. Alternatively, the court may order that a cell phone company provide the petitioner with the right to use a number registered to the respondent (without actually transferring the number), provided that the petitioner also assumes responsibility for the monthly bill.

Senate Bill 488 (Act 356)

Finally, Senate Bill 488, enacted as Act 356, establishes a new Address Confidentiality Program for domestic violence survivors. Survivors who participate in the program will have the option to receive an assigned address from the Department of Justice (DOJ), and all mail received at the assigned address will then be forwarded to their actual address. The DOJ is prohibited from disclosing any participant’s actual address except under limited circumstances (such as pursuant to a court order). Participants in the Address Confidentiality Program can also request that their court records be kept private, and they have the option to participate in the existing confidential voter program which protects voters’ names and addresses from public disclosure.

Disclaimer: This Article Is Not Legal Advice.

Never rely on an article for legal advice as the law frequently changes, information may not be accurate, there may be exceptions to a rule, and reliance may be detrimental. Always consult one of our experienced attorneys for competent, current, and accurate legal advice.

Contact Crooks, Low & Connell, S.C. | Domestic Violence Attorneys in Wausau, WI

If you have questions or would like more information about Wisconsin’s new domestic violence laws, we invite you to contact us for a confidential consultation. Call Crooks, Low & Connell, S.C. at (715) 842-2291 or contact us online to speak with an attorney at our offices in Wausau, WI today.