CHAPTER 778
COLLECTION OF FORFEITURES
778.01   Action for forfeitures.
778.015   Applicability in circuit court.
778.02   Action in name of state; complaint; attachment.
778.027   Prosecution decisions based on contributions to certain organizations or agencies and government attorney conduct.
778.03   Complaint to recover forfeited goods.
778.04   Plaintiffs; costs.
778.06   Action for what sum.
778.09   Judgment, costs, commitment of defendant.
778.10   Municipal forfeitures, how recovered.
778.103   Traffic regulation forfeitures; how recovered.
778.104   Department of natural resources forfeitures; how recovered.
778.105   Disposition of forfeitures.
778.11   Duty of town officers.
778.12   Duty of district attorney.
778.13   Forfeitures collected, to whom paid.
778.135   Campaign finance, lobbying, and ethics forfeitures; how recovered.
778.14   Treasurers to collect.
778.15   Payment to county treasurer.
778.16   Neglect of duty.
778.17   Statement to county board; payment to state.
778.18   Penalty upon municipal judge.
778.19   Recovery of property forfeited to state.
778.195   Clerk's fees.
778.20   Who liable for costs.
778.25   Citation procedure for certain limited violations.
778.26   Citation procedure; violation of land trespass laws.
778.30   Collection of forfeitures and related charges by assignment.
778.01 778.01 Action for forfeitures. Where a forfeiture imposed by statute shall be incurred it may be recovered in a civil action unless the act or omission is punishable by fine and imprisonment or by fine or imprisonment. The word forfeiture, as used in this chapter, includes any penalty, in money or goods.
778.01 History History: 1979 c. 32 s. 56; Stats. 1979 s. 778.01.
778.01 Cross-reference Cross-reference: For forfeitures imposed by city or village ordinance, see s. 66.0114.
778.01 Annotation For a forfeiture action to accrue against a nonresident owner of a building that is in violation of the state building code, the violator should receive notice of the violations. Notice need not be actual, but must be reasonably calculated to inform the building owner with respect to the violation. State v. James, 47 Wis. 2d 600, 177 N.W.2d 864 (1970).
778.01 Annotation The definition of forfeiture in this section applies only to ch. 288 [now ch. 778]. State v. Mando Enterprises, Inc. 56 Wis. 2d 801, 203 N.W.2d 64 (1973).
778.01 Annotation This section does not preclude prosecution under a statute punishable only by forfeiture in the same action with criminal charges. State v. Johnston, 184 Wis. 2d 794, 518 N.W.2d 759 (1994).
778.01 Annotation A judgment for payment of a forfeiture can be docketed, accumulates interest, and may be enforced through collection remedies available in other civil proceedings. OAG 2-95.
778.015 778.015 Applicability in circuit court. This chapter applies to actions in circuit court. The procedure in ss. 778.14, 778.15 and 778.18 and ch. 800 applies to actions in municipal court.
778.015 History History: 1977 c. 305; 1977 c. 449 s. 497; 1979 c. 32 ss. 56, 92 (8), (17); Stats. 1979 s. 778.015.
778.02 778.02 Action in name of state; complaint; attachment. Every such forfeiture action shall be in the name of the state of Wisconsin, and it is sufficient to allege in the complaint that the defendant is indebted to the plaintiff in the amount of the forfeiture claimed, according to the provisions of the statute that imposes it, specifying the statute, plus costs, fees, and surcharges imposed under ch. 814. If the statute imposes a forfeiture for several offenses or delinquencies, the complaint shall specify the particular offense or delinquency for which the action is brought, with a demand for judgment for the amount of the forfeiture, plus costs, fees, and surcharges imposed under ch. 814. If the defendant is a nonresident of the state, an attachment may issue.
778.02 History History: 1977 c. 29; 1979 c. 32 s. 56; Stats. 1979 s. 778.02; 1987 a. 27; 1989 a. 107; 1991 a. 39; 1993 a. 16; 1997 a. 27; 1999 a. 9; 2001 a. 16; 2003 a. 139.
778.027 778.027 Prosecution decisions based on contributions to certain organizations or agencies and government attorney conduct. A prosecutor or an attorney representing the state or a political subdivision of the state may not, in exchange for a person's payment of money, other than restitution, to any organization or agency, dismiss or amend a citation or complaint alleging a violation that provides for a forfeiture or elect not to initiate an action or special proceeding based on such a violation.
778.027 History History: 1999 a. 58, 186; 2007 a. 84.
778.027 Annotation A prosecutor may engage in negotiations relating to a defendant's reimbursement of blood withdrawal expenses, but a prosecutor may not, as a result of a defendant's payment or offer of payment of blood withdrawal expenses, dismiss or amend the charge, citation, or complaint or forego the initiation of a criminal prosecution, action, or special proceeding based on the violation. OAG 11-09.
778.03 778.03 Complaint to recover forfeited goods. In an action to recover property forfeited by any statute it shall be sufficient to allege in the complaint that the property has been forfeited, specifying the statute, with a demand of judgment for the delivery of the property, or the value of the property and for payment of the costs, fees, and surcharges imposed under ch. 814.
778.03 History History: 1977 c. 29; 1979 c. 32 s. 56; Stats. 1979 s. 778.03; 1987 a. 27; 1989 a. 107; 1991 a. 39; 1993 a. 16; 1997 a. 27; 1999 a. 9; 2001 a. 16; 2003 a. 139.
778.04 778.04 Plaintiffs; costs. In case a portion of any forfeiture belongs or is payable to any person, the person may join with the state as plaintiff; and in such case, if judgment is rendered for the defendant, it shall be against such person solely. Such person may be compelled to give security for costs as in ordinary civil actions.
778.04 History History: 1979 c. 32 s. 56; 1979 c. 176; Stats. 1979 s. 778.04.
778.06 778.06 Action for what sum. When a forfeiture is imposed, not exceeding a specific sum or when it is not less than one sum or more than another, the action may be brought for the highest sum specified, plus costs, fees, and surcharges imposed under ch. 814; and judgment may be rendered for such sum as the court or jury shall assess or determine to be proportionate to the offense.
778.06 History History: 1977 c. 29; 1979 c. 32 s. 56; Stats. 1979 s. 778.06; 1987 a. 27; 1989 a. 107; 1991 a. 39; 1993 a. 16; 1997 a. 27; 1999 a. 9; 2001 a. 16; 2003 a. 139.
778.06 Annotation When a city neither disputed its violation of an order nor denied that the state was entitled to a forfeiture to the extent of its violation of the order, it was error for the trial court to utilize this section to justify the imposition of a forfeiture less than the statutory minimum. State v. City of Monona, 63 Wis. 2d 67, 216 N.W.2d 230 (1974).
778.09 778.09 Judgment, costs, commitment of defendant. Where judgment is recovered pursuant to this chapter it shall include costs and direct that if the judgment is not paid the defendant, if an individual, shall be imprisoned in the county jail for a specified time, not exceeding 6 months, or until otherwise discharged pursuant to law. The commitment shall issue, as in ordinary criminal actions, and the defendant shall not be entitled to the liberties of the jail.
778.09 History History: 1979 c. 32 s. 56; Stats. 1979 s. 778.09; 1997 a. 254.
778.10 778.10 Municipal forfeitures, how recovered. All forfeitures imposed by any ordinance or regulation of any county, town, city, or village, or of any other domestic corporation may be sued for and recovered, under this chapter, in the name of the county, town, city, village, or corporation. It is sufficient to allege in the complaint that the defendant is indebted to the plaintiff in the amount of the forfeiture claimed, specifying the ordinance or regulation that imposes it, plus costs, fees, and surcharges imposed under ch. 814. If the ordinance or regulation imposes a penalty or forfeiture for several offenses or delinquencies, the complaint shall specify the particular offenses or delinquency for which the action is brought, with a demand for judgment for the amount of the forfeiture, plus costs, fees, and surcharges imposed under ch. 814. All moneys collected on the judgment shall be paid to the treasurer of the county, town, city, village, or corporation, except that all jail surcharges imposed under ch. 814 shall be paid to the county treasurer.
778.10 History History: 1977 c. 29; 1979 c. 32 s. 56; Stats. 1979 s. 778.10; 1987 a. 27; 1989 a. 107; 1991 a. 39; 1993 a. 16; 1997 a. 27; 1999 a. 9; 2001 a. 16; 2003 a. 139.
778.10 Annotation A judgment for payment of a forfeiture can be docketed, accumulates interest, and may be enforced through collection remedies available in other civil proceedings. OAG 2-95.
778.103 778.103 Traffic regulation forfeitures; how recovered. Where there is a conflict with this chapter, the procedure in ch. 345 shall be followed in actions to recover forfeitures for the violation of traffic regulations as defined in s. 345.20, and the procedures in ss. 345.28 and 345.34 to 345.47 shall be followed in actions to recover forfeitures for nonmoving traffic violations as defined in s. 345.28 (1).
778.103 History History: 1971 c. 278; 1979 c. 32 s. 56; Stats. 1979 s. 778.103; 1981 c. 165.
778.104 778.104 Department of natural resources forfeitures; how recovered. If there is a conflict with this chapter, the procedure in ss. 23.50 to 23.85 shall be followed in actions to recover forfeitures for the violation of those natural resources laws enumerated in s. 23.50.
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2015-16 Wisconsin Statutes updated through 2017 Wis. Act 57 and all Supreme Court and Controlled Substances Board Orders effective on or before August 11, 2017. Published and certified under s. 35.18. Changes effective after August 11, 2017 are designated by NOTES. (Published 8-11-17)