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Forfeiture — Vehicle Used in Crime — Proportionality Test

State v. William W. Boyd, 2000 WI App 208, 238 Wis.2d 693, 618 N.W.2d 251

Issue: Whether forfeiture of the entire value of a $28,000 vehicle which transported a weapon used in a crime was excessive, especially in light of the maximum fine of $10,000 for the crime.

Holding: Applying the proportionality test mandated by United States v. Bajakajian, 524 U.S. 314 (1998), imposing “full forfeiture” of the vehicle’s entire amount would be excessive; forfeiture of $10,000 (the maximum fine for the underlying offense) was proportionate. ¶17.

In high dudgeon over a couple of OWI arrests, Boyd shot up the Elkhart Lake police station. Because he used his pick-up to get to and from the crime scene, the truck became forfeiture fodder, § 973.075(1)(b)1m.a. Forfeiture under this provision is subject to the Excessive Fines clause, the test for which is found in Bajakajian, and which the court applies as follows:

¶17 Although we acknowledge that Boyd’s conduct was a serious offense, we nonetheless conclude that imposing the full forfeiture would be an excessive fine. The harm that Boyd caused was minimal and will be sufficiently satisfied from the reduced forfeiture amount of $10,000. As the State points out, Boyd’s conduct was highly unusual ‘because not many people in Sheboygan County fire shots into police stations.’ The purpose of the forfeiture statute-to deter offenders from using their vehicles to commit a felony-is not significantly impacted as this is a situation not likely to recur. The full forfeiture amount is also significantly greater than the crime’s maximum fine. Weighing all these factors, we hold that a full forfeiture would be grossly disproportionate to the gravity of the offense and affirm the circuit court’s reduction of the forfeiture amount.


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