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Walker ups penalties for threatening, harming prosecutors

Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill Wednesday that will subject anyone who beats up or threatens a prosecutor to the same penalties as someone who similarly harasses a judge or law-enforcement officer.

Under current law, a person who beats up or threatens a judge or law-enforcement officer who is acting in an official capacity can be found guilty of a Class H felony and be made either to pay a fine of up to $10,000 or to spend up to six years in prison. The bill signed Wednesday gives prosecutors and their family members the same protection. An amendment extends the same penalties to those who threaten or harm former judges, prosecutors and law-enforcement officers.

The amendment also makes the heightened penalties apply when someone feels provoked to aggression by a particular prosecutor, judge or law-enforcement officer but then goes on to threaten or cause harm to another official. The amendment also eliminates a provision that stated the penalties would not apply unless an official were acting in his official capacity at the time when a threat was made or harm was inflicted.

Similar legislation – Assembly Bill 347 – would add public defenders to the group of officials who receive heightened protection from threats and harm. That bill was voted out of the state Assembly last month and now only needs the Senate’s approval and the governor’s signature to become law.

About Dan Shaw, [email protected]

Dan Shaw is the managing editor at the Wisconsin Law Journal. He can be reached at [email protected] or at 414-225-1807.

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