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Will Wisconsin have a white collar crime registry?

When you hear about criminal registries, you probably think about sex offenders. You may think these registries are designed with the intention of keeping the public safe from those that the justice system has deemed violent, including only those that could cause physical harm to the public.

The use of a criminal registry just for sex offenders may soon be a thing of the past. Some states are putting together similar registries for those who are convicted of white collar crimes.

What is a white collar crime?

The term "white collar crime" encompasses a number of criminal charges. These crimes are generally nonviolent, often involving allegations that one person used a position of trust to steal money from another. Embezzlement, tax fraud, mortgage fraud and insurance fraud are a few examples.

What is a white collar crime registry?

A registry is a central database, easily accessible to the public, which provides information about listed parties. This registry generally includes personal information about the individual convicted of a white collar crime, including a photo.

Proponents of the registries note that the information included within these registries is already publicly available. However, those against the registries point out that although the public could gain access to the information, the current structure does not allow for easy access. The ease of clicking through one website makes it much more likely that the information found within the site will be readily available. This could result in the information being used against anyone included in the registry.

What are the potential implications in Wisconsin?

Although there is not currently a white collar crime registry in the state, lawmakers in Wisconsin may consider using a similar system. Regardless, the use of these systems provides yet another reason for those who are charged with a white collar crime to take the charges seriously.

Even nonviolent crimes like these can come with serious penalties, both criminal and civil in nature. Criminal penalties can include steep monetary fines and potential imprisonment. Civil penalties include a tarnished reputation and difficulty finding future employment.

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