Bail and bond are essentially interchangeable words. However, in Wisconsin court proceedings and forms it will be referred to as bond. The only time it is referred to as bail is when someone takes a bail jumping charge. The theory is that bail/bond guarantees the appearance of the defendant in court when required. While the Constitution guarantees the right to reasonable bail, a court may deny bail in cases charging murder or treason, or when there is a danger that the defendant will flee or commit mayhem.
How is Bail Set & Posted?
Bail is set by the judge on the particular case. They set the Bail/bond at $XYZ and it is up to the defendant to post bail/bond. If a defense attorney is retained prior to charging, they may be able to talk with the district attorneys office to come to an agreement on what the State will ask for bail but the decision is the judges. While some states have bail bondsman, they are not permitted to operate in the Wisconsin.
Types of Bonds
There are two types of bond in the state of Wisconsin:
- Signature bond is typically only on lower level charges and to people without a criminal record. The defendant would sign the signature bond and be required to adhere to all conditions. Any violations of these conditions can result in the defendant being taken into custody and owing the state the amount of his signature bond. The judge makes the decision whether or not signature bond is appropriate in each case, not the district attorney or defense attorney.
- Cash bond is exactly what it sounds like – the amount of the bond must be posted in full. (States with bondman will sometimes have you only post 10%, so if it is 100,000 you need to put down 10,000. In Wisconsin the bond would likely just be set at 10,000). Bond can be posted with cash, check, credit card. It should be noted if bond is posted using a credit card you will likely incur a substantial fee for processing.
Bail conditions typically include all of the following:
- Showing up to all court appearances
- Keeping the court appraised of your current address
- No new criminal activity
- No contact ordered with the victim and witnesses (in Domestic Violence cases)
Other conditions that we see imposed are absolute sobriety clauses, surrendering of firearms, and can include other conditions as they relate to specific cases.
If the amount of the bail is an amount the defendant is not able to post or there are conditions that the defendant would like lifted it is possible alter the bail, this is done so by a defense attorney filing what is called a Motion to Modify Bond. In some instances a defense attorney can have bond conditions changed or the amount of the bond reduced, but it will be dependent on the set of facts of the case as well as what conditions are being asked for.
Bail jumping occurs when a person violates any of the conditions of their bail. Common examples include:
- When a person fails to show up for a court appearance
- If they violate any of their bond conditions
- If they take any new criminal charges
Bail jumping charges range from misdemeanors to felonies. The exact charge is often dependent on the offender’s original charge. For example, if the bail jumper was initially charged with a felony OWI, the charge for jumping bail would likely be a felony as well. Likewise for misdemeanor charges. If the defendant fails to show up for a court appearance or violates the conditions of their bond, the State will likely charge the defendant with additional counts of bail jumping. Even if your original charges are dropped or you are acquitted at trial, you can still be charged and convicted of the bail jumping charges.