To study bail jumping in Wisconsin, WJI and the Mastantuono Coffee & Thomas law firm will look county by county at 2021 bail-jumping charges. Which counties are charging bail jumping the most? Who are some of the defendants? What happens to those cases? We'll report the statistics from individual counties and tell you the stories from randomly chosen cases.
Total number of cases with bail-jumping charges: 148
Total number of misdemeanor and felony cases: 439
Percent of misdemeanor and felony cases that include bail-jumping charges: 34%
Total number of felony cases with bail-jumping charges: 110*
Total number of all felony cases: 262
Percent of felony cases that include bail-jumping charges: 42%
Total number of misdemeanor cases with bail-jumping charges: 38
Total number of all misdemeanor cases: 177
Percent of misdemeanor cases that include bail-jumping charges: 21%
Largest number of bail-jumping charges issued in a single case: 10
Number of felony bail-jumping charges issued: 198
Number of misdemeanor bail-jumping charges issued: 149
*Felony cases can include felony or misdemeanor bail-jumping charges or both; misdemeanor cases can include only misdemeanor bail-jumping charges.
Joe's legal troubles began in November 2020, when he allegedly kicked and dented his girlfriend's car, then went to their apartment where he broke a door and damaged a shower and kitchen wall, according to a criminal complaint.
Joe was charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct/domestic abuse and misdemeanor criminal damage to property.
Circuit Judge Kelly J. McKnight set a $2,000 signature bond and $200 cash bond. He also ordered Joe to have no contact with his girlfriend, BJ, and to stay away from the apartment where they both had been living. McKnight later, with BJ's consent, limited the no-contact order to a no-abusive-contact order.
In February 2021, Joe pleaded no contest to both counts and entered a deferred prosecution agreement, according to online court records. He also agreed to pay $3,100 in restitution. He was represented by the State Public Defender's Office in his cases, indicating poverty.
In August, Joe faced new domestic-abuse related charges. He was hit on Aug. 12 with four counts related to a May 15 incident involving BJ. He also was charged the same day with three domestic abuse counts for an Aug. 5 incident, again involving BJ.
In the May case, which BJ told police about on the day it happened, Joe allegedly smashed her phone, pulled her hair, and head-butted her, according to the complaint. He also called her derogatory names and said she was "fat" and "psychotic," BJ told police.
BJ told officers that Joe "was a meth user and he had not used for a couple of days."
He got upset, she said, when she tossed him her phone and it went over his shoulder.
Joe was charged with misdemeanor battery/domestic abuse, disorderly conduct/domestic abuse, criminal damage to property, and bail jumping.
Regarding the August instance, according to the complaint, BJ told police she went out with her girlfriends the night before, leaving her children in Joe's care. When she returned, Joe was upset, grabbed her hair, and punched her twice. She left with the children and learned later in the day that Joe had skipped work and was still at the residence. BJ said Joe also had pulled her hair shortly before police arrived and that he had damaged the bathroom door.
BJ "stated that she believed (Joe) may seriously injure or kill her," the complaint said. She also said that Joe "consumed meth a day ago, and that he usually gets crabby if he does not have it for a day."
Joe was charged with more misdemeanors – battery/domestic abuse, disorderly conduct/domestic abuse, criminal damage to property, and misdemeanor bail jumping.
This time, McKnight set a $750 cash bond and a $2,000 signature bond to cover both cases. McKnight ordered Joe to stay away from the woman and the apartment, and he extended Joe's deferred prosecution agreement, according to online records.
Joe posted bond and was released but was back in court in October, this time facing a felony charge – at least at first.
Police responded Oct. 3 to a man with a gun at BJ's residence, according to the criminal complaint. When police arrived, Joe ran out the back door right at them. He complied with orders to get on the ground.
He told police that he had stopped by to give BJ some cash and see his daughter "but when he got there he found that his daughter was not there. (Joe) stated that he (then) grabbed a gun in the apartment."
BJ said she thought Joe might have wanted to kill her, but Joe said "he wasn't hurting anyone but was thinking about killing himself," according to the complaint.
BJ "yelled at (Joe), asking him if he was going to kill himself with an eight-year-old there," the complaint said.
Police saw that one of the locks on a case where BJ kept guns had been opened.
Joe was charged with felony burglary while armed with a dangerous weapon, misdemeanor criminal trespass, and misdemeanor bail jumping.
McKnight ordered a $750 cash bond and a $2,000 signature bond, according to court records. He again ordered Joe not to have contact with BJ and to stay away from her residence, though that again was modified later to a no-abusive-contact order. The judge also ordered Joe to maintain absolute sobriety and prohibited him from possessing weapons, according to court records.
At the preliminary hearing, McKnight found that there was not enough probable cause to merit the felony charge and it was amended to misdemeanor disorderly conduct.
In November, McKnight issued a bench warrant for Joe and ordered his bail amounts forfeited, but he vacated the order after Joe was charged in two new domestic violence and bail-jumping cases in January 2022.
McKnight has vacated the deferred prosecution agreement in the 2020 case and sentencing is set for June 7.
Our methodology: WJI and Mastantuono Coffee & Thomas determined the number of felony and misdemeanor bail-jumping cases and charges in each county through court data. The total number of felony and misdemeanor cases filed in a county was obtained through the state's online court system. Cases selected for the "case file" section are chosen randomly through a random number-generator web site. The intent of the project is to show a variety of bail-jumping cases.
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