To study bail jumping in Wisconsin, WJI and the Mastantuono Coffee & Thomas law firm are looking 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: 199
Total number of misdemeanor and felony cases: 649
Percent of misdemeanor and felony cases that include bail-jumping charges: 31%
Total number of felony cases with bail-jumping charges: 138*
Total number of all felony cases: 412
Percent of felony cases that include bail-jumping charges: 33%
Total number of misdemeanor cases with bail-jumping charges: 61
Total number of all misdemeanor cases: 237
Percent of misdemeanor cases that include bail-jumping charges: 26%
Largest number of bail-jumping charges issued in a single case: 7
Number of felony bail-jumping charges issued: 189
Number of misdemeanor bail-jumping charges issued: 147
*Felony cases can include felony or misdemeanor bail-jumping charges or both; misdemeanor cases can include only misdemeanor bail-jumping charges. Case counts reported as of January 2022.
Sam's first felony bail-jumping charge had roots in his June 2019 arrest and April 2020 charges for felony second-offense possession with intent to deliver methamphetamine, misdemeanor obstructing an officer, and two counts of misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.
Sam, now 56, was busted on a warrant. When police tried to take him into custody at a gas station, he resisted, though he eventually was cuffed, according to the criminal complaint.
Sam told the officer "he believed the warrant for him was unjustified, as he only missed one appointment with his (supervision) agent."
Police searched Sam's car and found 25 unused gem bags in the glove compartment.
Later, at the jail, Sam told one of the officers, "I should have beat your ass," according to the complaint.
Police also searched Sam's house, where they found a lone Superman sock, one that matched another found in the squad used to transport Sam earlier.
Police found meth and a meth pipe in the sock at Sam's house and five bullets. All together, police found 3.56 grams of meth.
Barron County Circuit Judge J.M. Bitney set a $5,000 signature bond and Sam was released.
All was well until about 18 months later when Sam was arrested again and charged with another second-offense possession with intent to deliver methamphetamine. He also was charged with felony second-offense delivery of methamphetamine and felony bail jumping. The bail-jumping charge was a felony because the underlying charge, the April 2020 methamphetamine charge, was a felony.
Police caught on to Sam again when they questioned a different dealer who said he "got high" in exchange for helping people out "here and there" in obtaining drugs, according to the criminal complaint. He also told them Sam was his source of drugs.
The dealer cooperated with police in setting Sam up. Sam arrived at the dealer's house with 6.7 grams of meth in his car. Police were waiting.
Barron County Circuit Judge James C. Babler on Jan. 26 set a $200 cash bond for Sam but Sam did not post it. On Feb. 17, Babler modified the bond to allow Sam out of jail to receive treatment, according to online court records. Sam completed treatment and the judge – this time Bitney – allowed Sam to be released on a $1,000 signature bond. He ordered Sam to maintain absolute sobriety and not to possess alcohol. The prosecution did not object, according to court records.
In December, Sam was arrested again, this time on a misdemeanor charge of obstructing an officer, which carries a maximum sentence of nine months in jail and a $10,000 fine; and felony bail jumping, which carries a maximum penalty of six years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
In this case, police trying to track Sam down in connection with a potential domestic violence incident learned that he had a felony warrant issued by the Department of Corrections "in connection with his probationary status," the complaint said.
They found him at a hotel, but he refused to unlock his door. Sam "stated that he had done nothing wrong and was going to contact his probation officer," the complaint said.
Officers turned to hotel staff for help getting into Sam's room, but the staff couldn't find a master key.
"The officers ultimately had to utilize a forced entry into the motel room to take [Sam] into custody," the complaint said.
Sam was not charged in the alleged domestic abuse incident.
Bitney this time set a $2,500 signature bond.
Sam eventually reached a plea agreement in the two 2021 cases. He pleaded guilty in March of this year to one count of possession with intent to deliver methamphetamines. The remaining charges, including the bail-jumping charges, were dismissed but read into the record.
Babler sentenced him in April to nine years in prison and three years of extended supervision.
Sam went to trial in February of this year on the 2020 charges and was convicted by a jury on all counts. He was sentenced by Barron County Circuit Judge Maureen D. Boyle to five years of probation to be served after he finishes his sentence for the 2021 cases. Boyle stayed a sentence of three years in prison and three years of extended supervision.
Sam was represented by the State Public Defender's Office in all his cases, indicating poverty.
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.
Help WJI advocate for justice in Wisconsin