Brown County bail-jumping charges left nonviolent drug offender facing more than a century in prison
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: 1,233*
Total number of misdemeanor and felony cases: 3,346
Percent of misdemeanor and felony cases that include bail-jumping charges: 37%
Total number of felony cases with bail-jumping charges: 959**
Total number of all felony cases: 2,178
Percent of felony cases that include bail-jumping charges: 44%
Total number of misdemeanor cases with bail-jumping charges: 274
Total number of all misdemeanor cases: 1,168
Percent of misdemeanor cases that include bail-jumping charges: 23%
Largest number of bail-jumping charges issued in a single case: 12
Number of felony bail-jumping charges issued: 1,465
Number of misdemeanor bail-jumping charges issued: 845
* Excludes three criminal traffic misdemeanor cases that include bail-jumping charges. Criminal traffic charges are not included in this analysis.
**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.
This is how piled-on bail-jumping charges meant a nonviolent, sometimes homeless serial drug offender named Adren ended up facing a possible century or more in prison.
Bail-jumping charges long have been criticized by defense attorneys as a hammer used by prosecutors to coerce defendants into plea agreements they might otherwise reject. Other critics argue that the charges are filed to puff up caseload numbers, putting local prosecutors' offices in a better position to ask for more money and staff. Prosecutors reject those arguments.
Before looking at decades in prison (spoiler alert: he didn't get them), Adren, now 31, had a drug problem and a history. The 2021 part of that history started when Adren was the passenger in a car pulled over in February by an Ashwaubenon police officer because its license plates didn't match those of any car on the road.
Adren had been convicted of felony possession of methamphetamine the year before in a case that involved .02 grams of the drug, according to the criminal complaint. Brown County Circuit Judge Donald R. Zuidmulder sentenced him in November 2020 to 30 months' probation.
He also was convicted, in a separate case, of misdemeanor obstructing an officer and misdemeanor bail jumping. He was homeless at the time he was charged, according to the criminal complaint. Zuidmulder sentenced Adren to two years' probation in that case.
Adren was charged again in December 2020 with felony meth possession and misdemeanor paraphernalia possession. He was out on a $5,000 signature bond when stopped by the Ashwaubenon officer.
The driver of the car Adren was in did not stop for almost a quarter of a mile after police tried to pull it over, according to the criminal complaint. That led an officer to request a canine sniff of the car (another problematic police practice). The dog indicated the presence of drugs and a search ensued, turning up some meth in Adren's sock and a meth pipe. The complaint does not list the amount of meth involved.
Adren was charged with meth possession as a repeater, a designation that could add up to four years to the 3½-year sentence maximum. He also was charged with felony bail jumping as a repeater, which could add four years to the six-year maximum sentence.
Felony bail jumping occurs when a person out on bond on a felony charge violates the conditions of that bond. Misdemeanor bail jumping occurs when a person out on bond on a misdemeanor charge violates the conditions of that bond.
A bail-jumping offense may not by itself be a crime. Missing a court date, violating a local ordinance, or having a drink could all be bail-jumping offenses if bond conditions prohibit those things.
Misdemeanor bail jumping carries a maximum penalty of nine months in jail and a $10,000 fine; felony bail jumping carries a maximum penalty of six years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Under Wisconsin law, a person charged with a crime can be considered a repeater if the person was convicted of a felony during the five-year period immediately preceding the commission of the new alleged crime or if the person was convicted of a misdemeanor on three separate occasions during that same period.
Adren qualified as a repeater because he had been convicted of felony meth possession. He qualified for the felony bail jumping because he was out on bond in the December 2020 meth case. In all, he faced 17½ years in prison on the new charges, according to the complaint.
Brown County Court Commissioner Cynthia Vopal set a $5,000 signature bond. Adren at first refused to sign the bond, but did so three days later, according to online court records.
In April, 2021, Adren caught another case that exposed him to an additional 22 years and nine months behind bars. Bail-jumping charges were again involved. The underlying crime? For a brief time, he misidentified himself to a Green Bay police officer.
Police were dispatched to a Shell gas station to check out a suspicious vehicle that had been parked for 30 minutes. Adren, along with at least two other people, was ordered out of the car.
"I asked the male was his name was (sic) and he informed me it was Michal...Smith" and that he was born in 1990," the criminal complaint said. "The male was seated in the back seat of my patrol vehicle on the passenger's side. The male informed me that his his names (sic) actually was Adren --."
Adren was charged with misdemeanor obstructing an officer and two counts of felony bail jumping, all as repeaters. He was accused again of violating the bond conditions of the December meth / paraphernalia case. He also was charged with violating the bond conditions of the February meth / bail-jumping case. The maximum prison terms were two years and nine months for the obstructing charge and 10 years each on the bail-jumping charges.
Brown County Court Commissioner Chad Resar set a $1,000 cash bail on April 13. Circuit Judge John P. Zakowski reduced the bond to $250 on July 23 and reduced it again, to $100, on Sept. 24. The $100 was posted on Oct. 7.
Meanwhile, in May, Judge Zuidmulder revoked Adren's probation in his first methamphetamine case and the misdemeanor bail-jumping and obstructing case and sentenced him to 6 months in jail with work release privileges.
In November, Adren was busted with a whopping 1.65 grams of marijuana in the car he was driving. Police also found a pipe and a grinder, a tool used to break cannabis into smaller and consistently sized pieces. He was charged with possession of marijuana as a repeater, possession of paraphernalia as a repeater, and three counts of felony bail jumping – for violating his bond in each of his 2021 cases – all as a repeater. He faced a maximum of 34 years and seven months in prison and fines totaling more than $30,000.
He was represented in his cases by the State Public Defender's office, an indication of poverty.
Brown County Court Commissioner Paul E. Burke set a $1,500 cash bond. Adren did not post it.
Prosecutors in November charged Adren again, this time for selling four grams of meth to a confidential informant in two separate deals that occurred the previous March and April. This time, charged with two counts of meth delivery as a repeater, and four counts of felony bail jumping, he faced up to 75½ years in prison.
Burke set a $5,000 cash bond. Adren remained in jail. He faced more than a century in prison on the two November cases alone.
In May and June of this year, Adren moved forward with his outstanding cases in a way that could resolve them without any prison time at all. He was accepted into drug treatment court. Under that program, non-violent drug offenders are placed on three years of probation with 90 days of conditional jail time either imposed or stayed. Their cases remain in court for at least a year before the participants graduate.
He also entered into a deferred prosecution agreement in the almost-35-year marijuana case. Under the agreement, he pleaded guilty to one count of felony bail jumping with sentencing deferred for three years. If he successfully completes drug court and probation, the case will be dismissed.
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