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: 276
Total number of misdemeanor and felony cases: 708
Percent of misdemeanor and felony cases that include bail-jumping charges: 39%
Total number of felony cases with bail-jumping charges: 164*
Total number of all felony cases: 417
Percent of felony cases that include bail-jumping charges: 39%
Total number of misdemeanor cases with bail-jumping charges: 58
Total number of all misdemeanor cases: 291
Percent of misdemeanor cases that include bail-jumping charges: 20%
Largest number of bail-jumping charges issued in a single case: 9
Number of felony bail-jumping charges issued: 256
Number of misdemeanor bail-jumping charges issued: 316
*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. Criminal traffic cases are not included in this analysis.
Despite being underage, Ty J. Thom frequently drank alcohol. And despite having no driver’s license, Ty J. Thom frequently drove — at high speeds and while under the influence.
His various traffic infractions landed him with seven charges for misdemeanor bail jumping.
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 itself be a crime. Missing a court date, violating a local ordinance, having a drink, or driving without a valid license could all be bail-jumping offenses if bond conditions prohibit the activity.
Criminal complaints allege that Thom had at least five underage alcohol convictions between January and April 2020 and that by April 2021 his Department of Transportation driving record was 22 pages long.
Thom won’t turn 21 until 2023.
A string of criminal infractions started for Thom on August 19, 2020, at about 11:00 p.m., when he blew past a Dodge County sheriff’s deputy in the Town of Hustisford. Radar showed Thom’s Ford traveling at speeds from 93 to 96 mph.
When stopped by the deputy, Thom gave the deputy an identification card and admitted he didn’t have a license. Thom said he did not know how fast he was going because his speedometer stopped working after hitting 50 mph.
A check of Thom’s record showed a prior conviction for operating without a valid license.
On October 2, 2020, Thom was charged in a criminal traffic case with operating without a license (OWL) as a second offense within three years. The charge exposed Thom to 30 days in custody and a $300 fine.
Dodge County Commissioner Steven Seim released Thom a few days later on a $500 signature bond, with a condition that Thom not operate a motor vehicle without a valid Wisconsin driver’s license.
On November 2, 2020, Thom pleaded no contest to the charge. Dodge County Circuit Judge Martin De Vries approved a deferred prosecution agreement and withheld a finding of guilt. He continued the bond condition.
However, Thom did not stop driving without a valid license.
On January 8, 2021, a Ford F-250 pickup drove past two sheriff’s deputies who were handling a possibly impaired driver on a county road around 2:30 a.m.
After the truck passed by three times, with the occupants screaming, one of the deputies followed the truck and saw it had a defective brake light and crossed both the center line and white lane marker. Radar and the deputy’s speedometer showed the truck at 75 mph in a 55-mph zone.
The deputy conducted a traffic stop in the Town of Theresa. Thom, the driver, admitted he did not have a driver’s license.
The deputy thought Thom's speech was slurred, his eyes were glassy, and he smelled of alcohol.
When the deputy asked how much alcohol Thom drank that night and where he drank it, Thom said "enough" and "it's for me to know." He refused to complete field sobriety tests, but a preliminary breath test read .197.
Thom consented to a blood draw after he was arrested. He was not charged right away.
Meanwhile, Thom kept driving.
On January 13, 2021, a City of Beaver Dam police officer was monitoring traffic at 1:00 a.m. when he heard a loud engine revving and tires spinning against pavement. The officer then observed a Ford pickup traveling at high speed.
Dispatch had broadcast a prior complaint about a matching vehicle “doing ’burnouts’.” Dispatch indicated the plate number of the suspect vehicle and that it was recently purchased by Thom.
The officer knew Thom from previous police contacts and knew that Thom’s bond conditions restricted his operation of a motor vehicle.
The officer followed the truck and saw that the license plate matched the dispatch report. He saw a silver object like a beer can thrown from the passenger side of the truck.
The officer conducted a traffic stop and confirmed Thom was the driver. The officer saw an open beer can in the center console of the truck. None of the four passengers with Thom was age 21 or older.
The officer told Thom to step out of the car four times, but Thom did not comply. The officer then reached for Thom’s left wrist to gain control of him and direct him out of the truck, but Thom cocked his arm backwards.
The officer struck Thom to prevent being hit and to get Thom out of the truck.
Thom’s passengers told the officer that they had told Thom “not to ‘whip that donut’.”
Thom was taken to the Beaver Dam police station for sobriety tests, but he did not fully cooperate. He consented to a blood test.
Thom was charged criminally that same day with resisting an officer and misdemeanor bail jumping for violating the condition in the OWL case that he not operate a motor vehicle without a license.
The resisting charge and new bail-jumping charge each carried a maximum penalty of a $10,000 fine and nine months in jail.
Thom received municipal citations for first-offense operating while intoxicated (OWI-1st), operating with a suspended driver’s license, open intoxicants in a motor vehicle, and disorderly conduct with a motor vehicle.
On January 14, 2021, Seim again released Thom on a $500 signature bond with the condition that he not drive without a valid driver’s license.
Following the new charges, in February 2021 De Vries revoked the deferred prosecution agreement, found Thom guilty of the OWL charge, and imposed a $100 fine plus court costs.
Thom defaulted and was found guilty on the municipal citations on February 17, with a blood-alcohol finding of .169. On the OWI-1st conviction, the court revoked Thom’s license for eight months, ordered an ignition interlock device, and ordered him to pay $937.
Nevertheless, Thom kept driving.
On March 21, 2021, a Beaver Dam police officer was dispatched to Fleet Farm around 6:00 p.m. after a caller reported a Chevrolet Cobalt doing donuts in the parking lot. The caller provided a license plate number.
While en route, the officer saw a matching Cobalt drive past him. The officer stopped the car.
Thom was the driver and admitted he did not have a valid license.
The officer checked Thom’s record and found that his license had been revoked for the OWI-1st and that he was under a ban on driving from the conditions in the resisting-an-officer case.
Thom was charged on April 14, 2021, with operating a motor vehicle after revocation (OAR) plus misdemeanor bail jumping. The revocation charge exposed Thom to a $2,500 fine and one year in jail, while the bail-jumping charge added another possible $10,000 fine and nine months in jail.
In between that offense and criminal complaint, Thom was charged on March 29, 2021, with one count of misdemeanor bail jumping for driving on January 8 in violation of his release conditions in the OWL case.
Thom kept driving.
On April 26, 2021, at about 6:00 p.m. a sport motorcycle passed a police officer in his squad in the Town of Rubicon. Radar showed the motorcycle at 73 mph in a 55-mph zone.
The officer stopped the motorcycle, which Thom was driving. Thom said his speedometer was broken. He admitted he did not have a driver’s license, had never had a valid driver’s license, and did not have insurance.
The officer’s check of Thom’s driving record showed the revocation for the OWI-1st offense.
Thom was charged on June 8, 2021, with another OAR and misdemeanor bail jumping based on the conditions in his resisting case.
The complaint also included charges of second-offense operating while under the influence (OWI-2nd) and operating with a prohibited alcohol concentration (PAC), based on Thom’s January 8 conduct in the Town of Theresa. Those charges together carried a possible $350 to $1,100 fine and five days to six months in jail.
On June 8, 2021, Dodge County Circuit Judge Brian Pfitzinger set a $1000 cash bond for the OWI-2nd case and $500 signature bonds for the first OAR case and the bail-jumping case stemming from the January 8 conduct.
All bonds included conditions that Thom not drink and not operate a motor vehicle without a valid Wisconsin license. By statute, bail conditions include that the defendant not commit any new crime.
Thom posted $1000 the next day.
On August 7, 2021, a Dodge County sheriff’s deputy responded to a traffic complaint of a truck driving fast through a neighborhood. The deputy did not find the vehicle at the reported location but did see tire burn marks.
A witness described the vehicle as an older white Dodge Ram with large wheels and with two young males in the cab. The witness said the truck failed to stop at a stop sign.
The deputy noticed a party nearby at the Hustisford Town Hall and checked the parking lot, where he found an older white Ram with large tires. The truck did not have a front plate.
The deputy eventually saw four males, including Thom, outside the Ram. All denied driving or owning the vehicle.
The deputy checked the license plate. It was registered to a green Ford pickup whose owner said his front plate had gone missing.
The Ram’s vehicle identification number led to a man who said he’d sold the vehicle to Thom.
When questioned further, Thom was uncooperative about who owned the vehicle and whose plates were on it.
Prosecutors charged Thom on August 9, 2021, with one misdemeanor count of obstructing an officer and three misdemeanor bail-jumping charges for committing a crime while out on bail in the resisting, OAR, and bail-jumping (related to January 8) cases.
Thom posted $3,300 in cash bail on August 12, 2021.
On September 1, 2021, Thom resolved two cases with a plea agreement. He pleaded guilty to the resisting charge, one OAR charge, and one count of misdemeanor bail jumping. Another count of misdemeanor bail jumping was dismissed but “read in.”
Read-in charges are dismissed as part of a plea agreement, but the defendant agrees that the court can consider the charges at sentencing.
Pfitzinger sentenced Thom 24 months of probation, with 30 days in jail with work-release privileges, plus court costs, an alcohol assessment, and conditions that Thom maintain employment and absolute sobriety and not drive a vehicle without court approval.
Pfitzinger stayed the jail time for several months, and after questioning Thom at a hearing in March 2022 modified the judgment to eliminate the jail term.
On January 5, 2022, Thom resolved the remaining cases by pleading no contest to the OWI-2nd charge and one count of misdemeanor bail jumping. The PAC charge was dismissed. The second OAR charge, the obstruction charge, and four bail-jumping charges were dismissed but read in at sentencing.
Dodge County Circuit Judge Kristine Snow sentenced Thom to 20 days in jail with work-release privileges and $350 plus court costs on the OWI-2nd count. Thom received 18 months of probation on the misdemeanor bail-jumping count. Snow imposed conditions including 20 hours of community service and applied Thom’s cash bond payments to his fines, court costs, and surcharges.
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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