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.
Misdemeanor bail jumping occurs when a person out on bond on a misdemeanor charge violates the conditions of that bond. Felony bail jumping occurs when a person out on bond on a felony 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 using an illegal drug could all be bail-jumping offenses if bond conditions prohibit the activity.
Largest number of bail-jumping charges issued in a single case: 10
Number of felony bail-jumping charges issued: 155
Number of misdemeanor bail-jumping charges issued: 60
*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.
Domestic disputes, anger, and threats of self-harm landed Keyan Watts with disorderly conduct and property damage charges plus three misdemeanor bail-jumping charges.
Watts had been acting strangely at work at the Brick Lot Bar and Grill the evening of January 20, 2021. A co-worker thought Watts was under the influence of something other than alcohol.
The friend accompanied Watts home around 12:40 a.m. Watt’s girlfriend thought Watts was drunk and belligerent, and she went to the garage to smoke a cigarette. She was trying to avoid an argument because their children were sleeping. The two had been arguing off and on for several days.
Watts followed her to the garage and swore at her. When the girlfriend shut the door to the garage, Watts punched through a window in the door.
Watts and his friend left the house for the emergency room, where Watts received stitches and a splint for his hand. The friend wanted Watts to stay with him but Watts refused. The two returned to Watts’ house but Watts’ girlfriend had locked the doors.
Sturgeon Bay police responded after Watts called them to report being locked out. The officers thought Watts was intoxicated, as he slurred his speech and swayed.
After talking with the girlfriend, the officers tried to persuade Watts to go his friend’s house, but Watts started yelling at the officers to arrest him. After Watts walked away down the street yelling and swearing, the officers indeed arrested him.
Watts was charged later that day with domestic-abuse disorderly conduct and criminal damage to property, both as a repeater due to his prior drug-possession felony. Both charges were misdemeanors but the repeater allegation increased potential custody on each count to two years, with potential fines of $1,000 and $10,000.
Door County Circuit Judge David Weber set cash bail at $250 with several conditions. He ordered Watts to maintain absolute sobriety, not possess or consume alcohol, not possess controlled substances without a prescription, have no violent contact with his girlfriend, and not go to bars or taverns except for work.
Watts’ mother posted bail for him.
On March 27, 2021, Watts’ mother called Sturgeon Bay police to report that Watts was having a meltdown and threatening suicide over a dispute with his girlfriend about whether she was having an affair.
When officers arrived at the girlfriend’s house around 4 a.m., they could see and hear Watts and his girlfriend arguing in the garage.
Watts cooperated with the officers but was upset and crying. He smelled of intoxicants and slurred his speech.
While an officer talked with Watts, dispatch indicated that Watts had an open misdemeanor case with an absolute sobriety release condition.
Watts admitted to drinking alcohol and submitted to a preliminary breath test that registered 0.178%.
He was charged on April 21 with one count of misdemeanor bail jumping for violating the sobriety condition.
On April 27, 2021, Sturgeon Bay police were dispatched to Watts’ girlfriend’s house on a report from a woman on FaceTime with Watts’ girlfriend that Watts had a knife to his throat. The friend said there were children in the house and she thought both Watts and his girlfriend were intoxicated.
Officers responded with lights and sirens. When they arrived at the house they saw Watts through a bathroom window. Watts held a large knife in his hand but then dropped it in the sink and left the room.
Police announced their presence and entered through the side door. They passed the girlfriend and began clearing the house with guns drawn while making sure the children were safe.
They found Watts in bed in an upper-level room. They handcuffed him because they had seen him with a knife. Watts had bloodshot eyes, was slurring his speech, and smelled of intoxicants. He did not cooperate with the officers.
Watts’ girlfriend told officers that Watts had been caring for their children while she was at work. When she arrived home around 2:15 a.m. they began discussing their relationship. They each consumed shots of liquor while they talked.
Watts became angry and started yelling. His girlfriend recorded their encounter.
She played the recordings for one of the officers, who heard an argument become so loud that a child began screaming for it to stop. The girlfriend remained calm through most of the exchange.
The girlfriend told officers that a loud pounding noise in the recordings was Watts hitting the wall.
Officers heard Watts in the recordings say that his girlfriend needed to find a new father for the kids because he was going to be in a coffin. He several times mentioned being dead.
The girlfriend reported that Watts had walked to the children’s rooms and kissed them, telling them goodbye. He then picked up a kitchen knife and placed it against his neck. At that point the girlfriend contacted her friend by FaceTime so the friend could witness what was happening.
During questioning, Watts consented to a breath test, which registered 0.225%. He told officers that he would “’test dirty for marijuana’” as well.
Watts was transported to the Door County Medical Center for a crisis evaluation.
On April 28, 2021, Watts was charged with domestic-abuse disorderly conduct with use of a dangerous weapon as a repeater, exposing him to a fine of $1,000 and up to 30 months in custody. The complaint included two counts of misdemeanor bail jumping as a repeater, each with possible penalties of $10,000 and nine months in jail.
Door County Circuit Judge D. Todd Ehlers set cash bond at $250 in each case, with conditions of absolute sobriety, no possession or consumption of alcohol, no possession of drug paraphernalia or controlled substances without a prescription, no bars or taverns except for work, and no contact with the girlfriend except regarding placement of their children.
On December 9, 2021, Watts resolved all three cases by pleading no contest to domestic-abuse disorderly conduct in the first case and domestic-abuse disorderly conduct and a count of misdemeanor bail jumping in the third case. The state dropped the dangerous-weapon enhancement.
All other charges were 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.
Weber sentenced Watts to 30 days on each of the three counts of conviction, consecutive, with work-release privileges.
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. Facts set forth in the case file section are allegations from criminal complaints.
The intent of the project is to show a variety of bail-jumping cases and the frequency with which such charges are made.
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