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: 41
Total number of misdemeanor and felony cases: 178
Percent of misdemeanor and felony cases that include bail-jumping charges: 23%
Total number of felony cases with bail-jumping charges: 35*
Total number of all felony cases: 115
Percent of felony cases that include bail-jumping charges: 30%
Total number of misdemeanor cases with bail-jumping charges: 6
Total number of all misdemeanor cases: 63
Percent of misdemeanor cases that include bail-jumping charges: 10%
Largest number of bail-jumping charges issued in a single case: 6
Number of felony bail-jumping charges issued: 57
Number of misdemeanor bail-jumping charges issued: 20
*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.
Ashley last year racked up 14 counts of felony bail jumping, exposing her to a potential 84 years in prison on those charges alone.
Add in four counts of misdemeanor bail jumping, and she was looking at a possible 87 years – a life sentence for the 35-year-old woman – on bail-jumping charges alone.
Then there were the other felony and misdemeanor charges she faced: 20 all together, ranging from disorderly conduct to battery to a law enforcement officer.
In each of her cases, she posted bond.
In the end, she pleaded to a variety of charges, including bail jumping. Most charges were dismissed in plea bargaining, however, and her penalty was far, far below the maximum she originally faced.
As in many bail-jumping cases, alcohol and drug abuse played a big part in Ashley's legal problems. And in her case, so did her obsession with a man, whom she simply would not leave alone, according to criminal complaints. She broke into his home and harassed him with hundreds of unwanted texts. She was arrested several times on charges related to her obsession.
Her 2021 bail-jumping history actually began in 2019, when she was arrested in Bayfield County for drunk driving. She pleaded guilty to first-offense OWI with a child in her car and was sentenced in January, 2020, to 30 days in jail. Her license was revoked for 14 months, and Ashley was ordered to install an ignition interlock device on her car.
In February, 2020, Ashley was arrested again and charged with second-offense drunk driving, with second-offense operating with a prohibited blood-alcohol content, failure to install the ignition interlock device required after her first OWI case, and driving while her license was revoked. Her blood alcohol content was .136, according to the criminal complaint, well above the legal limit of .02 that applied to her because of the interlock requirement.
In March, 2020, Ashley was busted for taking her car to the Bayfield County Courthouse at about 8:30 a.m. and to the Sheriff's Department at 12:15 p.m., according to the criminal complaint. Her occupational license, a result of her first drunk-driving case, allowed her to drive from 4:45 a.m. to 8 a.m. and from 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Her trips to the courthouse and Sheriff's Department occurred outside those hours. She was charged in May with two counts of driving on a revoked license, a misdemeanor.
Circuit Judge John P. Anderson set a $500 signature bond to cover both 2020 cases.
Ashley faced her first three bail-jumping charges in July, 2021, when she was allegedly dumping clothes and other personal items belonging to her boyfriend's roommate in a burn pit and a water-filled hot tub.
"Victim said that items were ruined including her leather boots ($400), leather jacket ($200), Samsung Galaxy S7 phone ($700) and other personal belongings," the complaint said.
A witness told police that Ashley called him the night of the incident. Ashley told him that "she found out her boyfriend was cheating on her with his ex-girlfriend/roommate so she through (sic) some of her belongings into the hot tub and took some others," the complaint said.
Ashley was charged with criminal damage to property and entry to a locked room. Because she was still on bond for the 2020 cases, she also was charged with two counts of misdemeanor bail jumping. It's unclear from online court records whether Anderson required a bond from Ashley.
Things spun downward for Ashley. She was charged in August, 2021, with 15 new criminal counts. They included her first felonies and her first two felony bail-jumping charges.
Police got a call on Aug. 1 from a man – apparently the same man – who was staying at his father's house. Ashley, he said, broke into his dad's and would not leave.
She finally left in a car shortly before a deputy arrived.
"Victim reported (Ashley) was texting him nonstop obscenities and very long messages," the criminal complaint said.
Earlier that very day, shortly before 4 a.m., Ashely texted "I swear to God, if you cheated and I find out – I will cover your cock in lye" and "If you fucking cheated on me, you don't tell me the truth, and I have an STD or find out you cheated it will be very unfavorable for you and your whore."
The man told a deputy that Ashley would not stop texting him despite his requests. The deputy took pictures of Ashley's texts – more than 300 in all, according to the complaint. The man told the deputy that he was worried about what Ashley might do.
Ashley was arrested in a car that she was driving. The car did not have the required ignition interlock device, according to the complaint.
As she did in other cases, she accused the man, who is not identified in court documents, of assaulting her.
A search of Ashley's property at the jail turned up a pipe and three baggies that a field test indicated contained methamphetamine. (Field drug tests are notoriously inaccurate, but that's another story.)
She was advised that she was prohibited from contacting the victim for 72 hours because her arrest was related to domestic abuse, according to the complaint.
Judge Anderson, in a separate civil case, issued a temporary restraining order on Aug. 2 prohibiting Ashley from contacting the man; she was served the order that day in jail.
That evening, the man reported that Ashley texted him from jail. She also called his house phone several times, according to the complaint.
On Aug. 3, Anderson set a $700 cash bond for Ashley, according to online court records. The bond was based on probable cause; she had not yet been charged with a crime. The judge ordered Ashley to have no contact with the man. Anderson also ordered her to maintain absolute sobriety and take drugs only as prescribed.
The next day, the man told deputies he had received 25 messages from a phone number he knew to be Ashley's.
She was arrested again. At the jail she explained her involvement in previous incidents, saying "it was Victim's fault she was involved in them," according to the complaint.
Ashley also claimed her mom was the person who texted the man 25 times.
She "reiterated that she did not message Victim but that she may have said things to her mom which may be construed as her having her mom message Victim on (Ashley's) behalf," the complaint said.
She also admitted to signing into the man's accounts, including his email account, and sending a text message through his phone.
On Aug. 12, the man called law enforcement again to report that Ashley was trying to break into his house, according to the complaint. He was with his children and she had her three children with her. Ashley and her children left while he was on the phone. She allegedly returned later, though, while he was gone, and left some of her belongings by a door.
The man also reported finding a clock with a camera in it that Ashley could use to monitor the inside of his house; a camera in his bedroom; and another in his garage.
Ashley was charged with four felonies and 11 misdemeanors. The felonies were the two counts of bail jumping and one count each of stalking and possession of methamphetamine. The misdemeanors were two counts of bail jumping, three counts of violating a domestic abuse temporary restraining order, and one count each of criminal trespass, resisting or obstructing an officer, operating a motor vehicle while revoked, failing to install an ignition interlock device, possessing drug paraphernalia, and contact after a domestic-abuse arrest.
She faced a maximum of 162 months in prison on the four bail-jumping charges and a maximum of 148 months in prison on the 11 remaining charges.
Felony bail jumping is punishable by up to six years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. The maximum penalty for misdemeanor bail jumping is nine months in jail and a $10,000 fine.
Felony bail jumping is charged when the underlying crime is a felony and a person violates the bond conditions related to that felony. In this case, the felony was stalking. While that charge had not been issued when Ashley embarked on the other misdeeds alleged in the complaint, a criminal charge is not necessary for a bail-jumping offense to occur. A mere arrest is enough. Critics say that bail-jumping charges, especially felony bail-jumping charges, are often issued to encourage or coerce defendants into accepting plea agreements they might otherwise reject.
Misdemeanor bail jumping is charged when the underlying crime is a misdemeanor and a person violates the bond conditions related to that misdemeanor. In this instance, the misdemeanor was the 2020 second-offense drunk driving case that was still pending.
Anderson continued the $700 cash bond.
Eight days after the being hit with 15 charges, Ashley faced three more, all felony bail-jumping charges.
She showed up at the man's house with a ladder and her three children, according to the complaint. One of the kids held the ladder while Ashley climbed up it and into the man's house through a window. When he asked her to leave, she refused, according to the complaint. He called the Sheriff's Department.
She was arrested, and a deputy reviewed her text messages. "There were over 175 photos of text messages taken, with the majority of photos containing 2 or 3 text messages each," the complaint said. "Victim did reply a few times, but the conversation was mostly one sided long messages from (Ashley)."
Ashley was under court orders not to contact the man, the complaint said. The three bail jumping counts coincided with dates she texted the man and allegedly climbed into his house.
"This case is not a victim case, as it is a crime against government for violations of a court order," the complaint said.
Anderson set a $1,200 cash bail.
Three weeks later, Ashley was charged with a half-dozen counts of felony bail jumping, three counts of misdemeanor criminal trespass and one count of felony stalking.
The man reported that Ashley was texting and calling him again. He also said he found her hiding under his bed, according to the complaint. He previously found her in his basement, crawling past him as he woke up in a recliner in his house, and sleeping in a storage shed outside.
"This is beyond invasive," the man said, according to the complaint. "I've locked the locked the doors and she was in there again; I changed the locks...I can't keep her out, she is like Houdini."
He said he slept well only when Ashley was in jail.
Anderson set $2,500 cash bond.
In November, Ashley picked up three more counts of felony bail jumping, one count of felony battery to a law enforcement officer, and misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct and resisting an officer.
The man called about 4:30 a.m. Oct. 30 to report that Ashley was outside his house "screaming and yelling" and trying to get in.
She took off her clothes and burned them, the man said.
When deputies arrived, they found her under the house, naked. She refused to come out when ordered to do so and deputies had to physically remove her. She kicked them, and kicked one deputy several times.
Ashley "appeared to be extremely intoxicated" and resisted as deputies cuffed her. "Deputies had to carry her to the squad car," the complaint said. There, it said, they gave her a blanket to cover herself.
Anderson set a $10,000 cash bond.
Ashley's cases are now resolved. She does not face a lifetime in prison. She may have a chance to get her life together.
In the drunk-driving case, Ashley pleaded no contest to second-offense OWI. The other charges were dropped but read into the record. Anderson sentenced her last month to 10 days in jail, consecutive to sentences in other cases, revoked her license for 12 months, and ordered her to install an ignition interlock device for 12 months.
He ordered Ashley to undergo an alcohol assessment and to follow through on all resulting recommendations. As in her other cases, she was assessed fines and costs.
In March, all the charges in the first misdemeanor bail-jumping case, the one where Ashley allegedly threw another woman's clothes into a hot tub and burn pit, were dismissed. They were read into the record in another case.
In February, Ashley ended the 15-charge case against her by pleading no contest to misdemeanor bail jumping and misdemeanor resisting an officer. Anderson sentenced her to 18 months probation. He ordered her to maintain absolute sobriety and directed her to complete a mental-health assessment and follow through with recommendations.
He also ordered her to undergo any other counseling or conditions as determined by the Department of Corrections and to undergo an alcohol assessment and to follow through on all resulting recommendations.
She pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor bail jumping in March to end the case that originally consisted of three felony bail-jumping counts. Anderson sentenced her to 28 days in jail, consecutive to sentences imposed in other cases.
She pleaded no contest to one count of misdemeanor bail jumping in the ladder case, and Anderson sentenced her to 28 days in jail, to be served consecutively to sentences in other cases. The felony bail-jumping counts were dismissed.
Ashley pleaded no contest in the under-the-bed case to two counts of misdemeanor bail jumping. Anderson sentenced her to 60 days of home detention with electronic monitoring. He also sentenced her to 30 months probation, with many of the same conditions he set in the other cases. He ordered her to work or go to school full time and to complete domestic violence education and moral recognition therapy. The remaining eight counts were dismissed.
In the most recent case, the one that included battery to a police officer, she pleaded no contest to that charge, to resisting an officer, and to misdemeanor bail jumping. The disorderly conduct and two felony bail jumping charges were dismissed.
She was sentenced last month to 40 days in jail with work-release privileges on the resisting charge and 30 months probation on the bail-jumping charge.
Ashley entered into a deferred prosecution agreement on the felony, according to online court records.
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