Bail and Bond in Wisconsin

It’s Friday at 2:30 and you are before a court commissioner or judge.  The previous evening you were arrested and spent the night in jail.  Now you are about have a hearing where your bond will be set.  You are very likely wondering what happens next?  At this hearing, the judge will hear arguments from the prosecutor in your case and the defense to determine what are the appropriate conditions for your release as your case works its way through the criminal justice system.  This hearing can have a large impact on your life because it could possibly determine things like:

(1) Whether you will be released with a signature bond or be required to post some amount of cash.
(2) Whether you will be able to have contact with certain individuals or certain places.
(3) Whether there will be any other restrictions placed on your day-to-day life.

Considering these important decisions made at a bond hearing, it is important to have someone trained and knowledgeable about the rules of bond in Wisconsin.

At a bond hearing, several outcomes are possible. The most common outcomes of release are either by signing a signature bond or by being required to post a cash bond. In Wisconsin, a Cash bond may only be imposed only after the court finds that there is a reasonable basis to believe that bail is necessary to assure your appearance in court. If a court imposes cash bail it shall be for the minimum amount found necessary to assure your appearance in court. If the court does impose any amount of cash bail you or someone on your behalf will be required to post 100% of the amount before you can be released. When considering the cash bond the court should be considering your individual ability to pay.
Alternatively, a signature bond allows you to leave the jail and the courthouse without posting any money. By signing a signature bond, you are in essence making a contract with the State that you will appear at all future court appearances as well as follow any specified conditions of the bond.
With both cash and signature bonds, the court can also impose “reasonable” conditions designed to assure your appearance in court, protect members of the community from serious bodily harm, or prevent the intimidation of witnesses. Wisconsin law requires that judges consider certain factors when determining when to impose cash bail and imposing conditions. Some of these include:
(1) The ability of the arrested person to give bail.
(2) The nature, number and gravity of the offenses and the potential penalty the defendant faces.
(3) The defendant’s prior record of criminal convictions and delinquency adjudications.
(4) Ties to the community.
(5) Whether the defendant in the past forfeited bail or violated a condition of release or was a fugitive at the time of arrest.
What happens if I violate my bond?

If you fail to comply with the terms of your bond, you may be responsible to pay the amount of your signature bond or lose the amount of the cash bond that was posted.  Additionally, if you violate any of the terms of your bond you could face an additional criminal offense called Bail Jumping. 

What happens to your cash bond at the end of case?
What happens with your cash bond depends on the outcome of your case. If you are convicted in your case, the cash bond will be used to cover any restitution, court costs, and fines that may be associated with your case. Any amount remaining will be returned to your or the individual that posted bail. If you win or the state dismisses your case the full amount of bond will be returned to you or the person that posted it.

How can a criminal defense lawyer help with Bond?

Although the bond hearing is typically only the first hearing in a criminal case, it can have a very big impact on your life.  Having an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer on your side can help you in several ways: 
  1. They will take the time to know you and your case. This information will allow us to best advocate for the position you want in a bond hearing.
  2. Our experienced Criminal Defense attorneys know the law concerning bond and will argue that the court is considering the right factors and considering your individual situation.