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Should Cash Bail Constitutional Amendments Be Invalidated?

 Posted on July 08, 2024 in Criminal Defense

WI defense lawyerCriminal justice groups in Wisconsin argue that voter-approved cash bail constitutional amendments have procedural flaws that should invalidate the amendments. The case concerns whether the ballot questions sent to the legislature were sent to the correct election officials and whether deadlines were properly met. If these allegations are true, the amendments could be removed from the state constitution and possibly placed on a future ballot.

The First Amendment allows judges who are determining bail to consider past convictions for violent crimes when the new charges are also for a violent crime. The Second Amendment allows judges who are considering bail when releasing a defendant before trial to consider any risk to public safety, including prior criminal history. Those facing a bail hearing in the state with a prior conviction or criminal history may find their bail denied entirely or set so high it becomes unattainable.

While it is always advisable to have a Jefferson County criminal defense attorney at bail hearings, it is even more important now. These constitutional amendments make it considerably more difficult for those with a prior criminal history to obtain bail before trial. With the new challenges to the amendments, having one’s rights protected by a skilled attorney during bail issues is particularly relevant.

What Are the Bail Requirements in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin Bail Statutes Chapter 969 details the bail conditions and how the bail can be paid. Bail or bond is an obligation by the defendant that allows them to be temporarily released from jail. The purpose of bail is to ensure the defendant appears in court and properly follows their release conditions. Should the defendant fail to comply with the bail conditions, the person who posted the bond could lose that money. A cash bond must be posted at the jail or the Clerk of Courts, while a signature bond is an agreement signed by the defendant, promising to follow all conditions of release and appear at all court dates. Additionally, the defendant:

  • Must not commit any criminal offense
  • May not threaten, intimidate, harass, or otherwise interfere with a witness or victim associated with this action—either directly or indirectly
  • Must comply with any other court-ordered conditions
  • May be required to wear an electronic monitoring device
  • Must provide written notice within 48 hours when his or her address or phone number changes

A violation of any of these conditions may result in revocation of bail, which means the defendant will be returned to jail. A person posting bail will be asked to sign a Bail Acknowledgement Form. It is necessary to carefully review the information on this sheet—or have your attorney review the form. Cash bail can sometimes be used to pay fines, court costs, fees, or restitution without notice under Wisconsin statutes.

Is Having a Criminal Defense Attorney at a Bail Hearing Necessary?

It is always a good idea to have an experienced attorney at your bail hearing. An attorney will ensure your rights are protected and that you get the best bail conditions possible. Not only will your attorney work to have your bail lowered to the extent possible, but they will also argue for your release, so you are not required to sit in jail until your trial.

Judges tend to treat cases more carefully and more respectfully when a lawyer is involved. Many people have not yet retained an attorney at this point, so jail bond hearings are often crowded and chaotic and may be held late at night. With an attorney by your side, you are likely to be able to avoid thousands of dollars in bail fees. In some cases, having a criminal defense lawyer by your side can mean the difference between a $100,000 bail and an outright release.

Contact a Waukesha County, WI Criminal Defense Attorney for a Free Consultation

As soon as you are able after your arrest, contact an experienced Jefferson County, WI criminal defense attorney near you who can help you through the bail process with the best result possible. Crowded court dockets can result in trials being set many months away, and staying in jail that long can completely derail your job and your life. You could gain significant benefits from having an attorney who spent two decades as the Waukesha County District Attorney and has a deep understanding of how the other side will respond. Call Bucher Law Group, LLC at 262-303-4916 to schedule your free consultation.    

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