Pretrial Release | Wisconsin

3/13/2013

State legislatures consider and enact laws that address all aspects of pretrial policy, including citations, release eligibility, conditions of release, commercial bail bonding, victims’ rights and diversion. These legislative policies have an important role in providing fair, efficient and safe practices carried out by law enforcement and the courts.

Below is a synopsis of this state’s pretrial release laws as of March 2013 and any relevant legislative reports or audits. Recent enactments modifying these provisions can be found in NCSL’s pretrial enactments database.

Laws

Citation in Lieu of Arrest

Issuing a citation is not presumptive, however a citation can be issued for misdemeanors except domestic abuse offenses if the officer believes the abuse will continue, involves physical injury or the arrestee is the predominant aggressor; and a violation of a protection order involving domestic abuse, child abuse or harassment. Citations can be issued at any time during the arrest process by law enforcement officers. (§ 968.085; § 968.075; § 813.12; § 813.122; § 813.125)

Pretrial Release Eligibility

State constitution and statute provide a presumption of pretrial release. The constitution authorizes the legislature to enact a law denying release for murder punishable by life, sexual assault punishable by no more than 20 years, and for felonies involving serious bodily injury or threat of serious bodily injury if the defendant has a prior similar conviction within limits enumerated in Const. Art. 1 § 8(3). Statute allows pretrial release to be denied for 1st degree intentional homicide, 1st or 2nd degree sexual assault of a child, repeated acts of sexual assault on the same child, sexual assault of a child placed in substitute care, violent crime or attempted violent crime and has a prior similar conviction. (Const. art. 1 § 8; § 969.01; § 969.035)

Pretrial Release Conditions

Law allows release on personal recognizance or an unsecured appearance bond. Common conditions of release include: cash deposit, other secured bond, supervision and additional requirements. (§ 969.02; § 969.03)

Pretrial Detention

Defendants charged with 1st degree intentional homicide, 1st or 2nd degree sexual assault of a child, repeated acts of sexual assault on the same child, sexual assault of a child placed in substitute care, violent crime or attempted violent crime if they have a prior similar conviction require a hearing to deny pretrial release. State law specifies time frames for when the hearing must be held, addresses detainment of the defendant pending the outcome of the hearing and enumerates rights of the defendant. When a defendant is unable to meet the pretrial release conditions, a judicial review is required after 48 hours in custody. (Const. Art. 1, § 8; § 969.08)

Bail Bond Agent Licensure

Commercial bondsmen are prohibited. (§ 969.12)

Victims’ Rights and Protections

If a bail bond is forfeited, the funds can be applied to a restitution order upon the defendant’s conviction. (§ 969.13(5))

Pretrial Diversion

Diversion programs authorized include: domestic relations and worthless checks programs. (§ 971.41; § 971.37)

Resources

Full text of statutes can be retrieved using NCSL’s State Legislatures Internet Links database or learn more about NCSL’s Criminal Justice Program.