BAIL EXPLAINED

HOW DOES BAIL WORK IN MILWAUKEE?

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WHAT IS BAIL?

Bail is the temporary release of an accused person awaiting trial on condition that a sum of cash is held to guarantee their appearance in Milwaukee County Court in Milwaukee, WI.

WHEN IS BAIL RETURNED?

Money or collateral will not be returned until the defendant’s court case is closed, so realistically it could take several months to years, depending on the severity of the charges. Also, Milwaukee County Court may retain whatever amount of fines or fees have accumulated throughout the trial. If Milwaukee Freedom Fund has paid the bail, whatever amount is returned can go to paying the next person’s bail. 

WHAT HAPPENS IF THE DEFENDANT MISSES COURT?

The judge may order a failure to appear warrant for the person’s arrest, or the judge may order a Bail Commissioner’s Letter to be issued that will be sent to the person with a new court date. If cash bail was paid, the entire amount may be forfeited.

WHAT ARE BONDS AND CONDITIONS?

SIGNATURE BOND:

This is a commitment to return to court without having to post any money immediately. However, signature bonds sometimes have money connected to them. (For example, a $1,000 signature bond means you commit to paying $1,000 if you violate the conditions of bail.)

CONDITIONS OF BOND:

These are rules you must follow while out on bail—and violation of them could mean having bail revoked (and re-arrested) and/or loss of bail money.

BOND:

Typically set at the initial appearance hearing (usually first court appearance). This is where formal charges are read and bond conditions are set.*

*Juveniles may only be bailed or bonded out of custody by a parent or legal guardian

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Image by Vonecia Carswell

MILWAUKEE FREEDOM FUND

SOMEONE IS ARRESTED:

If someone is arrested, booked, and is in jail, they will have an initial bail set and a hearing will be scheduled, usually within 48 hours (but up to 5 business days). At the hearing, the charges are read and a bail/bond may be issued.

PAYING BAIL:

Once bail is set and if the person does not have a hold on them, family, friends or their attorney can request help from the Milwaukee Freedom Fund to pay the bail.

BAIL IS RETURNED:

If the person shows up for all their court appearances, once the case is over the bail is returned to the Milwaukee Freedom Fund. MFF can then use that money to bail out another person which is why it is sometimes called a revolving bail fund.