A defendant who jumped bail can be forced to pay back the money his mother posted for him and forfeited.
A Sept. 23 opinion from the Wisconsin Court of Appeals holds that the requirement can be made either as restitution, or as a condition of extended supervision or probation.
In 2005, William Agosto was charged with second-degree sexual assault of a child and interference with child custody. $50,000 bail was posted by his mother in that case. When he failed to appear, the court ordered the bail forfeited.
Later that year, he was charged with bail jumping and driving a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent.
He pleaded guilty to all four counts and was sentenced to prison. The circuit court also ordered him to pay restitution to his mother on the first case (sexual assault and interference with custody).
Later, the court changed the basis for the reimbursement obligation from restitution to a condition of extended supervision.
Agosto appealed, but the Court of Appeals affirmed, in an opinion by Judge Ralph Adam Fine.
The court first held that reimbursement was properly ordered as restitution.
Under sec. 973.20(1r), restitution must be awarded to a crime victim, absent a substantial reason not to.
At issue, then, was whether Agosto’s mother qualified as a “victim of a crime.”
The court reasoned that, because bail jumping is a “crime,” and his mother lost $50,000 as a result, she was a crime victim, within the meaning of the restitution statute.
For persuasive authority, the court cited a Utah case, State v. Galli, 967 P.2d 930 (Utah 1998), in which the court held that if a defendant had pleaded guilty to, or admitted, violating the conditions of his bond, he would have been subject to a restitution order directing him to reimburse the person who posted his forfeited bail.
Although the court could have concluded its analysis at that point, it continued, holding that the reimbursement order could properly be entered as a condition of extended supervision, as well.
Fine wrote, “Requiring Agosto to make good on his debt to his mother reinforces the core aspects of rehabilitation — making the offender realize that there are consequences to what he or she does. … To give Agosto a free ride on the bail-jumping loss he caused his mother would only reinforce his view that he is immune to the law’s strictures. That would make a mockery of ‘rehabilitation’ and would also ill-serve the interests of our community.”
In this case, the defendant pleaded guilty to bail jumping.
However, this is not a prerequisite for requiring future defendants to reimburse the third parties who forfeit bail money because of a defendant’s failure to appear.
In its analysis of the restitution order, the court cited with approval a Utah case that required, before restitution could be ordered on identical facts, that the defendant plead guilty to, or at least admit to, bail jumping.
However, Wisconsin’s restitution laws are more permissive. Under Wisconsin law, a court may order restitution for a crime that is dismissed, but read-in, and no admission of guilt is required. State v. Straszkowski, 2008 WI 65, 750 N.W.2d 835, 838.
In addition, the statute itself provides that restitution must be ordered “to any victim of a crime considered at sentencing…” A read-in crime qualifies as a crime “considered at sentencing,” even without a conviction or admission of guilt.
Thus, when negotiating plea deals, a conviction for bail jumping need not be considered necessary for ordering that a defendant reimburse an innocent third party who posted his bail.
Furthermore, since conditions of probation or extended supervision may go beyond what is permissible for an order of restitution, ordering reimbursement could probably be done in that fashion, even if the bail jumping charge is not even read in.