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Costs — Bail, as Satisfaction

State v. Ryan E. Baker, 2005 WI App 45, PFR filed 3/17/05
For Baker: William E. Schmaal, SPD, Madison Appellate

Issue/Holding: The plain text of § 969.02(6) mandates that bail money be used to satisfy court costs, with no room for discretionary return to the depositor rather than payment of costs. ¶¶7-9.

This is a misdemeanor, but the relevant felony statute, § 969.03(4), is indistinguishable and the holding would undoubtedly apply.  Note, too, that the latter statute has been upheld against due process / notice attack, State v. Iglesia, 185 Wis. 2d 117, 517 N.W.2d 175 (1994). It may be worth recalling that restitution is treated distinctly and is not subject to these bail-satisfaction provisions, State v. Cetnarowski, 166 Wis. 2d 700, 713, 480 N.W.2d 790 (Ct. App. 1992). Baker, it should be mentioned, also argued that the trial court may – and in this instance at least implicitly did – waive court costs, thus freeing the way for return of all the cash bail. The court of appeals, however, declines to reach the issue, leaving it open for further litigation, ¶10: “In general, § 814.29(1) protects the constitutional right of access to the courts for all. Whether § 814.29(1) provides a basis to waive court costs ordered at judgment in a criminal proceeding is not an issue that is properly before us today. The circuit court did not waive Baker’s costs-it ordered them satisfied through credit for jail incarceration time.” In other words, because the issue of waiver of costs is explicitly left open, this holding does not inhibit you from asking the court to waive costs, thus freeing up posted bail for return to the depositor.


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