Initial Appearances

A person was just arrested. What happens next?

Persons charged with misdemeanor crimes may be able to post bail and be released, and will have to return to the Dane County Courthouse at a later date. Out of custody initial appearance hearings are held in Courtroom 1A of the Dane County Courthouse, 215 S. Hamilton Street, Madison.

Persons charged with felony crimes MUST WAIT in jail for an initial appearance before a court commissioner. These hearings are held Monday through Friday at 1:30 p.m. at the Public Safety Building (Dane County Jail), 115 W. Doty St, Madison. The jail is adjacent to the courthouse.

How can I find out if someone is in the Dane County Jail?

Call the jail at (608) 284-6800 or the VINE system at 1-877-418-8463.

When will a person in jail go to court?

This first court date is based on how quickly the District Attorney’s Office receives information from the arresting police agency and files a criminal complaint in court (usually within one to four days). At initial appearances, the conditions and amount of bail are set.

MONDAY Court Hearings Location
10:00 a.m. Out of Custody Initial Appearances Courthouse 1A
1:30 p.m. In Custody Arraignment Hearings & Temp. Restraining Orders Dane Co. Jail
TUESDAY Court Hearings Location
1:30 p.m. In Custody Arraignment Hearings & Temp. Restraining Orders Dane Co. Jail
WEDNESDAY Court Hearings Location
8:30 a.m. Out of Custody Initial Appearances: Criminal Traffic Courthouse 1A
9:00 a.m. Criminal Traffic: Madison Police Department (Spanish cases) Courthouse 1A
1:30 p.m. In Custody Arraignment Hearings Dane Co. Jail
THURSDAY Court Hearings Location
8:30 a.m. Out-of-Custody Initial Appearances Courthouse 1A
10:30 a.m. Out-of-Custody Initial Appearances Courthouse 1A
1:30 p.m. In Custody Arraignment Hearings & Temp. Restraining Orders Dane Co. Jail
FRIDAY Court Hearings Location
1:30 p.m. In Custody Arraignment Hearings & Temp. Restraining Orders Dane Co. Jail

How can an inmate post bail?

Pay bail in person at the Bail / Release window at the Public Safety Building (Dane County Jail), 115 W. Doty St., Madison, on the ground floor. The jail accepts cash, credit cards, money orders or cashier’s checks. Cash bail can also be paid at any Sheriff’s Department in Wisconsin; simply let them know you are bailing someone out in Dane County.

I need an attorney and cannot afford one. What can I do?

The District Attorney's Office cannot provide legal advice. The District Attorney’s Office prosecutes crime on behalf of the state, and ethically prosecutors cannot give legal advice. This office also does not determine if someone obtains a court-appointed attorney. Ask the judge handling the case or call the State Public Defender’s Office at (608) 266-9150. They are located at 17 S. Fairchild Street, 2nd Floor, Madison.

When will an inmate be released?

This depends on why someone is in jail. Inmates serving sentences have a scheduled release date if no other charges or warrants exist. Those being held on a probation or parole violations can only be released by their probation or parole agent.

How can I contact someone’s probation or parole agent?

Call the Department of Corrections Central Records at (608) 240-3750 and provide the person’s name, date of birth, or inmate number.