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Michael Mills (left) and his attorney Finley Williams outside the Duval County courthouse in Jacksonville, Fla. Mills’ cellphone data got charges against him dropped — six months after he was arrested. He would have been in jail all that time had he not been able to afford his bail.
Michael Mills (left) and his attorney Finley Williams outside the Duval County courthouse in Jacksonville, Fla. Mills’ cellphone data got charges against him dropped — six months after he was arrested. He would have been in jail all that time had he not been able to afford his bail.

By Claire Goforth

Michael Mills had run-ins with the law in his younger, wilder days. Now he is 43, an automotive repairman and father of four who lives in Baldwin, Fla., a quasi-independent municipality in Jacksonville. He thought that was all far behind him until he was arrested in September 2018 on felony charges of impersonating a police officer.

As a small business owner, he had the means to pay a bail bonds company $1,500, representing the standard, nonrefundable 10% portion of his $15,000 bond that such businesses charge, to secure release the day of his arrest, and was able to afford a private attorney. The state later reduced the charge to a misdemeanor, which didn’t affect bond because he’d already paid.