Utah Bail Law

State of Utah v. Sun Surety Insurance Company, 2003 WL 21295845 (Utah App. February 27, 2003) held that the bail bond was exonerated because the notice of nonappearance was sent to the bail agent not the surety company as required by Utah Code Section 77-20b-101.

In State v. Cobos, 2003 WL 22361492 (Utah App. October 17, 2003) the surety filed a motion in the trial court to set aside entry of judgment against the surety and exonerate the bond. The trial court denied the motion and the surety appealed. The Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. According to the Court, in Utah the surety can obtain review only as part of an appeal from the final judgment in the criminal case or by filing a petition for an extraordinary writ.

State v. Sun Surety Insurance Company, 99 P.3d 818 (Utah 2004) held that a bail bond surety did not have standing to appeal the trial court’s refusal to set aside forfeiture of the bond. The Utah Supreme Court thus vacated the Court of Appeals holding that the forfeiture should be vacated because notice of the forfeiture was mailed only to the bail agent and not to the surety. The Supreme Court held that only the criminal defendant and the State are parties to a criminal case with standing to appeal, but in a footnote it suggested that the proper method for the surety to raise its objections is by “extraordinary writ.”

In Lee v. Langley, 2005 WL 1831115 (Utah App. August 4, 2005) the defendant failed to appear for criminal charges in Colorado and left the state in violation of the bond and of his contract with the surety. He was apprehended in Utah at his brother’s house by a recovery agent licensed in Colorado but not in Utah. The defendant and his brother sued the surety, bail agent and recovery agent for false imprisonment, assault and reckless endangerment. The trial court dismissed the false imprisonment claim. The Court of Appeals held that the recovery agent was not protected by the Utah Bail Bond Recovery statute because he was not properly licensed, but that his apprehension of the defendant was authorized under the contract between the defendant and the surety and so was lawful and could not form the basis of a false imprisonment claim. The jury found for the recovery agent on the other claims, and the bail agent and surety could not be liable if the primary actor was not liable.

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