Entries Tagged as 'Bail Bond Case Law'

How Do Bail Bonds Work?

A Surety Bond  
Formally, a bail bond is known as a surety bond.  The purpose of it is to ensure that a defendant appears for his or her court date, but does not need to remain held until that time.  The bail bond allows the person to go free and continue on with his or her daily life until the court date.surety bond     Premiere Bail Bonds

You can contact a bail bond agency directly.  This is true even if you are a defendant.  However, others can also contact the agency, such as friends, relatives, or attorneys.

The Process  
Once the agency is contacted, basic information is collected so we understand the bigger picture.  We will be interested in understanding the situation, from where the detainee is currently being held to how long they have lived at their current residence.  A lot of factors can come into how the bond is handled.  The more information we have, the more efficiently we can work.

There are documents that need to be dealt with, and once we have them ready – and we know that speed is important – they can be signed and the process can continue.  Our agents will take the documents to the right facility and it is these documents that will secure the release of the defendant.  It may sound like something that takes a long time, but that’s actually not the case.  A quality agency knows how to complete the entire bail bond process in just an hour or two.  Premiere Bail Bonds has agents that are competent and ready to get the job done in excellent time.

The fee paid is mandated by state law, which means the State of California has determined how much you will pay our agency for our services.  The biggest difference, however, is in how you are treated.  Our agents go above and beyond with each and every client, which is what makes us first class in the bail bonds business.

Be aware of any bail bondsmen who boast that they offer cheap bonds.  These people may be violating state laws to try and get your business and should be avoided at all costs.  It is best to choose an agency that fully understands the business and will go the extra mile to ensure the bond is handled.  It can be the middle of the night and a great bail bonds agency can have you out in just a few hours.

We work in numerous areas, from Santa Ana to Los Angeles.  If you aren’t sure if Premiere Bail Bonds is available where you live, feel free to contact us and ask.

4 Online Marketing Strategies You May Want to Consider for Your Law Firm

If you’re like many firms these days, you’re probably looking to begin your law firm online marketing strategy as soon as possible. After all, there’s no better way to reach people these days, and it can be less expensive than you think. Wondering where to start? Here’s an overview of four of the most popular online marketing methods.

  1. Search Engine Optimization: You’ve probably heard about this one for a few years now, and it’s both the easiest and the most difficult method of marketing online. The goal here is to get your site in front of the right people when they type certain words into the search engines. For example, if you’re a DUI firm in Pasadena, you’d want people searching for “DUI lawyer Pasadena” to find you. That’s where optimization, commonly called SEO, enters the picture. Properly optimizing your site means entering the right keywords within the text of your site so the search engine spiders can see them. Googling something like “SEO Tips” though will bring you a flood of results, as this is a budding science, and many SEO firms will charge you thousands to “properly” optimize your site. The thing to remember here is that everyone is guessing about what works best, and while there are some proven methodologies, tackling the beginning steps on your own is a good online marketing method that will get you at least somewhere in the game. 
  2. Pay Per Click Marketing: This online marketing method is fairly costly, but it’s a good way to get your name out there fast. You’ll choose certain keywords to “bid” on. When someone types in that keyword in Google, Yahoo, or another search engine, and they click on your ad, you pay the search engine your bid amount. Where your ad gets placed in the line-up can be tricky, and it can get expensive fast, but if you have the cash to spend, this is a great way to get your name out there. 
  3. Blogging: Blogging is a great way to connect with lots of people and create an authoritative presence online. It’s important to note, though, that you actually have to have something to offer as a blogger. You can’t simply make every post a commercial for your law firm. Tracking headlines within your specialty, offering tips to your readers, and creating engaging content is an absolute must with every post. 
  4. Social Media Marketing: If you’re already on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, you at least know something of social media. Creating accounts for your firm is the perfect, free way to market your services online. Keep in mind, though, you actually have to become part of the community if you want people to take you seriously.

Understanding Your Options for Posting Bail

If you or a person you know has been arrested for a crime in California, and is placed in jail, it’s important to know your options for posting bail. Many people are unprepared for this experience. Not only is there the severity of being arrested, but it’s the all-too-real pinching of the pocketbook that sinks in for a defendant.  

Lawyers often describe a bail hearing as any court appearance at which a defendant asks the court for release from custody, pending the outcome of a case. This process is generally called a bail hearing, even though not every defendant will have a bail hearing sometimes on larger “no-bail” cases they will.

Sometimes defendants will face several bail hearings on the larger more serious type of charges. This usually means a criminal defense lawyer will argue on behalf of the defendant and ask the judge to set bail pending trial. In these types hearings, a defendant and a lawyer can present evidence that they are not a danger to the community, or a flight risk, someone who will leave the state or country after a release. If the judge agrees with all this, then he or she will set a bail amount.  

So what are the best options for posting bail? A person can pay the full amount of the bond, and it will be refunded back to you after judgment is pronounced. In cases involving movie stars, celebrities or persons of wealth, this usually happens. One example is if a person is arrested and is assigned a $50,000 bond, they can bring a cashiers check to the jail to secure their release. Even with the quick release, the person arrested needs to be responsible for attending follow-up court appearances and other bail conditions.  

Another option is to work with a bail bond company. Bail bonds companies enter into an agreement with defendants, known as a surety bond, in which the bail bondsman posts the bail for the defendant’s release from jail. There are some stipulations around this option, and bail bond companies will usually interview defendants or anyone co-signing the bond to ensure compliance with the bond. This is an important step for a reputable bail bonds company, as the bail bondsman will be liable for the entire bail bond amount if the defendant doesn’t appear at all of the determined court dates.  

If you’re ever in a position to require the services of a reputable bail bonds company, consider Premiere Bail Bonds, California’s #1 Premiere Bail Bond Agency, with bail agents throughout the state. Having been in business for over 15 years, its founder and team are well-known to criminal defense lawyers for their professionalism and honesty working in the Orange County Court System and outlying areas.

Answers to Some Frequently Asked Questions About Bail Bonds

When an issue arises and someone you love is in trouble, there are a lot of questions about what to do next and many more about bail bonds. Here are some answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about bail bonds.

Am I entitled to bail? 
Although guarding against excessive bail is a right, there is no guarantee that you will get the chance to post bail.  Bail is determined by a judge who takes several factors into account, including whether or not you would be considered a flight risk for not returning to court or if the crime constitutes a public safety risk, any previous criminal history you have, etc.

What factors go into determining bail?  There are several factors in play when bail is determined.  Among them will be any previous criminal history.  If bail has ever been set before, your history of appearance in court will be considered.  If you have regular employment, community connections and family ties to the area, these also help determine bail in a positive way.  Character and mental state are also taken into consideration. 

bail bonds faqs   Premiere Bail BondsWhat is a bail bond?  Bail bonds are a percentage of the original bail amount, usually 10%.  This bond is a promise that you will return to court when the court system requires you to.  You will usually need a cosigner for a bail bond and that person will be responsible for ensuring that the full amount of bail and any expenses are paid should you miss your court date. 

Who can cosign for a bail bond?  Typically a friend or family member cosigns a bail bond for you.  In general, they need to be employed and have rented or owned a home in the area for a while.

Do I have to use a bail bond agent?  Of course not.  But there are many advantages to doing so.  For one thing, you get the advantage of the nearly two decades of experience in negotiating bail issues that a business like Premiere Bail Bonds can offer.

What if the person I posted bond for does not appear in court?  If the defendant does not appear in court as promised, then a bench warrant will be issued for his or her arrest.  The bail then becomes payable in full unless the defendant is recovered in a timely fashion.  You may still be responsible for any costs in recovering the defendant.

When does my bond expire?  The bail bond expires when the case is concluded, whether you are found innocent or guilty.  At that point, the liability for the bond is finished.  Any fees owed to the agent must still be paid.

United States Bail Law

U.S. v. Humberto Laura-Cota, 262 F. Supp.2d 1118 (S.D. Cal. 2003) set aside forfeiture of the bond because the Government increased the surety’s risk by deporting the defendant.

In United States v. King, 349 F.3d 964 (7th Cir. 2003) the trial court, over the government’s objection, permitted the defendant to travel to Nigeria despite the fact that he had shown what the court calls a propensity for flight. However, he in fact returned to New York and then skipped. The Seventh Circuit’s decision contains excellent language on exoneration of the surety by an unconsented to increase in the risk assumed, including “That a material change in risk can discharge the surety’s obligation is a staple of suretyship law; the principle is not limited to criminal cases.” [Read more →]

Wyoming Bail Law

Application of Action Bail Bonds, 2004 WL 583592 (Wyo. March 25, 2004) reviewed the standards that a trial court must follow in exercising its discretion on what part of a bond forfeiture should be remitted. The Court held that remission of 50% was not an abuse of discretion and affirmed the trial court.

Washington Bail Law

In Ranger Insurance Company v. Pierce County, 2004 WL 1834650 (Wash. App. August 17, 2004) Ranger wrote two separate bonds for a defendant named Rogers. The bail agent on both was Signature Bail Bonds, Inc. owned by Ray Hrdlicka. Signature also wrote a bond for Rogers, and two bonds for another defendant, with Granite State Insurance Co. as the surety. One of Ranger’s bonds for Rogers was forfeited along with Granite’s bonds. Signature issued checks to pay the forfeitures but then called Ranger and said that it did not have the funds to pay and that both of Ranger’s bonds had been forfeited. Ranger paid the Clerk the face amount of its two bonds — $35,000, and Signature stopped payment on its checks. The Signature manager (James Barbieri) told the Clerk to apply the $35,000 to pay the forfeited Ranger bond ($15,000) and the forfeited Granite bonds. After the defendants were recovered, Signature had the forfeitures set aside and told the Clerk that it had paid the forfeitures (using copies of the checks it stopped payment on as evidence) and the Clerk refunded the money to Signature. Signature did not send any of it to Ranger.

Ranger sued the Clerk for negligence in applying the payment (which Ranger had designated for the cases on which it was surety) to the Granite bonds and for returning its money to Signature. The trial court granted summary judgment to the Clerk on the theories that Signature was Ranger’s agent and could direct how the payment was to be applied and receive the refunds on Ranger’s behalf and that the Clerk had quasi-judicial immunity for negligent acts.

The Court of Appeals held that Signature had no actual authority to apply Ranger’s money to Granite’s obligation and that there were material issues of fact as Signature’s apparent authority. It also held that the Clerk was acting in a ministerial capacity and was not protected by quasi-judicial immunity. It vacated the summary judgment and remanded the case. A dissenting judge would have affirmed the trial court.

In State v. Surety Bankers Insurance Co., 2005 WL 583404 (Wash. App. March 14, 2005) the defendant was not apprehended in the 60 day period following forfeiture, and the surety paid the forfeiture. A few days later, the defendant was arrested on a new charge. The surety played no part in the arrest. The trial court refused to remit any of the forfeiture. The surety did not meet the statutory requirement for relief because it was not directly responsible for producing the defendant. It argued that the court nevertheless had discretion to grant relief on equitable grounds. The government argued that the statute foreclosed such equitable relief. The Court of Appeals held that it did not need to reach the issue of whether equitable relief was possible because the trial court exercised its discretion and was within its discretion in denying the relief requested by the surety.

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.

Texas Bail Law

McDonald v. State, 105 S.W.3d 749 (Tex. App. 2003) held that a bond forfeiture is a criminal proceeding and the state cannot ask for a new trial or file an appeal.

Quintero v. State of Texas, 2003 WL 21101395 (Tex. App. May 15, 2003) rejected arguments that there was insufficient evidence the principal signed the bond, that incorrect admonishment on appointment of counsel voids the bond, and that thecourt should have let one year elapse after failure to appear before forfeiting bond.

Olivarez v. State, 2003 WL 21476320 (Tex. App. June 26, 2003) is unusual because the bondswoman appeared pro se and won. She was helped by the fact that the state did not file a brief in the appeal and, in fact, neglected to place the bond in evidence in the trial court.

David’s Bail Bond v. State, 2003 WL 21509112 (Tex. App. June 30, 2003) affirmed the trial court’s denial of a bill to review forfeiture of the bond because the appellant did not provide a court reporter’s transcript of the hearing in the trial court. The decision to grant or deny relief was within the discretion of the trial court, and without a transcript the Court of Appeals could not find an abuse of discretion.

In Castaneda v. State, 2003 WL 21509098 (Tex. Crim. App. July 2, 2003) the bail bondsman knew that each of the five commercial drug dealer defendants was an illegal alien and would be turned over to INS when released on bail. None of the five appeared for trial, and they had apparently been deported. In the trial court and first level court of appeals, the bondsman unsuccessfully argued that the fact of deportation was an “uncontrollable circumstance” justifying exoneration of the bonds under Tex. Code of Crim. Procedure Art. 22.13(3). The lower courts rejected the argument and affirmed judgment of forfeiture. The Court of Criminal Appeals, in a 6 to 3 decision, considered an argument no one had made in the lower courts and held that under Tex. Code of Crim. Procedure Art. 17.16 the surety was automatically discharged if it delivered an affidavit that the defendant was in custody elsewhere and the sheriff verified that fact. This seems to be a great deal for the bondsman of an illegal alien subject to detention and deportation by INS. The bondsman can collect the premium, the defendant is “released” to INS, the bondsman immediately submits the affidavit, the sheriff verifies that the defendant is held by INS, and the bond is automatically discharged. As the three dissenting judges point out, it is possibly an even greater deal for the drug dealers (in these cases transporters of hundreds of pounds of marijuana) who have no trouble getting a risk-free bail bond, are sent back to Mexico and never face prosecution. Indeed, they presumable go back to work smuggling drugs into the U.S. secure in the knowledge that if they are caught they will be able to post bail and be sent home never to face trial. One of the few things one can definitely count on is that neither the courts nor the legislature are interested in helping drug dealers. The Texas Supreme Court or the Legislature may look for a way to change this result.

Webb v. State of Texas, 2003 WL 21666630 (Tex. App. July 17, 2003) is not strictly speaking a bail bond case, but it is nevertheless interesting because it holds that the crime of soliciting bonding business in a jail, police station or other place of detainment can be committed over the telephone. That is, the bail agent or bail surety need not physically be present in the detention facility when the solicitation occurs or at any other time.

Texas law requires that the defendant on a bail bond (as well as the surety) be given notice that the state is seeking a judgment of forfeiture and that the judgment be against both the defendant and the surety. In Guy Williams, d/b/a Freedom Bail Bonds v. State of Texas, 2003 WL 21961517 (Tex. App. August 19, 2003) the trial court entered judgment against both, but the state did not establish in the record that it had sent notice to the defendant. Given how simple it would be to show mailing of notice, there may be some implication from the state’s silence that it did not give the notice. On the other hand, Mr. Williams just submitted an affidavit that to the best of his information and belief no notice was given to the defendant. On this ambiguous record the court of appeals held that summary judgment should not have been granted, vacated the judgment and remanded the case to the trial court. Ironically, entry of judgment against the surety, who admittedly received notice, is at least postponed because the state did not establish it gave someone else notice.

Guy Williams d/b/a Freedom Bail Bonds v. State of Texas, 2003 WL 21998531 (Tex. App. August 25, 2003) and Guy Williams d/b/a Freedom Bail Bonds v. State of Texas, 2003 WL 21998567 (Tex. App. August 25, 2003) are virtually identical to the August 19 opinion as are six more cases with the same title dated August 27, 2003: 2003 WL 22017272, 2003 WL 22017294, 2003 WL 22017309, 2003 WL 22017331, 2003 WL 22017491, and 2003 WL 22017497.

Villanueva v. Gonzalez, 2003 WL 22238913 (Tex. App. October 1, 2003) does not involve a bail bond forfeiture but is nevertheless interesting. Mr. Villanueva deeded property to Mr. Gonzalez which Mr. Gonzalez used as security for bail bonds he wrote. Mr Gonzalez was supposed to pay Mr. Villanueva half the profits but failed to pay. The court held that the agreement was a violation of section 1704.252(9) of the Texas Occupations Code which authorizes a county bail bond board to revoke the license of anyone who pays a commission or fee to, or divides commissions or fees with, a person or business entity not licensed under Chapter 1704 (which regulates bail bond sureties). Since the agreement was illegal, the court refused to enforce it and left the parties where they stood. Mr. Gonzalez apparently gets to keep the property and not pay Mr. Villanueva the promised half of the profits.

International Fidelity Ins. Co. v. State of Texas, 2003 WL 22976423 (Tex. App. December 17, 2003) considered whether appeal of a bail bond forfeiture is a civil or criminal matter and which procedural rules apply. The court held that the appeal was a criminal matter but that pursuant to Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Art. 44.44 the civil rules governed. The court then granted the surety’s motion to dismiss its appeal.

In Maya v. State, 2004 WL 57405 (Tex. App. January 14, 2004) the surety filed an “affidavit to go off bond” pursuant to Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 17.19 but did not bring it to the magistrate’s attention. Before it was acted upon, the defendant failed to appear and the bond was forfeited. The court held that the mere filing of the affidavit did not give the surety an affirmative defense to the bond forfeiture. Under the statute, the surety has a defense if the magistrate or court refuses to issue a warrant as requested by the surety. The failure to act on the surety’s filing of the affidavit was not such a refusal.

In Soileau v. State of Texas, 2004 WL 78176 (Tex. App. January 20, 2004) the court rejected a number of technical objections to the state’s summary judgment. The surety argued that the exhibits to the summary judgment motion were not properly authenticated, but the court pointed out that the originals were part of the record on appeal. The surety argued that the record did not establish that the principal was served, but the court had ordered the citation of the judgment nisi to be served, and there was no evidence offered to overcome the presumption the court’s order was carried out. The surety argued that the principal was not properly served with the summary judgment motion, therefore the judgment against the principal was void, and there could be no judgment against the surety without a judgment against the principal. The court held that bail forfeiture is a criminal law matter, the civil law of guarantees is inapplicable, and there could be a judgment against the surety even if the principal had been dismissed.

In re Ernesto C. Casteneda, 2004 WL 572355 (Tex. App. March 24, 2004) denied a petition to review the trial court’s refusal to accept Mr. Casteneda as a surety because he had not paid forfeiture judgments in other cases. Tex. Code of Crim. Proc. Art. 17.11, §2 disqualifies a surety in default on a bail bond.

Baeza v. State of Texas, 2004 WL 803895 (Tex. App. April 15, 2004) affirmed judgment on a bond. One element of a bond forfeiture in Texas is that the name of the defendant was called distinctly at the courthouse door. The trial court took judicial notice that this was done, and on appeal the surety objected to such judicial notice. The objection was not made in the trial court, however, and thus not preserved for review on appeal.

Burns v. State of Texas, 2004 WL 1007621 (Tex. App. May 5, 2004) and three companion cases (2004 WL 1007697, 1007772, and 1007827) all upheld the application of a formula to determine the amount of a forfeited bond to be remitted if the defendant is surrendered. The Court also held that Lyles v. State, 850 S.W.2d 497 (Tex. Crim. App. 1993) definitely decided that subsection (a) of a former statute directing remission of the entire bond amount less certain costs was unconstitutional, and refused to reconsider that holding.

Taylor v. State of Texas, 2004 WL 1171731 (Tex. App. May 27, 2004) reversed a judgment against a bail agent who had signed the bond only on behalf of the surety. The state conceded that the agent should not have been personally liable.

Ex parte Durst, 2004 WL 1193225 (Tex. App. June 1, 2004) held that bail of $1 billion on each of three charges was unconstitutionally excessive. The defendant was a proven flight risk and wealthy, but the trial judge had imposed conditions to address the flight risk including that the defendant pay the cost of 24 hour surveillance by a licensed peace officer selected by the court. The three charges were third degree felonies: bail jumping, failure to appear and destruction of evidence. The majority opinion did not say what amount of bail it considered to be constitutionally permitted under the facts of the case, but a concurring opinion argued the court should save time by specifying between $150,000 and $200,000.

In Cardona v. State, 2004 WL 1347275 (Tex. App. June 16, 2004) the defendant was convicted and sentenced by the trial court, but his conviction was overturned by the Court of Appeals. The State intends to seek discretionary review of the Court of Appeals decision in the Court of Criminal Appeals. The defendant requested bail pending the State’s appeal, and the Court reviewed the criteria to be applied in determining the amount of bail. [Not published.]

Castenada v. State 138 S.W.3d 304 (Tex. Crim. App. June 30, 2004) grants reconsideration of Castaneda v. State, 2003 WL 21509098 (Tex. Crim. App. July 2, 2003) and reverses the result. In its initial decision the Court held that the surety was automatically discharged under Art. 17.16 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure because it delivered to the Sheriff an affidavit stating that the defendant accused drug dealers were in INS custody and the Sheriff verified that fact. On reconsideration, the Court held that it would not consider the Art. 17.16 defense because it was not raised in the trial court. The Court then went on to reject the surety’s other contentions either because they also were not raised in the trial court or because they were not supported by the record.

In four State v. Williams cases, 2004 WL 1632561, 1632648, 1632650 and 1632917 (Tex. App. July 22, 2004) the court rejected the surety’s argument that a certified copy of the bail bond should not have been admitted into evidence and that the bond principal had to be served with the citation. On the latter point, the court did not address the merits of the question because the surety did not raise the issue before the trial court, and in two of the cases the principal was served anyway. [Not published].

In Cowboy Bail Bonds v. State, 2004 WL 1879643 (Tex. App. August 24, 2004) the court held that the surety had not complied with Article 17.19 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Article 17.19 allows a surety to file an affidavit of its intention to surrender the defendant. If the court refuses to issue a bench warrant for the defendant and the defendant fails to appear for a subsequent court date, the bond is discharged. The bail agent filed an “affidavit to go off bond” but did nothing to bring the affidavit to the court’s attention or secure a ruling on it. The Court never took it up, and the defendant subsequently failed to appear. The Court of Appeals held that just filing the affidavit is insufficient to cause the court’s inaction to constitute a “refusal” to issue the warrant. [Not published].

In Harris County Bail Bond Board v. Pruett, 2004 WL 2307362 (Tex. App. October 14, 2004) the court considered challenges to two Rules promulgated by the Harris Count Bail Bond Board. Rule 24 forbids bail bondsmen or anyone working for them from soliciting bail bond business from persons with outstanding warrants (that is, from contacting the criminal before he or she is arrested). Rule 25 forbids the solicitation of bail bond business within 24 hours of arrest or during other than normal business hours. Both rules have an exception for a bail agent with an existing bond for the defendant, and Rule 25 also excepts a bail agent with a prior relationship with the defendant. The Court rejected all the challenges to both rules except a First Amendment challenge to Rule 25. The court reasoned that the purported purpose of Rule 25, to prevent harassment of citizens, was substantially undercut by the exception and the real effect of the Rule was to prevent competition by bail bondsmen who did not have a prior or current relationship with the defendant.

In Alkek v. State, 2004 WL 2472262 (Tex. App. November 4, 2004) notice of the judgment nisi was not mailed to the bond principal at the address stated on the bond, and the judgment was against only the surety. There was no dispute that this was not in accordance with statutory requirements. In a 2-1 decision, however, the Court held that the judgment appealed from was not final and, therefore, the appeal should be dismissed. The dissent argued that the judgments were final and reversible.

Gonzalez Bail Bonds v. State, 147 S.W.3d 557 (Tex. App. 2004) vacated summary judgment forfeiting the bond. The defendant was not indicted at the next term of court after he was admitted to bail. That would exonerate the bond unless he was bound over before indictment and the prosecution was continued by order of the court. The record in the case did not show that the prosecution was continued by court order. The court held that was sufficient to raise a genuine issue of fact precluding summary judgment. The dissent would have affirmed the summary judgment on the theory that there was no reason to believe that an order granting such a continuation would appear in the record of the case and, therefore, there was no inference to be drawn from its absence. The court also stated that ratification and estoppel are principles of civil substantive law not applicable in bail forfeiture proceedings.

Kubosh v. State, 2004 WL 2966391 (Tex. App. December 23, 2004) affirmed judgments forfeiting two bonds. After being released, the defendant was arrested on another charge, and while he was in custody, the bail bondsman surrendered the bonds with an affidavit to the court, and a warrant was issued for the defendant’s arrest. Article 17.16 of the Texas Code of Crim. Proc. provides that the surety can secure discharge of the bonds if it delivers to the Sheriff of the county in which the prosecution is pending an affidavit that the defendant is in custody and the Sheriff verifies the incarceration. Instead of following the statutory procedure, however, the bondsman telephoned the jail, told a deputy that the arrest warrants had been issued, and asked that a “hold” be placed on the defendant. The Court held that the bondsman was not entitled to relief since he had not complied with the statute. It also rejected his argument that public policy required the sheriff to verify the defendant’s incarceration upon receipt of the telephone call. The Court stated that it had to follow law and precedent not public policy.

Kubosh v. State, 177 S.W.3d 156 (Tex. App. 2005) rejected the surety’s argument that the bond should have been exonerated because the defendant was in Mexico and the Mexican government did not issue a “provisional warrant” for his arrest because of inadequate policies of the Harris County District Attorneys Office. The Court held that the four grounds stated in Tex. Code of Criminal Procedure §22.13(a) were the only grounds to exonerate the bond, and the surety’s argument did not fit under any of them.

Harris County Bail Bond Board v. Pruett, 177 S.W.3d 260 (Tex. App. 2005) denies motions for rehearing of the Court’s opinion at Harris County Bail Bond Board v. Pruett, 2004 WL 2307362 (Tex. App. October 14, 2004) but files a replacement opinion reaching the same ultimate conclusion. The case involves the enforceability of Harris County Bail Bond Board Rules 24 and 25, and the Court rejected all the challenges to both rules except a First Amendment challenge to the part of Rule 25 forbidding solicitation within 24 hours of arrest by anyone who does not have a prior or existing relationship with the defendant.

Allegheny Casualty Co. v. State, 2005 WL 780302 (Tex. App. – El Paso April 7, 2005) is another case involving a defendant turned over to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). He was arrested trying to enter the United States with 42 pounds of marijuana and charged in state court. Bond was set at $1,500 and the defendant was released to INS, which removed him back to Mexico. Needless to say, he did not take advantage of the fact that he could have applied to return to the U.S. for his court appearance. The bond was forfeited. The surety argued that deportation of the defendant prior to the time he was to appear is an automatic exoneration of the bond or, at least, an “uncontrollable circumstance” preventing the defendant’s appearance and discharging the surety under Texas law. The court rejected both arguments. The court noted the practically penalty-free attempt to import 42 pounds of marijuana and stated, “Now appellant would like this Court to excuse it from this minimal obligation under the bond entirely, allowing it to make a tidy profit on a scheme which is obvious to all but the most naive.” A logical question is why bond was set at only $1,500 if everyone involved knew it was in effect a fine and the only penalty the defendant was likely to face.

Harrell v. Bowles, 2005 WL 975378 (N.D. Tex. April 25, 2005) rejected a constitutional challenge filed by sureties who deposited cash bonds. The sureties argued that the Sheriff’s refusal to return the deposits, charging of unauthorized fees, retention of interest earned, and refusal to turn over abandoned funds were unconstitutional takings. The court held that the sureties had not availed themselves of the clear state law procedure to seek return of the deposits and other relief and, therefore, they could not assert a claim for an unconstitutional taking. The plaintiffs’ claims were dismissed without prejudice. It appears from the decision that no corporate surety bail bonds were involved. Rather the sureties were individuals who acted as sureties by depositing funds with the Sheriff.

In Vance v. McRae, 2005 WL 1105076 (W.D. Tex. April 29, 2005) a bail bondsman sued the Bexar County Bail Bond Board and one of its members for various civil rights violations. The defendants’ motions for summary judgment were granted in part and denied in part. The Board suspended the plaintiff’s license, but on appeal the state court lifted the suspension and returned the plaintiff to full licensed status. The plaintiff filed this federal suit seeking damages. The Court held that the Board was subject to suit and did not have judicial immunity but that the individual member of the Board was immune from suit on certain statutory claims. The Court rejected the Board’s argument that the claims were barred by a “deliberative and decisional process privilege.”

In Ranger Insurance Co. v. State, 2005 WL 1384319 (Tex. App. – Hous. June 2, 2005) the surety argued that Article 102 of the Honduran Constitution forbidding extradition of a Honduran citizen was an “uncontrollable circumstance” within the meaning of Art. 22.13(a)(3) of the Texas Penal Code because it prevented the surety from returning the defendant. The court held that the surety had not established a factual basis in the record for its argument and affirmed the judgment of forfeiture. The court did not address the substance of the surety’s contention.

In re State of Texas ex rel. Jose R. Rodriguez, 166 S.W.3d 894 (Tex. App. – El Paso 2005) held that the County Attorney could represent the state in the bond forfeiture proceeding and that the surety did not have standing to complain that the County Attorney’s simultaneous service on the County Bail Bond Board and representation of the state in bond forfeiture proceedings was a conflict of interest. The appeal was by a request for a writ of mandamus to the trial court, which had disqualified the County Attorney, and the Court of Appeals directed the trial court to vacate its opinion with the writ of mandamus to issue if it failed to do so.

Trevino v. State, 2005 WL 1643184 (Tex. App. – Corpus Christi July 14, 2005) affirmed judgments forfeiting two bonds in spite of the fact that the bonds described the charge against the defendant as “Theft by Possession” and the judgment nisi stated that the indictment charged the defendant with engaging in organized criminal activity. The trial court took judicial notice of the criminal case files and found that the acts of theft by possession were the basis for the criminal conspiracy and that all the charges were from the same criminal episode. The Court held that the variance was reconciled and not fatal to forfeiture of the bonds.

Alkek v. State of Texas, 2005 WL 1907778 (Tex. App. – Corpus Christi August 11, 2005) denied the surety’s appeal for lack of jurisdiction. After the judgment of forfeiture was entered, the surety filed a timely petition for a Special Bill of Review that was denied. The surety did not appeal, but after 30 days had run filed another petition for a Special Bill of Review. Eventually, the surety appealed from denial of the second petition. The Court held that when the appeal period ran after denial of the first, timely petition, the trial court did not have jurisdiction to reconsider the judgment and therefore the Court of Appeals did not have jurisdiction over the appeal.

Williams v. State of Texas, 2005 WL 1907685 (Tex. App. – Corpus Christi August 11, 2005) and Williams v. State of Texas, 2005 WL 1907686 (Tex. App. – Corpus Christi August 11, 2005) both rejected three arguments made by the surety and affirmed judgments forfeiting the bonds. In both cases, the Court held that the bond principal was properly noticed by mailing to the address on the bond and that a certified copy of the bail bond was properly admitted into evidence under the public records exception to the hearsay rule. The Court also held that the post-forfeiture appearance and guilty plea of the defendant (Westlaw No. 1907686) and post-forfeiture dismissal of the criminal case (Westlaw No. 1907685) were not grounds to discharge the surety under Tex. Code of Crim. Proc. Art. 22.13.

Pruett v. The Harris County Bail Bond Board, 2005 WL 3047062 (S.D.Tex. May 20, 2005) held that Tex. Occupations Code §1704.109 was unconstitutional and enjoined its enforcement. The Code section forbad “a bail bond surety, an agent of a corporate surety, or an employee of the surety or agent” from taking certain acts to solicit bail bond business. The prohibited acts were soliciting business from an individual for whom a warrant had been issued but not served unless the surety or agent had a prior bail bond on the individual and soliciting business in person or by telephone between 9:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m. or within 24 hours following the individual’s arrest. The Court held that the statute violated the First Amendment of the Constitution. It agreed that the prohibited acts were commercial speech but was not convinced that the restrictions directly and materially advanced the state’s interest in preventing harassment and protecting law enforcement officers or that the restrictions were narrowly drawn. In Harris County Bail Bond Board v. Pruett, 2004 WL 2307362 (Tex. App. October 14, 2004) the Texas Court of Appeals considered a Bail Bond Board Rule very similar to §1704.109 and held that it also violated the First Amendment.

Smith v. Johnson County Bail Bond Board, 2005 WL 3436798 (Tex. App. December 14, 2005) affirmed denial of an application for a license to act as the agent of a licensed bail bondsperson. The Board’s Local Rule 10.1 required such an applicant to meet all the requirements of the Texas Bail Bond Act, and one of those requirements was that the applicant not be a convicted felon. The applicant had a felony conviction, and so was properly rejected. The Court upheld Local Rule 10.1 as within the Board’s authority and not a violation of the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Olivarez v. State, 2005 WL 3501714 (Tex. App. – Waco December 21, 2005) dismissed the bondsman’s appeal because she failed to file a docketing statement. Much of the opinion, however, discusses the payment of fees applicable to civil appeals in bond forfeiture cases. The Court stated that such fees are owed but, since they were not customarily collected, they would be waived in this and all other pending appeals. A dissent agrees that the fees are owed, but would not waive them. The dissent would have given the appellant notice that the appeal would be dismissed if she did not pay the fees and file the docketing statement. [Published].

In Kubosh v. State, 2006 WL 560186 (Tex.App. – Houston March 9, 2006) the State asked the trial court to take judicial notice of the bond and the judgment nisi in the court file and rested its case. The surety agreed the court could take judicial notice of its own file but objected to admission of the bond into evidence. The trial court entered judgment in favor of the State and the surety appealed on the ground that the evidence was not sufficient to support the judgment. The Court of Appeals held that the trial court could take judicial notice of the documents, that the surety’s evidentiary objections were not raised on appeal, and that the bond and judgment nisi were sufficient evidence to meet the State’s burden of proof. The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment.

Tennessee Bail Law

In State v. Davis, 2004 WL 892530 (Tenn. Crim. App. April 26, 2004) the defendant was arrested for DUI and posted a $1,750 bond. He appeared as required, pled guilty and was sentenced to 48 hours in jail, the balance of a year on probation and a $350 fine. He was also ordered not to drive for a year and to appear before the court in three months for a “probation hearing.” He served the 48 hours but did not pay the fine or appear for the probation hearing. The court forfeited the bond and ordered the bondsman to pay the fine plus costs. On appeal the State and the bondsman agreed that the bond was discharged when the defendant pled guilty and was sentenced, but the court of appeals disagreed. It held that the statute relied on by the bondsman had been partially repealed by implication because in another statute enacted later the legislature allowed the court to continue the bond if a defendant is granted probation. Since the entire bond of $1,750 could be forfeit, the court had discretion to reduce the forfeiture to the amount of the fine and costs and then to apply the forfeited sum to their payment. The Court of Appeals issued a superceding opinion, State v. Davis, 2004 WL 1056474 (Tenn. Crim. App. May11, 2004), and the Supreme Court reversed the case, State v. Davis, 2005 WL 2396274 (Tenn. September 29, 2005).

In re Guy James Bonding, 2004 WL 1402562 (Tenn. Crim. App. June 23, 2004) reviewed the statutory basis for relief from forfeiture under Tennessee law. The defendant failed to appear and a conditional forfeiture was entered. The surety paid the forfeiture but subsequently recovered and surrendered the defendant. The trial court denied relief from the forfeiture on the ground that the request came too late. The Court of Appeals reversed and held that once the bail amount was paid, whether there was a final forfeiture order or not, relief could be granted under only Tenn. Code §40-11-204 and that there was no time limit for relief under that statute. The relief is equitable, however, and the party seeking it must establish a basis on which it should be granted. The case, therefore, was remanded to the trial court to hold a hearing to determine the relief, if any, to which the surety is entitled.

In Graham v. General Sessions Court of Franklin County, 2004 WL 2246195 (Tenn. Ct. App. October 5, 2004) two professional bondsmen challenged an order that bail of less than $4,400 could be made by any two owners of real property in Franklin County. The Court of Appeals held that aspect of the order violated the controlling Tennessee statute, which requires that persons guarantying bail have a net worth in excess of the bail amount, and designating the sheriff or judicial commissioner as the officials to decide whether the statutory requirements have been met.

In re AB Bonding Company, Inc., 2004 WL 2853540 (Tenn. Crim. App. December 10, 2004) dismissed the surety’s appeal of the trial court’s denial of the surety’s motion to remit forfeitures of a series of bonds for the same defendant. After the defendant failed to appear, the surety paid the full amount of the bonds and hired a bounty hunter who eventually recovered the defendant. The trial court remitted the amount of the surety’s expenses in the successful recovery effort but denied relief as to the rest of the forfeitures. The surety appealed. The Court held that the record did not include final judgments entered by the trial court against the surety, that final judgments are a necessary prerequisite to jurisdiction in the court of appeals, and that the appeal accordingly must be dismissed.

In State v. Bradley, 2005 WL 1105182 (Tenn. Crim. App. May 5, 2005) the defendant was charged in General Sessions court with several traffic offenses and released on $10,000 bond. He failed to appear and a conditional judgment was entered to forfeit the bond. He was later indicted by a grand jury for the same offenses and the Circuit Court forfeited the bond. The surety paid the forfeiture, but eventually located the defendant in jail in another state. He was returned to Tennessee and pled guilty. The Court of Appeals held that the surety was entitled to return of the forfeited amount because the bond was posted in the General Sessions court and the Circuit Court proceeding was a new action not a transfer of the General Sessions case. The Circuit Court was without jurisdiction to forfeit the bond, and its judgment of forfeiture was void. Only the General Sessions court could forfeit the bond, and it had not done so when the defendant appeared and pled guilty. This disposition of the charges against him operated to discharge his surety. Therefore, the surety was entitled to return of its $10,000.

In City Bonding Company, Inc. v. Hauther, 2005 WL 1159431 (E.D. Tenn. May 17, 2005) an established professional bail bond firm, City Bonding Company, Inc., sued a start-up firm, City & County Bail Bonding Company, Inc., for trademark infringement and unfair competition. The Court granted a preliminary injunction against the defendant’s use of a name confusingly similar to City Bonding Company.

In State v. Cabellero-Grajeda, 2005 WL 1931402 (Tenn. Crim. App. August 11, 2005) the defendant’s girlfriend pledged property in El Paso, Texas as security for the bond. The defendant was turned over to INS, which subsequently released him on another bond. After he failed to appear for trial and his bond was conditionally forfeited, the bondsman discovered that the girlfriend did not own the property in El Paso. The bondsman sought relief because the state had indicted the defendant on another, more serious charge after his release, because the girlfriend did not own the property, and because the defendant was turned over to INS. The Court affirmed the trial court’s denial of the requested relief and also held that the criminal court did not have jurisdiction over the bondsman’s claim against the girlfriend.

State v. Davis, 2005 WL 2396274 (Tenn. September 29, 2005) reversed the Court of Criminal Appeals decision reported at 2004 WL 1056474 (Tenn. Crim. App. May 11, 2004) and held the bond was discharged and the surety released from liability once the defendant was convicted and sentenced. Therefore, the surety could have no responsibility for the fees and costs owed by the defendant who did not appear at a post-sentence probation hearing.