Entries Tagged as 'Bail Bond Stories'

Getting Even

How do I start this story…Hmmm…Well I got a call from a gentleman that ask if I were a notary and I responded to him by saying yes…Well he proceeded to tell me his name and where he lived…He lived in the small town of Savage Minnesota and he needed  my services and that his name was Jimmy…So I asked him how I could help him…He explained that his wife was in jail at West Valley Detention Facility in Rancho Cucamonga California on a Fraud case and that she was going to be there for at least a year…So he needed a power of attorney signed by her so that he could take care of their affairs while she was in jail…So he asked how much I charged and he said he would send me the money and the Power of Attorney right away… [Read more →]

Serious as a Heart Attack

I was bailing out a male defendant from the Burbank P D one Tuesday afternoon. I met with his co-worker who had nothing but good things to say about the defendant. Upon completing all the paperwork, I posted the bond and was told that the defendant would be released in one hour. I decided to wait for him and receive his signatures.Upon his release he was very friendly and grateful for my attention to detail and expediting the bail release process for him. His co-worker had since left as he had to get back to work. In about ten minutes the defendant became very irate and very uncomfortable to be around as I started asking personal information. This is to be expected and I must say that I enjoy it. I continued to inquire more information and I knew I struck a nerve when I asked him about his wife. Oh boy, here it comes, the old, I hate that such and such and she’s a gold digging, nickel bending, yada, yada and more yada. [Read more →]

“Rehabilitated”

Aside from the high risk and the fugitives, the missed vacations and phones ringing at all hours, bail agents have a pretty good job. Occasionally we are handed a case that reminds us how effective the bail system can be. [Read more →]

“Going Into Labor”

Once when I was working with Jake, one of our defendants failed to appear in court. We had doubts about him to begin with, and he had caused nothing but trouble. He’d lied on his paperwork, [Read more →]

“Mall Security”

A defendant charged with child molestation skipped town. I had his photo, and I knew he lived near a shopping mall where his sister worked. Even though he left his home, I figured his sister was the best lead I had. [Read more →]

“Turning The Law Upside Down”

This is a frightening situation about a criminal who knew the law too well. A convicted sex offender, he was required to register in California, where he lived with his wife, stepchildren and one child from a previous marriage.
He worked as a truck driver. [Read more →]

“The Prostitute’s Car”

It happened about twice a week between midnight and 2:00 a.m. A guy named Joe would call and with a bunch of slang talk, explain to me that he needed to bail out his girlfriend who had just been arrested. He never bothered to change his name or his accent. He just kept calling, and every time he called, he’d say, “Yeah, this is Joe. My girlfriend’s in jail.”
I didn’t have to be a seasoned veteran to know he was a pimp calling to bail out one of his prostitutes. [Read more →]

“Court Surrender”

I had just started working as a bondsman and I was with a big agency. My two bosses wanted me at court with them one day. A defendant was supposed to appear, and they intended to surrender him back to the court. [Read more →]

Louisiana Bail Law

In State v. Futch, 2004 WL 626204 (La. App. March 31 2004) the surety moved to set aside a bond forfeiture because the record did not show that the defendant was given notice of the date he was to appear. The Court affirmed denial of the motion because Art. 344 of the La. Code of Criminal Procedure requires notice after the initial appearance only to the surety, agent or bondsman not to the defendant. Since notice was given to the surety, the forfeiture was correct.

In State v. Ainsworth, 2004 WL 1459356 (La. App. June 29, 2004) the surety had two grounds to set aside forfeiture of the defendant’s bond. The surety argued that the state did not give the defendant the required notice of the appearance date and that the defendant was incarcerated in another jurisdiction on the appearance date. The Court held that under Louisiana statutes some defenses must be raised within 60 days and some within six months. The alleged lack of notice is a 60-day defense, and it was first raised by motion filed more than 60 days after the notice of forfeiture was mailed. In addition to being untimely, the defense failed on its merits because the state tried to serve notice of the appearance date on the defendant at the false address he gave.

The incarceration is a six-month defense, but the surety did not raise it in its motion or in any amended motion. It was first raised the morning of the hearing which was more than six months after the date the notice of forfeiture was mailed. The statute also requires an affidavit from a public official that the defendant was incarcerated, and the surety provided only an unsworn letter. The Court, therefore, affirmed the trial court’s denial of the surety’s motion to set aside the forfeiture.

Reading between the lines of this case, it appears that the way things have routinely been done has not complied with the applicable statutes and the Court of Appeals is giving notice that it will require strict compliance in the future. [Published].

In State v. Harris, 2004 WL 2072040 (La. App. September 17, 2004) the defendant failed to appear and the bail agent asked the Sheriff to enter the resulting bench warrant in the National Crime Information Center Registry and tendered the $25 fee. The Sheriff refused to enter the warrant, and when the bail agent’s representatives later seized the defendant in another state the local police refused to hold him because there was no confirmation of the warrant in the Registry. The court held that the bond was exonerated pursuant to Art. 345G of the La. Code of Crim. Proc. The court said that it relied on the fact that the $25 was accepted and did not express an opinion on whether the Sheriff could have refused the fee and not entered the warrant. A concurring opinion, however, argues that the Sheriff was obligated to accept the fee and enter the warrant and to refuse would border on malfeasance. Under the terms of the cited statute, it appears that mere refusal to enter the warrant should discharge the surety, and the fact that the defendant was later located, and released because of the Sheriff’s failure, was not essential to the holding.

State v. Timberlake, 2004 WL 2290500 (La. App. October 12, 2004) refused to consider the merits of the surety’s motion to set aside forfeiture of its bond because the motion was filed after the expiration of six months from the date notice of the judgment of bond forfeiture was mailed. The motion was, therefore, untimely, pursuant to La. R.S. §15:85. The Court also noted several other avenues of relief that the surety failed to pursue.

State v. Campbell, 889 So.2d 1030 (La. App. 2004) refused to consider the merits of the surety’s appeal from the forfeiture of two bonds. The surety argued that the defendant was not served with notice of the court date upon which she failed to appear and that she was incarcerated in another Parish within six months of the mailing of the notice of bond forfeiture. The surety’s original motion to set aside the forfeiture was based on only the lack of proper notice defense. The Court refused to consider it because it was not filed within 60 days of the mailing of the notice of bond forfeiture as required by La. R.S. §15:85(5). That statute allows six months to assert a defense based on incarceration of the defendant, but the surety did not raise that defense until the hearing on its motion, which was after expiration of the six month period.

State v. McCoy, 889 So.2d 1026 (La. App. 2004) reversed a judgment vacating a bond forfeiture. La. C. Cr. P. Art. 345 allows the surety six months from the mailing of notice of bond forfeiture in which to surrender the defendant. The surety moved to extend the period, the state withdrew its opposition to the motion, and the trial court granted an extension. The surety surrendered the defendant one day after expiration of the extended period. The Court of Appeals held that the trial court did not have discretion to extend the surrender period, and even if the state’s acquiescence legitimized the extension, the surrender was not within the extended period. In addition, the various statutory procedures to obtain relief from the forfeiture were not followed.

In State v. Turner, 2004 WL 2806466 (La. App. December 8, 2004) the criminal falsely identified himself as his younger brother. The Sheriff’s office did nothing to verify his identity. The bond was issued in the name of the brother in reliance on the false identification. The defendant failed to appear and a warrant was issued in the brother’s name. Eventually, the mistake was discovered and corrected. The surety moved to set aside the forfeiture more than six months after the notice of forfeiture was mailed. Nevertheless, both the trial court and the Court of Appeals held that the surety should not be penalized for failing to produce the defendant because that failure was caused by reasonable reliance on false information provided by the state.

State v. Rivera, 894 So.2d 496 (La. App. 2005) affirmed denial of the surety’s motion to set aside forfeiture of its bond. The defendant was a native of Mexico and was voluntarily deported immediately after his release. He did not appear for arraignment and the bond was forfeited. Notice of forfeiture was mailed to the surety and agent. Deportation is not one of the grounds for non-forfeiture enumerated in La. R.S. §15:87 (which can be raised within six months of mailing the notice), and therefore the surety could proceed only by summary proceeding in the criminal case under La. R.S. §15:85. However, such summary proceedings must be brought within the 60-day period following mailing of the notice, and the surety’s motion was untimely.

In State v. Gibson, 2005 WL 675664 (La. App. March 24, 2005) the clerk mailed notice of the judgment of bond forfeiture to the surety and to the defendant, but the envelop to the defendant had the wrong zip code. The rest of the address was correct, and there was no allegation that the notice was not received or that the surety was prejudiced by the error. The surety moved to set aside the judgment, which was denied, and the surety appealed. The Court of appeals affirmed. The statute required mailing to the address on the bond, but does not define address. The court suggests, over a dissent, that the zip code should not be considered part of the address, but the judges agreed that the intent of the statute is to provide notice and that in this instance notice was provided and no prejudice suffered, therefore, in this instance, failure to include the correct zip code did not render the address invalid.

United States v. Green, 2005 WL 1400426 (E.D. La. June 6, 2005) charged a Louisiana district court judge in Jefferson Parish with accepting, and Bail Bonds Unlimited and Norman Bowley with giving, bribes in return for various favors related to bail bonds.

Sanders v. Yentzen, 2005 WL 2035029 (W.D. La. August 23, 2005) unsuccessfully challenged the constitutionality of the Louisiana statutes requiring collection of a $15.00 fee, La. R.S.33:1432(9), and a 2% tax, La.R.S.22:1065.1, in connection with submission of a bail bond. The court dismissed the case in reliance on Broussard v. Parish of Orleans, 318 F.3d 644 (5th Cir. 2003). The court held that as long as the fees and taxes were reasonable administrative charges and not arbitrary punishment, they were constitutional.

Sanders v. Yentzen, 2005 WL 2035029 (W.D. La. August 23, 2005) unsuccessfully challenged the constitutionality of the Louisiana statutes requiring collection of a $15.00 fee, La. R.S.33:1432(9), and a 2% tax, La.R.S.22:1065.1, in connection with submission of a bail bond. The court dismissed the case in reliance on Broussard v. Parish of Orleans, 318 F.3d 644 (5th Cir. 2003). The court held that as long as the fees and taxes were reasonable administrative charges and not arbitrary punishment, they were constitutional.

In State v. Melancon, 2005 WL 2320037 (La. App. September 23, 2005) the defendant failed to appear and the court issued a bench warrant and signed a judgment of bond forfeiture. Some time later the defendant went with a representative of the surety to the sheriff’s office. Upon being informed by the sheriff that she was in his office, the court recalled the warrant. The Court held that her appearance at the sheriff’s office was an “appearance” under La. R.S. 15:85 (that is, “appearance” does not mean just an appearance in court) and the surety was entitled to relief from the forfeiture judgment. [Published].

State v. Davis, 2005 WL 2374722 (La. App. September 28, 2005) affirmed judgment of forfeiture against the surety. The Court rejected the surety’s argument that statutory notice of the court appearance was not given to the defendant. Notice was sent by certified mail and attempted personal delivery to the address the defendant gave on the bond. It turned out to be a vacant house, and the surety argued that actual notice was required. The Court held that the defendant had the obligation to file any change of address, and that notice sent to the address of record in the case was sufficient.

Williams v. City of Jeanerette, 2005 WL 3113024 (W.D.La. November 21, 2005) denied the surety’s motion for summary judgment in a suit based on alleged torts of a bounty hunter. The surety argued that the bounty hunter was an independent contractor, but the court held that there were genuine issues of fact.

In State v. Murphy, 2005 WL 3417332 (La. App. December 14, 2005) the defendant failed to appear and the trial court ordered the bond forfeited and a bench warrant issued, but no judgment of forfeiture was signed. Five months later, the forfeiture was set aside, the warrant recalled, and the defendant ordered to appear on a new date. He again did not appear, and this time a judgment forfeiting the bond was signed and timely notice mailed to the surety and bail agent. The surety argued that because notice was not mailed within 60 days of the original failure to appear and forfeiture, the bond was released. The Court held that the 60 days in which the clerk must mail notice of forfeiture runs from the date of nonappearance that results in a signed forfeiture order. If there is no signed judgment, even though there was a failure to appear, there is no final judgment and no duty to mail the notice. The Court affirmed the trial court’s denial of the surety and agent’s motion to set aside the forfeiture judgment.

In State v. Wilson, 2005 WL 3416282 (La. App. December 14, 2005) Bossier City charged the defendant with theft, and he was ordered to appear in the Bossier City Court. The obligee of the Bond was the Mayor of Bossier City, and the power of attorney stated that it was not transferable to another court except for change of venue under La. C. Cr. P. Art. 626. The Sheriff sent a letter to the defendant telling him to appear to answer the theft charge in the Bossier Parish District Court. The Court held that the bond was discharged because the change of venue procedures of La. C. Cr. P. Articles 621 – 627 were not followed and the power of attorney clearly limited the bond to appearance in the Bossier City court. The Court rejected the state’s argument that the power of attorney was just an agreement between the surety and agent and stated, “the power of attorney is a critical and mandated portion of the bail bonding agreement. It is to be viewed and read as part of the total bail bond agreement.”

In State v. McLaurin, 2006 WL 782849 (La.App. March 28, 2006) the bond contained an appearance date, but the date was changed. The court attempted unsuccessfully to give the defendant notice of the new date by personal service, but did not give the surety notice. The defendant appeared on the original date and filled out a form to change her address. The record does not show whether she was given notice of the new date, but she failed to appear on the new date, and the court forfeited the bond and denied the surety’s motion to set the forfeiture aside. The Court of Appeals reversed because the surety was not given notice of the new appearance date as required by La.C.Cr.P. art. 344. The Court held, “a judgment of bond forfeiture is only to be rendered upon proof of delivery or mailing of notice of the appearance date to the surety, when that date has been changed from the one listed on the appearance bond.” The Court did not reach the problem with notice to the defendant, but expressed skepticism that it would have supported a forfeiture judgment.

In State v. Ramee, 2006 WL 1228942 (La.App. May 9, 2006) the defendant failed to appear and the bond was forfeited. Several months later, but within the six month appearance period, the defendant was incarcerated for two days in another Parish. The Court held that La.C.Cr.P. 345 did not provide relief because the defendant was released. The Court interpreted section 345 to apply only if the surety was unable to return the defendant because the defendant was incarcerated and was still incarcerated. Presumably the Court meant still incarcerated at the time the surety’s motion was filed. The Court disagreed with the trial court that denied the surety’s motion to set aside the forfeiture because the surety did not tender transportation costs pursuant to section 345 but nevertheless affirmed the result because section 345 did not apply at all. The Court also noted that La.R.S. 15:87 provides relief to the surety if the defendant’s original failure to appear was because of incarceration on the appearance date.

In Louisiana Bail Bonds, Inc. v. State, 2006 WL 1329693 (La.App. May 17, 2006) the defendant failed to appear, and the court issued a bench warrant and forfeited the bond. No written order of forfeiture was signed, however, and no notice of forfeiture was mailed. Several months later, the court recalled the bench warrant and set aside the forfeiture. The defendant again failed to appear, and the bond was forfeited properly and notice sent to the surety.

The surety and bail agent argued that the bond was released because no notice was mailed within 60 days of the original failure to appear as required by La. R.S. 15:85. The Court held that the notice requirement applied only if there was a written forfeiture order. Since in this case there was no written order for the first forfeiture, the 60 day period to mail notice did not apply and the trial court was free to set aside the forfeiture and start over. The Court affirmed judgment against the surety.

Kentucky Bail Law

In Martin v. Commonwealth, 2003 WL 22681798 (Ken. App. November 14, 2003) the defendant violated a non-appearance condition of his bond (contact with the minor victim of the crime). The surety, the defendant’s father, appealed forfeiture of 50% of the $20,000 cash bond. The court held that forfeiture was justified but the amount excessive.

Clemons v. Commonwealth, 2004 WL 2484530 (Ken. App. November 5, 2004) held that the bond could be forfeited based on breach of conditions other than appearance and that forfeiture of $5,000 of a $20,000 bond was not excessive where the defendant violated conditions not to consume alcohol and to be at home from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.

Woolsey v. Commonwealth, 2005 WL 1125183 (Ken. App. May 13, 2005) held that a cash bond deposited by the defendant’s mother could be forfeited based on his violation of conditions other than appearance. After release, the defendant was re-arrested on various drug charges. He admitted that he violated the conditions of his release and that the bond could be revoked because of his violation, but he argued that the bond could not be forfeited. The Court disagreed. The case involved a cash bond not a commercial surety bond, and the Court does not discuss what, if any, difference a surety bond would have made to its decision.