Author Archives: Jeff Downer

Jeff Downer

Bail bondsman and owner of Jeff Downer Bail Bonds located in Indianapolis, IN.

Stowaways and Bail

Jeff Downer  Bail is an international criminal justice practice.  The implementation of bail around the world can very greatly with each country and unique situations can certainly arise when determining admittance to bail.

I recently came across this news article from the Pacific island country of Fiji.   The Chief Justice of Fiji was weighing a defendant’s past history of being charged as a stowaway while deciding if he should be eligible for bail.  Apparently stowing on away is a common enough practice to be considered a criminal act in Fiji.  The court eventually decided to allow the defendant to post bail with a series of strict conditions.

I must admit that this kind of thing just doesn’t come out during bail hearings here in Indiana, but it does make me wonder if anyone rides the rails out of town anymore.

Posted in Bail, Bail Bonds, International.

What Do You Do with a Drunken Sailor?

Jeff Downer   Remember this old sea shanty tune?

What shall we do with a drunken sailor,

What shall we do with a drunken sailor,

What shall we do with a drunken sailor,

Early in the morning?

That was the question being asked when Laguna Beach, CA police arrested an unidentified man for boating under the influence after his sailboat ran aground.

The  answer of course:

Haul him away to post bail with the jailer,

Haul him away to post bail with the jailer,

Haul him away to post bail with the jailer,

Early in the morning.

Although the inebriated sailor was not named, word on the street says it was either Captain Morgan or Sailor Jerry.

Posted in Bail, National, Smiles.

When I Sign on a Bail Bond, What Are My Responsibilities?

Jeff Downer  When an individual bails someone out of jail they are presented with a lot of paperwork to sign consisting of what is often disparagingly called legalese.  Such fineprint found on bail bond applications is often not readily transparent and as might be expected spells out significant responsibilities of the person (called the indemnitor) signing on the bond.

What the paperwork is spelling out is that if the defendant fails to appear, the indemnitor is agreeing to bear the financial repercussions of the defendant failing to appear in court.  These repercussions include:

  • Costs of locating, apprehending and transporting the defendant
  • Any legal fees incurred
  • The amount of the bail bond forfeited to the court

Undertaking such obligations requires some serious thought.  The foremost question, of course, being:  Is the defendant a flight risk?   As long the defendant attends all their court dates, the indemnitor has nothing to fear.  If the defendant does become a fugitive the indemnitor must be willing to work with the bonding company to locate the defendant in order to minimize any financial obligations that may be incurred.

When considering whether to bond someone out, please bear these things in mind and do not hesitate to ask the bail agent any questions you might have about the paperwork you would be expected to sign.

Find here the application forms we use at Jeff Downer Bail Bonds.

Posted in Bail, Bail Bonds, Business, Legal, Surety Bond. Tagged with , , .

Bounty Hunters and Professionalism

Jeff Downer  As a bail professional I often find myself despairing over a never ending series of bounty hunter themed reality television programs hitting the airwaves.   During these programs, television production values and contrived scenarios trump depictions of responsibly conducted fugitive recovery operations.  Chief among these TV bounty hunters is Duane Chapman, better known as “Dog the Bounty Hunter”.

Mr. Chapman first gained fame by seizing fugitive cosmetics heir Andrew Luster in Mexico.  Mr Luster had fled to Mexico while facing trial in California.  Since bounty hunting is illegal in Mexico, Mr. Chapman was arrested while attempting to return Mr. Luster to the US.  Eventually Mr. Chapman posted bail and proceeded to flee the Mexican authorities, becoming a fugitive himself; an embarrassing status he maintained for years before eventually outlasting Mexico’s statue of limitations and having the case dropped.

In contrast to Mr. Chapman’s Mexican experience, I recently came across an account of Jim Elliot, a fugitive recovery agent from Utah, who helped organize a successful fugitive recovery effort in Mexico which involved both the Mexican and American law enforcement communities.

As I read the account and watched the accompanying video I could not help but be impressed by the professional and effective approach Mr. Elliot employed as opposed to the Keystone Cops style adventure of Mr. Chapman.  Mr. Elliot was even able to accompany Mexican police as they made the rather exciting fugitive apprehension instead of being arrested himself.  The complete news account may be found here.

If you find yourself watching bounty hunter television shows, please keep in mind that it is just TV and remember that it is recovery agents like Jim Elliot who are the ones keeping it real.

Posted in Bounty Hunter, Fugitive, International, Law Enforcement, Recovery Agent.

Travel with Outstanding Warrants

Jeff Downer  I spend a fair amount of time reading and participating in criminal justice blogs and forums.  A common concern seems to be about traveling with outstanding arrest warrants.  People want to know if they are liable to be arrested on these warrants while passing through airports and other ports of call.

The answer is arrest on an outstanding warrant is a distinct possibility.  Consider the plight of the mother who was arrested on a warrant while  disembarking from a Disney cruise with her family in Port Canaveral, FL (“Book her Mickey!”).

It seems that she had been arrested for stealing a pack of cigarettes at Walmart when she was 18.  She had failed to pay $85 in court costs and a warrant had been issued some 22 years earlier.

She remained in custody without bail for several days until she could transferred to the originating jurisdiction of the warrant and take care of the matter.

If you do have a warrant, traveler beware.

Posted in Bail, Fugitive, International, Law Enforcement. Tagged with , .

Well…This is Something New.

Jeff Downer  As I get older and more jaded, I am sometimes lulled into thinking that I have heard it all when it comes to bail bonds.  Then I come across something like this.


Former Kampala socialite and jailbird Bad Black aka Shanita Namuyimbwa has successfully had her breast implants fixed after she secured a sh100m bail to seek treatment in Dubai.

Once again, I stand corrected.  All I got to say is: Dubai or bust.

Posted in Bail, International, Smiles.

Magic Kingdom Mischief

Jeff Downer   Just ran across this account of a (thankfully) minor traffic incident involving an undercover police officer and a Disneyland employee in Anaheim, CA.  It seems that local law enforcement was conducting an undercover operation at the intersection of Disneyland Drive at Magic Way.

What could have instigated an law enforcement investigation at that location?  Mickey pimping Minnie?  Snow White selling blow?  Mouseketeers wearing gang colors?

I can only imagine Deputy Donald Duck reading them their rights.

Posted in Bail, Law Enforcement, Smiles.

Where to Post a Marion County Cash Bond

Jeff Downer  In Marion County, IN bail bonds are often required by the courts to be of the cash variety.  Cash bonds are commonly referred to as CS bonds and are paid directly to the court clerk.  The cash bond may be posted as a stand alone bond or as part of a split bond (known as XC or XR bonds) in conjunction with a surety bail bond posted by a bail bondsman.

The question then arises of where these cash bonds can be posted.  There are two locations where cash bonds are accepted.  These locations are the City-County Building in Room T-644 or at the Arrestee Processing Center (APC) at 752 East Market Street.

The City-County Building location is open week days during normal business hours while the APC court clerks is available on a 24/7 basis.  For accessibility and parking reasons I would suggest posting a cash bond at the APC.

Click here for phone numbers and directions for the court clerks office and the APC.

Posted in Bail, Bail Bonds, Cash Bond, Indiana, Indianapolis. Tagged with .

How Long Is a Surety Bail Bond Valid?

Jeff Downer  When a bail agent posts a bond, it is called an undertaking.  Bail agents are often asked how long the bail bond undertaking is valid.  This question is generally concerns whether the bond is only intended for appearance at the initial hearing of the case.

The answer is the bail bond in effect for all court appearances ordered by the judge for a period of three years.  This is per the following section of the Indiana Code:

Indiana Code 27-10-2-3
Undertakings; validity; defect of form or other irregularity; expiration
Sec. 3. (a) An undertaking is valid if it states:
(1) the court where the defendant is to appear;
(2) the amount of the b l; and
(3) that it was made before an official legally authorized to take the bond.
(b) A surety remains liable on an undertaking despite:
(1) any lack of the surety’s qualifications as required by section 4 of this chapter;
(2) any other agreement that is expressed in the undertaking;
(3) any failure of the defendant to join in the undertaking; or
(4) any other defect of form or record, or any other irregularity, except as to matters covered by subsection (a).
(c) Any undertaking written after August 31, 1985, shall expire thirty-six (36) months after it is posted for the release of a defendant from custody. This section does not apply to cases in which a bond has been declared to be forfeited and the surety and bail agent have been notified as described in section 12 of this chapter.
As added by P.L.261-1985, SEC.1. Amended by P.L.355-1989(ss), SEC.1; P.L.105-2010, SEC.6.

If the case goes over the three year period the bond must be renewed to for the undertaking to remain in place.  That being said, in my experience I have never had an undertaking reach the three year expiration limit.

Posted in Bail Bonds, Business, Indiana, Law, Surety Bond.

Ex Congressional Candidate Was A Fugitive

Jeff Downer  Gary Smith, one time candidate for the US House of Representatives in New Mexico, has been in the news recently for being arrested and charged with stalking and vandalizing the property of a former opponent.

Formerly a Texas resident, Mr. Smith claimed he had relocated to New Mexico in order spread his political vision.  Apparently there was a little more to it than that.  It turns out Mr. Smith also was facing warrants for aggravated assault and mischief charges in El Paso, TX as related here.

There is a lesson to be learned here.  Perhaps we should consider requiring all congressional and senatorial candidates to undergo criminal background checks.

It would make good television.  Much better than those so called “Bounty Hunter” shows.  Have “Dog” Chapman do the background checks and then sit down with folks like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to go over their results.  Call it something catchy like: Face the Dog or Dog: CST (Congressional Skip Tracer).  Then air the show on C-SPAN to liven them up.

Now that’s something I would watch.


Posted in Bounty Hunter, Fugitive, National, Smiles. Tagged with .