Author Archives: Jeff Downer

Jeff Downer

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

Methods of Bail Bond Premium Payment

Jeff Downer  The commercial (surety) bail bond industry in Indiana is heavily regulated.  This regulation extends into how a bail bondsman may accept payment for his services.  This payment is called premium and is defined by Indiana Code as follows:

IC 27-10-1-8
“Premium”
Sec. 8. “Premium” means:
(1) currency issued by the United States of America paid to a bail agent prior to the execution of a bail bond;
(2) a check delivered to a bail agent prior to the execution of the bail bond that must be:
(A) properly payable when delivered; and
(B) deposited in the bail agent’s bank account; or
(3) a credit card transaction if the bail agent:
(A) accepts the credit card; and

(B) obtains:
(i) authorization from the credit card issuer for the amount due; and
(ii) an approval number from the credit card issuer for the credit card transaction;
before the execution of the bail bond.
As added by P.L.261-1985, SEC.1. Amended by P.L.224-1993, SEC.3; P.L.348-1995, SEC.1.

Accepting payment in any other manner is considered to be failure to collect full premium and is considered a felony per Indiana Code:

IC 27-10-4-5
Failure of bail agent to collect full premium
Sec. 5. A bail agent who knowingly or intentionally executes a bail bond without collecting in full a premium for the bail bond, at the premium rate as filed with and approved by the commissioner, commits a Class D felony.
As added by P.L.261-1985, SEC.1. Amended by P.L.224-1993, SEC.29.

Ouch!  So the method of paying premium is strictly limited.  A bail agent may accept cash, debit card, credit card or a check.  The full eight percent of the bond amount set by the court must be paid.  The agent may not accept things like cars, boats or other types of property as premium payment.

The complete section of the Indiana Code governing commercial bail bonds may be found here.

 

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Jennifer Lopez and Al Roker Bounty Hunter Lawsuit

Jeff Downer

Say what?  Per tmz.com:

Jennifer Lopez and Al Roker should think twice before sending their ruthless bounty hunter after an innocent man … and falsely accusing him of being a criminal on national TV — so says a new lawsuit.

Yes,  J Lo and Al are producing a bounty hunting show together.  No, I did not see that coming.

I am not a fan of over the top melodramatic “reality” television shows about bail bonding and fugitive recovery.  Aside from avoiding all that needless made for TV drama, we value our client’s privacy too much to engage in such unprofessional activities like this.

Rest assured Jeff Downer Bail Bonds will not be airing our business or yours on TV.  Not even for the beguiling Jennifer Lopez.  As for you Al…stay out of our neck of the woods.

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Posted in Bail, Bounty Hunter, Fugitive, Legal, Recovery Agent, Smiles. Tagged with , , .

Is Bail Bond Premium Refunded?

Jeff Downer  The fee paid to a bail bondsman is called premium.  The premium is earned by using the bail bond company’s financial resources for the full bond amount as a guarantee the defendant will appear in court.  At Jeff Downer Bail Bonds the premium is set by law at eight percent of the bond amount.

Once the case is over, bail agents often are asked if the premium will be refunded.  The answer is no for two reasons:

The first reason is that the premium was earned.  The defendant did not have come up with the entire amount of the bond to be released.  The bail bond company did that and as an insurer assumed the financial risk of the defendant’s failure to appear in court.

The second reason is that the refunding (or rebating) of premium by bail insurers is prohibited by Indiana law and is a criminal offense:

IC 27-10-4-2
Advising employment of attorney; paying fees or rebates; acting as attorney; accepting property; soliciting business
Sec. 2. (a) A bail agent or recovery agent may not do any of the following:
(1) Suggest or advise the employment of or name for employment any particular attorney to represent the bail agent’s principal.
(2) Pay a fee or rebate or give any property to an attorney in bail bond matters, except in defense of any action on a bond.
(3) Pay a fee or rebate or give or promise any property to the principal or anyone in the bail agent’s behalf.
(4) Participate in the capacity of an attorney at a trial or hearing of one on whose bond the bail agent is surety.
(5) Accept any property from a principal except the premium, bail bond filing fee (when applicable), and transfer fee (when applicable), except that the bail agent or surety may accept collateral security or other indemnity from the principal that must be returned upon final termination of liability on the bond. The collateral security or other indemnity required by the bail agent or surety must be reasonable in relation to the amount of the bond.
(6) Solicit business in or about any place where prisoners are confined or in or near any courtroom.
(b) A person who recklessly violates this section or who operates as a bail agent or recovery agent without a valid license commits a Class A misdemeanor.
As added by P.L.261-1985, SEC.1. Amended by P.L.224-1993, SEC.26.

Confusion about the refunding of premium is understandable. The posting of a cash deposit with the court can be an alternative.  If the defendant has been required by the court or chosen to pay the entire bond amount as a cash bond themselves, then that deposit is eligible to be refunded minus any fines, costs or fees levied by the court.

More information about surety bail bond regulation can be found at the Indiana Department of Insurance Bail Bond Division website.

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Posted in Bail, Bail Bonds, Business, Cash Bond, Indiana, Law, Surety Bond. Tagged with , , , .

Is Murder a Bailable Offense in Indiana?

Jeff Downer  Author’s Note: In June, 2013 the Indiana Supreme Court issued a ruling which changed the scenario in which defendants charged with murder could be held without bail.  Find here a post relating these changes.

The recent arrests of three people in the house explosion on the Indianapolis south side brought to mind the topic of release on bail while charged with murder.

In Indiana the issue of being released on a bail bond is addressed by state statute as follows:

IC 35-33-8-2
Murder; other offenses
Sec. 2. (a) Murder is not bailable when the proof is evident or the presumption strong. In all other cases, offenses are bailable.
(b) A person charged with murder has the burden of proof that he should be admitted to bail.
As added by Acts 1981, P.L.298, SEC.2.

In plain language, murder is not a bailable offense unless the defendant (after a special hearing) can satisfy the court that the prosecution is unlikely to secure a murder conviction at trial.  Needless to say, such scenarios are rare.

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Is Bail Bond Premium Negotiable in Indiana?

Jeff Downer  At Jeff Downer Bail Bonds the monies collected by a bail agent to post a surety bail bond is called premium and by law is eight percent of the total bond amount.  I am often asked when premium is to be paid if the amount and terms can be negotiated.

The answer is no.  The entire eight percent must be paid before the bail bond can be executed.  While other states do permit financing arrangements when paying premium, in Indiana not only are such arrangements not allowed, they constitute the commission of a felony per the section of Indiana code found below.

IC 27-10-4-5
Failure of bail agent to collect full premium
Sec. 5. A bail agent who knowingly or intentionally executes a bail bond without collecting in full a premium for the bail bond, at the premium rate as filed with and approved by the commissioner, commits a Class D felony.
As added by P.L.261-1985, SEC.1. Amended by P.L.224-1993, SEC.29.

More on the regulation of bail bond agents and companies listed in the Indiana Code may be found here.

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Bail Bonds Around the World

Jeff Downer  When I meet new people and they discover that I am a bail bondsman they often want to talk about some preconceived ideas they have about the bail bonds.  One such idea is that bail bonds are unique to the American criminal justice system.

Actually, the use of bail is employed around the world.  While in the United States the use of bail is credited to the American legal system being based in English legal tradition, the concept of bail can be found as far back as biblical and Roman historical accounts.  Given such a broad historical background it is not surprising that release on bail is common practice through out the world.

For those accustomed to the tenets of American legal system, running across accounts of bail being granted in other countries can be a jolting experience.  While defendants are receiving bail for familiar offenses involving violence and property, bail being granted for religious and freedom of speech based crimes can often be found as well.

Included here are some news accounts of bail being granted in various countries: India, Egypt, Nigeria, New Zealand, Burma (a.k.a. Myanmar) and Pakistan.

 

 

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Posted in Bail, Bail Bonds, International, Law, Legal. Tagged with .

Who Needs a Bail Bondsman?

Jeff Downer  Just because someone has been arrested does not mean a bail bondsman will be required to post bail.   Defendants may be released to await trial by a variety of means.  The terms and conditions of pretrial release is set by the court.

The form of pretrial release the court may choose from is as follows:

  • Own Recognizance (OR) – An OR release doe not require the posting of any type of bond.  The defendant is released on only on their promise to appear.
  • Cash Bond – The court sets an amount and requires the entire amount of the bond to be deposited directly with the court.
  • Ten Percent Deposit Bond – The court sets a bond amount and ten percent of that amount is deposited directly with with the court.
  • Surety Bond – Also known as commercial bail, the court sets a bond amount which may be posted by a bail bondsman.  The bondsman charges a fee of ten percent of the total bond amount to post the bond.

When seeking to post a a bond, a bail bondsman is only necessary when the court has specified surety or commercial bail.

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Posted in Bail Bonds, Bondsman, Cash Bond, Commercial Bail, Own Recognizance, Surety Bond. Tagged with .

Immigration Bonds

Jeff Downer  On occasion I receive inquiries about immigration bonds.  Immigration bonds are a different animal than bail bonds and not something we do here at Jeff Downer Bail Bonds.

For anyone with questions about immigration bonds I would recommend they start with this great article on the The Bail Blog: “Bail Bonds Versus Immigration Bonds” by Tonya Rynerson.

Ms. Rynerson outlines the differences between bail and immigration bonds and delves into immigration bond specific issues.  Check it out.  I hope you find it useful.

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What Is a Bounty Hunter?

Jeff Downer  When a person fails to appear for a court appearance, the court will issue a warrant and an order to produce the defendant for the bail bondsman.  In such situations the bail bondsman may employ what is commonly referred to as a “Bounty Hunter” to apprehend the fugitive defendant.

What is a bounty hunter?  It is a question that in the recent past the answer to has become distorted and obscured by “reality” television, self appointed unlicensed bounty hunters and the popular media.

The term bounty hunter refers to what in the bail bond industry are called fugitive recovery agents.  Here in Indiana (as in most states) recovery agents are licensed by the state after meeting professional education requirements and once licensed must participate in continuing education.

Under the direction of the bonding company, recovery agent will engage in locating and apprehending the fugitive.

The over the top dramatics and unprofessional demeanor that are aired on reality television and portrayed in the popular media is not is to be expected from Jeff Downer Bail Bonds.  Such shows and publications focus on the volatile personalities involved as opposed to the of professional and responsible minded efforts of most recovery agents.  In any case, Jeff Downer Bail Bonds would never consider breaching confidentiality by broadcasting our client related relationships and activities on television.

More information about the state of Indiana’s recovery agent licensing requirements may be found here.

 

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How Can A Bail Bond Be Revoked?

Jeff Downer  There are occasions when a bail bondsman is asked to revoke someone’s bail.  Well, a bondsman can’t.  Only the court can revoke a bail bond release.

That does not mean a bondsman cannot return the defendant to court and ask  the defendant be placed back into custody.  However, the court is only going to consider particular reasons for revoking a defendant’s bail.  These reasons are concerned with issues like attempting to flee, public safety and violations of pretrial release conditions imposed by court.

Perhaps the the best example of showing cause for bail revocation is an occasion when we received information that a defendant was preparing to flee and could be found at a local U Haul location renting a moving truck.  We apprehended the defendant at the U Haul and petitioned the court to revoke the bond.  The court took one look at the U Haul paperwork and revoked bail.

Requests to return the defendant to custody because the defendant failed to reimburse those who paid the bail bond, a personal relationship has ended or any other reasons not directly related to the defendant’s case are not going to be considered by the court.

If a person is considering bonding someone out, it should be understood that the defendant’s obligations while out on bond are to the court by appearing as ordered and following all other rules the court has put in place and not to the person who paid the bond.

 

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