Category Archives: Bail Bonds
Commercial bail bond related
Jeff Downer When a court finds that the obligations of a bail bond are discharged and liability on the bond is released, it is called exoneration. Simply speaking, exoneration means the bail bond is no longer in effect.
In the vast majority of cases, exoneration occurs when the case is disposed of by the court. Case dispositions take the following forms:
- Finding of not guilty
- Enrollment into a diversion program
- Dismissal of all charges
There may instances of a bail bond being exonerated prior to disposition because the defendant has become a flight risk or violated conditions of release. Per Indiana Code here are the steps a bail bondsman must take to return a defendant to custody and request the court for exoneration:
Surrender of defendants; detention; exoneration of sureties
Sec. 6. (a) The person desiring to make a surrender of the defendant shall be provided a certified copy of the undertakings and a certified copy of the arrest warrant forthwith by the clerk of the court having jurisdiction and shall deliver them together with the defendant to the official in whose custody the defendant was at the time bail was taken or to the official into whose custody the defendant would have been given if committed, who shall detain the defendant in the official’s custody thereon, as upon a commitment, and shall acknowledge the surrender in a written certificate.
(b) The court having jurisdiction of the offense shall order that a surety be exonerated from liability for an undertaking and that any money or bonds deposited as bail be refunded when the person surrendering the defendant has:
(1) presented to the court both of the documents described in subsection (a); and
(2) given to the prosecuting attorney:
(A) three (3) days notice; and
(B) copies of both of the documents described in subsection (a).
As added by P.L.261-1985, SEC.1. Amended by P.L.348-1995, SEC.2.
Bear in mind that exoneration is not the same thing as a bail bond expiring after certain period of time. In situations where cases are slow moving, a bond set to expire can be renewed and the defendant allowed to remain free. Find here an explanation of bail bond expiration.
Jeff Downer When a judge determines the amount of a bail bond they often impose other conditions of release. Such conditions can, among many things, include:
- Electronic monitoring
- Drug and alcohol testing
- Substance abuse counseling
- No contact orders
Violating these conditions can and will result in the the revocation of bond and awaiting trial in jail.
Consider this incident reported in the American Bar Association Journal during a bond hearing in suburban Chicago. It seems the defendant had violated the court ordered curfew by 22 minutes. The judge increased the defendant’s bond from $2,000 to $75,000. While protesting the judge’s decision the defense attorney was found to be in contempt, eventually being held in custody and fined $1,000.
Many judges don’t play around and in this instance a seemingly innocuous case of poor time management snowballed into some major courtroom drama. The moral of this story? If you want the the judge to like you (or you want the judge to like your lawyer), read and follow directions.
Jeff Downer There has been a widespread scam involving the posting of bail bonds overseas that I would like to alert folks about, particularly grandparents. This scam is not new but it doesn’t seem to be going away so I thought it is worth making sure folks were aware of it.
The premise of the scam is straightforward:
- A grandparent receives a call from someone pretending to be a grandchild and/or a person acting on their behalf.
- A false story is spun about the grandchild traveling to another country (usually Latin America), being arrested and needing bail money wired overseas.
- That time is of the essence is emphasized to create a sense of frenzied urgency.
- The grandparents are also urged not to contact the grandchild’s parents to avoid further family drama.
The steps to defeat the scammers are just common sense and easy to implement:
- Don’t get flustered. Take some time to think the situation over.
- Ask specific questions when contacted to verify that it is indeed the grandchild in question
- Try to call or contact the grandchild directly as well as other family members to determine what the true situation is.
- Ask law enforcement to verify the story.
Finally, the FBI has issued a bulletin describing the scam and outlining what to do when contacted by potential scammers and what actions to take if you are already a victim.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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
(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:
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.