Category Archives: Indiana

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An English Lesson About Bail Bonds

Jeff Downer   Per the Oxford Dictionaries: skate (v)

  (skate through) make quick and easy progress through:he admits he had expected to skate through the system

 

Jeff Downer Bail Bonds - Everybody Skates


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Posted in Bail, Bail Bonds, Indiana, Indianapolis, Smiles.

Indiana Supreme Court Ruling Shifts Burden Of Proof for Bail in Murder Cases

Jeff Downer  In the past defendants charged with murder (or treason) in the State of Indiana would have to present a compelling argument that the proof of their guilt was not strong in order to be admitted to bail.

Recently (June of 2013) the Indiana Supreme Court rearranged the playing field when it came to how it is determined whether defendants charged with murder or treason can be held without bail.  The new case law is that the burden of proof now falls on the state to prove that the defendant should not be admitted to bail:

We hold today that when a defendant charged with murder or treason seeks bail, the burden is on the State, if it seeks to deny bail, to show—by a preponderance of the evidence—that the proof is evident or the presumption strong.

As a practical matter I do not believe much has changed on whether those charged with murder will be held without bond.  Prosecutors rarely pursue murder cases with a poor chance of conviction (nor should they).  The threshold of evidence to be held without bail has not changed.  In fact as part of the ruling the court upheld the original finding that the defendant should be held without bail.

The burden has just been shifted from defendant proving the state has a poor case to the state proving they have a solid one.  The most visible impact I suspect will be more bail hearings on murder cases as prosecutors seek denial of bail.

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Posted in Bail, Bail Bonds, Indiana, Law. Tagged with .

How to Become a Bail Bondsman

Jeff Downer   As a licensed Indiana bail agent I have received so many inquiries from people curious about the process of becoming a bail bondsman that I decided to provide a primer on how to go about it.

The first thing to know is that bail bondsmen in almost every state are regulated (usually by that state’s department of insurance) and exact requirements for securing a bail bondsman’s license will vary from state to state.  In this instance we are dealing only with Indiana’s licensing requirements.

Per the Indiana Department of Insurance (IDOI), obtaining an Indiana bail agent license requires a completed application form and the following

All applications must include:

  1. A recent digital full face photograph and your signature on the specimen sheet to be included on your license.  If you prefer, pictures can be taken in our office by appointment only.
  2. Certified fingerprint card from local law enforcement, or a receipt from L-1 Identify Solutions showing that you have been fingerprinted.
  3. Recent Credit Bureau Report (Free): http://www.annualcreditreport.com/
  4. Criminal History Check completed by Indiana State Police.
  5. Photo copies of other Professional Licenses that you hold.
  6. Application fee of $650 (check or money order).
  7. Completion Certificate for 12 credit hours of Pre-Licensing Education.
  8. Passing test results.

In addition there is is a $100 testing fee.

After these requirements are met (assuming no disqualifying conditions exist) and a contract with a licensed surety insurance provider is secured, the bail agent license will be issued.

Once a licensed is awarded it must be renewed every two years by completing continuing education requirements and paying a $650 renewal fee.

Here is the link to contact the IDOI for application forms and further information.

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Posted in Bail, Bondsman, Indiana. Tagged with , , , .

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.

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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.

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

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 ten 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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Posted in Bail Bonds, Business, Indiana, Law, Surety Bond. 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.  In Indiana the premium is set by law at ten 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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Posted in Bail, Bail Bonds, Indiana, Indianapolis, Law. Tagged with .

Is Bail Bond Premium Negotiable in Indiana?

Jeff Downer  In Indiana, the monies collected by a bail agent to post a surety bail bond is called premium and by law is 10 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 10 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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Posted in Bail, Bail Bonds, Indiana, Law, Legal. Tagged with , , , .

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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Posted in Bondsman, Bounty Hunter, Fugitive, Indiana, Recovery Agent. Tagged with .