1 Applicable Statutes.
2. Licensing Requirements for Agents.
· persons who hold themselves out as signers or sureties of bonds for compensation are declared to be professional bondsmen.
· one who holds himself or herself out as a signer or surety of bonds for compensation who must meet the following qualifications:
(1) Is 18 years of age or over;
(2) Is a resident of
the State of
(3) Is a person of good moral character and has not been convicted of a felony or any crime involving moral turpitude; and
(4) Is approved by the sheriff and remains in good standing with respect to all applicable federal, state, and local laws and all rules and regulations established by the sheriff in the county where the bonding business is conducted.
· the term "bail recovery agent" means any person who performs services or takes action for the purpose of:
· apprehending the principal on a bail bond granted in this state or,
· capturing a fugitive who has escaped from bail in this state for gratuity, benefit, or compensation.
· Any sheriff of a county shall require any professional bondsman who is a resident of or doing business in the sheriff's county to register his or her bail recovery agents in that county.
bail recovery agent must be a
(1) Any person under 21 years of age;
(2) Any person who is a fugitive from justice or against whom proceedings are pending for any felony, forcible misdemeanor, or violation of Code Section 16-11-126, 16-11-127, or 16-11-128 until such time as the proceedings are adjudicated;
(3) Any person who has been convicted of a felony by a court of this state or any other state; by a court of the United States including its territories, possessions, and dominions; or by a court of any foreign nation and has not been pardoned for such felony.
(4) Any individual who has been hospitalized as an inpatient in any mental hospital or alcohol or drug treatment center within five years of the date of his application; or
(5) (A) Any person, the provisions of paragraph (3) of this subsection notwithstanding, who has been convicted of an offense arising out of the unlawful manufacture, distribution, possession, or use of a controlled substance or other dangerous drug.
3. Notice of Forfeiture
· A bond forfeiture occurs at the end of the court day, upon the failure of a principal to appear, of any bond given for the appearance of that person.
· An appearance bond shall not be forfeited unless the clerk of the court gave the surety at least 72 hours' written notice, exclusive of Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays, before the time of the required appearance of the principal. Notice shall not be necessary if the time for appearance is within 72 hours from the time of arrest, provided the time for appearance is stated on the bond, or where the principal is given actual notice in open court.
4. Allotted Time between Forfeiture Declaration and Payment Due Date.
(See above, second paragraph)
5. Forfeiture Defenses.
· it is shown that the principal on the bond was prevented from attending because he or she was detained by reason of arrest, sentence, or confinement in a penal institution or jail in the State of Georgia, or so detained in another jurisdiction,
· or because he or she was involuntarily confined or detained pursuant to court order in a mental institution in the State of Georgia or in another jurisdiction. (An official written notice of the holding institution in which the principal is being detained or confined shall be considered proof of the principal's detention or confinement and such notice may be sent from the holding institution by mail or delivered by hand or by facsimile machine).
· if it is shown that prior to the entry of the judgment on the forfeiture the principal on the bond is in the custody of the sheriff or other responsible law enforcement agency.
· (An official written notice of the holding institution in which the principal is being detained or confined shall be considered proof of the principal's detention or confinement and such notice may be sent from the holding institution by mail or delivered by hand or by facsimile machine).
· Provided the bond amount has been paid within 120 days after judgment and the delay has not prevented prosecution of the principal and upon application to the court with prior notice to the prosecuting attorney of such application, said court shall direct remission of 95 percent of the bond amount remitted to the surety if:
· apprehends, surrenders, or produces the principal, if the apprehension or surrender of the principal was substantially procured or caused by the surety, or,
· if the location of the principal by the surety caused the adjudication of the principal in the jurisdiction in which the bond was made.
· If any of the above occurs within two years of the principal's failure to appear, the surety shall be entitled to a refund of 50 percent of the bond amount. The application for 50 percent remission shall be filed no later than 30 days following the expiration of the two-year period following the date of judgment.
· Remission shall be granted upon condition of the payment of court costs and of the expenses of returning the principal to the jurisdiction by the surety; or
B. 1976 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U76-28. No refund where principal surrendered after forfeiture. -- This section provides for the relief of a bondsman from liability prior to the time that he pays the forfeiture to the county. After payment to the county of a final judgment on an appearance bond forfeiture, the bondsman is not entitled to a refund of the forfeiture even though he later surrenders the principal to county authorities.
C. Timing requirements for filing are the same as those under #5(B) above.
7. Bail Agent’s Arrest Authority.
Agent’s arrest authority is implied in -- CODE OF GEORGIA TITLE 17. CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
CHAPTER 6. BONDS AND RECOGNIZANCES ARTICLE 2. SURETIES PART 2. PROFESSIONAL
8. Other Noteworthy Provisions.
(j) For all persons who have been authorized by law or the court to be released on bail, sheriffs and constables shall accept such bail; provided, however, that the sureties tendered and offered on the bond are approved by the sheriff of the county in which the offense was committed.
· 17-6-52 Establishes that professional bondsmen, their agents, or employees shall not solicit business as bondsmen or loiter about or around jails, places where prisoners are confined, or the courts for the purpose of engaging in or soliciting business as such bondsmen.
· In addition, no state or municipal law enforcement officer or keeper or employee of a penal institution may suggest or give advice to any prisoner regarding the services of a professional bondsman to write a criminal bond for the appearance of a prisoner in any court at any time.
· 17-6-57 Provides extensive notification and registration provisions for out-of-state Bail Recovery Agents with local law enforcement.
· 17-6-58 Sets forth the penalties for violation of the above section, both for bail recovery agents individually, and for bond companies who employ them.
· Further more, subsection (c) establishes that no bail recovery agent shall wear, carry, or display any uniform, badge, shield, card, or other item with any printing, insignia, or emblem that purports to indicate that such bail recovery agent is an employee, officer, or agent of any state or federal government or any political subdivision of any state or federal government. A violation of this subsection shall be punished upon conviction as a felony punishable by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years, or a fine of not more than $10,000.00, or both.
· Sureties on criminal bonds in any court shall not charge or receive more than 12 percent of the principal amount of bonds set in the amount of $10,000.00 or less and shall not charge or receive more than 15 percent of the principal amount of bonds set in an amount in excess of $10,000.00 as compensation from defendants or from anyone acting for defendants.
· Any person who violates subsection (a) of this Code section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
9. Noteworthy State Appellate Decisions.
Epperson was arrested in May 1983 and indicted on charges of trafficking in
cocaine. In June 1983 Epperson as principal and appellant American Druggists'
Insurance Co. as surety executed an appearance bond for $225,000. Epperson
failed to appear when his trial was called. The following March 23 a judgment
was entered against the surety and Epperson as principal, forfeiting the bond.
Epperson was subsequently arrested in
· The court holds that after a Final Judgment has been entered against the surety in a Bond Forfeiture Hearing and the Judgment has been satisfied by the payment of funds, the surety has no standing either in law or equity to reclaim any portion of the funds paid over to satisfy the Judgment.
v. The STATE.No.
Court of Appeals
· Bennett was a bail recovery agent for a bondsman and was asked to apprehend Charles Brannon after Brannon failed to appear for trial on several traffic offenses. In effecting Brannon's apprehension, appellant went to the Brannon home where he fired a shot in the backyard, kicked in the front door when Brannon ran inside, and beat Brannon on the head and face with a pistol.
· Bennett contended the trial court erred by charging the jury that if a bondsman or his agent uses deadly force in seizing an arrestee, "then, such constitutes an illegal arrest, or illegal seizure." Bennett argues that a bondsman or his agent who apprehends a principal on the bond is not making an arrest and thus, if he uses unreasonable force it does not constitute an "illegal arrest" or an "illegal seizure."
court disagrees. The court notes that
· As to the amount of force a bail bondsman or his agent may use in arresting his principal, the court finds no state or federal cases dealing with this specific issue and, therefore, looks to the rules relating to arrest by law enforcement officers since a bail bondsman, should have no greater right to the use of force than a law enforcement officer can use in making an arrest.
of notice to surety. -- Where the record shows on its face noncompliance with
statutory service and notice requirements, the proceedings and resultant
judgment must be set aside. Osborne Bonding Co. v. State, 163
judgment not set aside upon surrender of principal and payment of costs. --
Section 17-6-31 and this section, while making it mandatory upon the court,
after rendering final judgment of forfeiture of a criminal bond, to relieve the
surety from liability thereunder upon his
surrendering the principal into court and paying all costs, do not authorize in
such a case the setting aside of such final judgment, and motion praying only
that such judgment be set aside because the principal had been surrendered into
court and costs paid, is properly dismissed on demurrer. Fields v. Arnall, 199
the surety gives assistance to police officials which
contributes to the arrest of the fugitive defendant and initiates action to
surrender the defendant to the superior court, the surety should be relieved of
the penalty on forfeiture of the bond. Troup Bonding Co. v. State, 121
to surrender principal must be expressed and understood. -- Producing or presenting
a principal in court is not all that is required to discharge the obligation
and relieve securities from their liability under a criminal bond. In order for
a surrender of the principal in open court to be effective, the attention of
the court must be called to the presence of the defendant principal, and the
intention to surrender him must be definitely expressed and understood. Perkins
v. Terrell, 1
10. Bounty Hunter Provisions.
Bounty Hunters are termed
"Bail Recovery Agents" in