Bail Bond Laws
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This is the California Bail Bonds state statute laws, including Los Angeles,
Riverside County, Orange County, San Bernardino County and San Diego
1. Applicable State Statutes.
1) Under IC 1800.6, cities and counties are free to enact further regulations
not in conflict with the IC sections cited above in A.
2. Licensing Requirements for Agents.
3. Notice of Forfeiture [PC 1305-1308].
Upon the court’s declaration of a forfeiture [PC 1305(a)(1)-(5)],
4. Allotted Time Between Forfeiture Declaration and Payment Due Date.
When the bond is forfeited and the period of time in PC 1305 has elapsed,
the court in question enters a summary judgement [PC 1306(a)] and the district
attorney or county counsel must demand immediate payment within 30 days
after the summary judgement becomes final [PC 1306(e)(1)]. The clerk of
the court must serve notice of the entry of judgment within five days of
the date of the judgment [PC 1308(b)].
5. Forfeiture Defenses.
The California Penal Code establishes a number of conditions under which
the forfeiture is set aside:
California has no remission period.
7. Bail Agent’s Arrest Authority.
California Penal code allows the agent to arrest the principal himself or empower another to do so. [PC 1301].
8. Other Noteworthy Provisions.
A bail agent’s license may also be held by a corporation [IC 1810(b)].
9. Noteworthy State Appellate Decisions.
After defendant failed to appear at his probation and sentencing hearing, the trial court continued the matter and ultimately ordered bail forfeited. Summary judgment was entered in favor of the People. The trial court denied the bail bond company's motion to vacate the summary judgment and to exonerate the bond. (Superior Court of Orange County, No. C-63343, Myron S. Brown, Judge.)
The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's order denying the motion
to vacate the summary judgment and exonerate the bond. The court held
that where, as in this case, there is no indication on the record that either
the defendant or defense counsel presented any information to the court
which could be said to constitute a sufficient basis to entertain a reasonable
belief that the defendant's nonappearance may have been with sufficient
excuse. Thus, it held that the failure of the trial court to declare
forfeiture of defendant's bail bond on the first day he neglected to appear
for his probation and sentencing hearing deprived it of jurisdiction to
later forfeit the bond, since there was nothing in the record to show that
the trial court had any reason to believe sufficient cause existed for his
failure to appear. (Opinion by Scoville, P.J. with Wallin and Sonenshine,
If upon the non-appearance of a defendant, the trial court continues a case without forfeiting bail, and the surety later brings a motion for relief from a subsequently entered forfeiture, the court may not consider evidence not part of the record from the first hearing to determine whether there was a rational basis for a sufficient excuse.
In criminal prosecution, the Superior Court, Santa Clara County, No. 191155,
Leonard B. Sprinkles, J., declared bail forfeited after defendant's second
failure to appear for sentencing. Surety's motion to vacate forfeiture
and exonerate bail was denied, and surety appealed. The Court of Appeal,
Mihara, J., held that: (1) trial court lacked jurisdiction to forfeit bail
bond upon defendant's second failure to appear, in absence of showing on
the record that court found sufficient excuse at time of first nonappearance
for defendant's absence; and (2) declaration submitted by district court
in opposing motion to vacate forfeiture, detailing an alleged in camera
discussion with judge at time of defendant's first nonappearance that allegedly
explained his absence, did not change result. Reversed.
The Court of Appeal affirmed. The court held that §Pen. Code, 1305, subd. (g), applies to defendants in foreign countries, but that it not triggered when extradition is not feasible. The term "elect" implies a choice of options, and the implication is that the prosecutor will have the option whether or not to seek extradition. Accordingly, the court held that the prosecution, having given evidence of Mexico's demonstrated reluctance to extradite its own nationals for nonheinous offenses, was not required to make a formal request for defendant's extradition from the Mexican government, and the trial court properly found that extradition was infeasible. (Opinion by Sonenshine, Acting P.J., with Rylaarsdam and Bedsworth, JJ., concurring.)
IV. When Is A Bailee Required to Appear in Court?
In a felony criminal prosecution, the trial court properly granted defendant’s surety’s motion to vacate the bail forfeiture ordered when defendant failed to appear at a hearing on a defense motion to continue the trial. The trial court lost jurisdiction when it failed to forfeit the bail bond two days earlier on the occasion of defendant’s failure to appear at the master trial calendar hearing and so it was without jurisdiction to order the forfeiture two days later. Pen. Code, 1305, requires a defendant’s presence at "trial," which includes the date set for the appearance in the master trial calendar department. If the court fails to declare forfeiture at that time, it loses jurisdiction and the bond is exonerated by operation of law. Even though defendant had executed a Pen. Code, 977, waiver, which allows a felony defendant to be absent on specific occasions, Pen. Code, 1305, which governs forfeiture procedure, was the more specific statute and thus it took precedence. When there is a conflict between a general and a special law, the special law must control.
[See 4 Witkin & Epstein, Cal. Criminal Law (2d ed. 1989) 2023 et seq.]
(2) Bail and Recognizance §9 -- Forfeiture of Bond or Deposit. The
forfeiture or exoneration of bail is entirely a statutory procedure, and
forfeiture proceedings are governed entirely by the special statutes applicable
thereto (Pen. Code, 1305-1309). Because the law abhors forfeitures, these
statutes are to be strictly construed in favor of the surety.
Surety filed motion to vacate forfeiture of, reinstate and exonerate bail
bond. The Superior Court, Sonoma County, No. 16737, R. Bryan Jamar, J.,
granted summary judgment on forfeiture, and denied surety’s motion
to set aside summary judgment and exonerate bail. Surety Appealed. The Court
of Appeal, Merrill, J., held that: (1) trial court was without jurisdiction
to do anything other than enter summary judgment of forfeiture following
expiration of 180-days period for seeking relief from forfeiture, absent
tolling of 180-days period, and (2) trial court’s failure to enter
summary judgment forfeiting bail within 90 days after lapse of 180-day period
for seeking relief from forfeiture meant that its jurisdiction to enter
summary judgment had expired and bail was exonerated. Reversed.
After receiving notice of summary judgment of forfeiture, surety on bail bond moved to discharge forfeiture, set aside judgment, and exonerate bail, based on procedural irregularities in giving of notice. The Superior Court, Santa Clara County, No. 172001, John A. Flaherty, J., denied motion. Surety appealed The Court of Appeal, Wunderlich, J., held that: (1) notice of original forfeiture forwarded to surety by defunct general agent to whom it was mailed achieved statutory goal of actual notice; (2) order, naming wrong surety, that surety reassume its obligations under reinstated bond was ineffective; and (3) even if reassumption had been effective, notice to address known to be incorrect was ineffective. Reversed.
Surety which had posted bail for defendant who was arrested on drug charges, and who was unable to appear for preliminary hearing due to his deportation by Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), moved to vacate forfeiture and exonerate bail. The Superior Court, Ventura County, Nos. CR44361, 187541, John J. Hunter, J., denied motion. Surety appealed. The Court of Appeal, Yegan, J., held that defendant’s deportation rendered him unable to appear due to "detention" by civil authorities, and thus operated under statute to exonerate bail. Reversed.
10. Bounty Hunter Provisions.
In September 1999, California enacted a law (A 243) regulating bounty hunters,
termed "bail fugitive recovery persons" in the statute. This law
added section 1299 to the California Penal Code. The bail fugitive recovery
person is defined as one who has "written authorization" by a
bail agent, surety, etc., (under PC 1300 and 1301) and is contracted to
investigate, surveil, locate, and arrest a bail fugitive for surrender to
appropriate authorities, or any person employed to assist in the arrest
of such a fugitive.
TOUGHER BAIL LAWS ARE NEEDED TO HELP FIGHT CRIME
1. Conflict with fundamental human rights
Refuse bail simply because an accused "has been charged with a certain category of crime conflicts with human rights". The minister of justice proposed that for certain very serious crimes, it should be made very difficult, if not impossible, for the accused to get bail. I believe this should apply to crimes like first degree murder, aggravated sexual assaults and robbery, serious drug offences, and use of firearm during an offence. This can be done while retaining some discretion for the courts to prevent abuse. The amendment to the law should not entail an absolute denial of bail.
2. Possible abuse for political reasons. It's wrong to suggest that an amended bail law can be misused to keep political opponents in gaol. The courts should still have some discretion, and it is very likely that they will use it to prevent abuse by the government. In any event, it is extremely unlikely that offences such as treason, sedition or political violence will be included in the new law as he suggests.
But more fundamentally, changing the bail law does not affect the fundamental principle of habeas corpus. Anyone can still challenge the validity of the arrest itself and the court can order their release if the government did not have good reason for their arrest.
3.The problems in the justice system. More substantially Schönteich argues that bail is given incorrectly "because of a poorly paid, poorly trained, and over-extended prosecution and police service". He suggests the real answer is "an overhaul of the criminal justice system and prioritising resources" rather than changing the law.
I agree with much of this analysis, except perhaps to add that the new rights dispensation has added to the workload because cases now have to be investigated and prosecuted properly - extensive reliance on coerced confessions and guilty pleas is no longer possible.
There are just too few prosecutors and detectives to deal with longer and more complicated cases, and they often do not have the necessary experience and training.
The government is indeed busy with an urgent "overhaul" of the
system to tackle all these problems (and more):
But these problems cannot be solved overnight. They require huge amounts of money at a time of tough budget constraints. Anyway, to train good prosecutors and detectives, and to implement computer based systems take time.
The real, and difficult, question is whether the government must act to
solve the problems with bail - it cannot wait until the overhaul of the
system bears fruit.
The courts are independent and the government should not tell them how to interpret the law. But it is legitimate for Parliament to write the law in a way that makes our intention clear - namely that for very serious offences it must be very difficult to get bail.
We believe very strongly that we must get the balance between human rights and the need to fight crime correct - if we fail to do so, there is a real possibility that our hard-won rights will be swept away in a wave of anticrime hysteria.
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