Bail Bond Agent Business Practices

4/23/2013

Bail Bond Agent Business PracticesState law provides regulations for how bail agents conduct their business. As part of executing a bond on behalf of defendants, bail agents advertise their services, meet with their clients in jails, police stations, courts and other offices and interact with members of law enforcement, court personnel and other public officials. For each of these activities, state lawmakers have put legal guidelines in place.

Premium Rates

The premium is a fee that a bail agent charges a defendant in order to execute a bond. While the premium is the primary payment made by a defendant to a bail agent, states also allow for other money to be collected for collateral, or to pay fees or other costs. For example, Mississippi law allows bail agents to charge defendants for fees related to “court-approved electronic monitoring or drug testing.” Many states that enable the commercial bond practice vest the power to determine rates for premiums in insurers and the regulatory bodies that oversee them. For example, in Arizona premium rates are established by a surety insurer and approved by the director of insurance. At least 16 states have specific percentages or dollar amounts specified in statute for bond premiums.   

Other state regulations on premiums are aimed at ensuring that defendants released on cash bond pay some sum of money to a bail agent before they are released, rather than enabling 100 percent of the sum to be financed. In Florida, for example, it is unlawful to execute a bail bond without charging a premium and in Indiana bail agents must collect a full premium for the bail bond as specified by the state’s commissioner of insurance. Maryland law expressly authorizes bail agents to collect their premiums in installment payments.  

Prohibited Location

To manage how bail agents can pursue new clients, states also regulate locations where they can solicit in person. Courts, police stations and jails are commonly prohibited locations. General exceptions to these laws include if a bail agent is called to the location by a new client, or is on the premises to conduct business or some other legitimate task with an existing client. For example, in Virginia a bail agent cannot “loiter by any jail or magistrate’s office unless there on legitimate business.”  

Prohibited Activity

State law often aims at preventing bail agents from gaining a business advantage through improper relationships with government employees or other professionals. These laws vary in structure. Some prevent jailers, police officers or other officials from suggesting the services of a particular bail agent to a defendant. Others prevent a bail agent from giving financial incentives to these professionals and still more prevent any arrangements where an official gives a bail agent information about a defendant’s status. Sixteen states prohibit bail agents from suggesting the professional services of another person to a defendant, with attorneys being the position most commonly mentioned. In addition, 17 states do not allow bail agents to act as an attorney, give legal advice, or participate in any legal capacity for their client at their client’s trial. 

Regulation on Advertisements

Print advertising by bail agents is also subject to state regulation. The most common prohibition in statute prevents bail agents from advertising as surety insurance companies. Other standards focus on clarity in advertisement, such as prominently displaying the name of the bail agency, mandating specific contact information and preventing the inclusion of words deemed to be deceptive.

This chart provides more information on state statutory regulations of bail agent business practices.

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Bail Bond Agent Business Practices
State and Statute Premium Rates Locations Where Soliciting Business Is Prohibited Prohibited Activity Regulation on Advertisements
Offering Legal Advice Suggesting
Business
Arrangements
Arrangements
With Public
Officials
Alabama
No statute located
           
Alaska
No statute located
           
Arizona
§ 20-340.03
  Any place where prisoners are confined; any court.   X X May not advertise as a surety company.
Arkansas
§ 17-19-301
 


§ 17-19-105
 
 
 
 



§ 17-19-109
$50 or 10% rounded up to the nearest $5, whichever is greater.   X      
  Any place where prisoners are confined, police stations, jails, or sheriff's office; any court.   X X  
          Advertisements by professional bail bond companies must make apparent the company name. Any advertisement for an individual professional bail bondsmen must include bail bond company name and no indication that the individual is independent of the company.
California
 No statute located
           
Colorado
§ 10-23-109
$50 or 15%, whichever is greater.    
 
     
Connecticut
§ 29-151
 
 
 


§ 29-152b
No more than: $50 on amounts below $500; 10% on amounts $500 to $5000; 7% on amounts above $5000.   X X   Print advertising in enumerated facilities can be telephone directory listings and postings of the professional bondsman's contact information in a prominent designated location, with enumerated prohibitions for clarity.
  Correctional institutions, community correctional centers, detention facilities; any court.        
Delaware
18 Del.C. § 4350
  Any place where prisoners are confined; any court. X X X A bail agent shall not advertise as a surety insurance company.
Florida
§ 648.33
 




§ 648.44
  A jail, prison, or other place where prisoners are confined; any court.  
 
   
 
 
Print advertising in jails is limited to a telephone directory listing and the posting of the bail bond agent's or agency's contact information in a designated location.
    X X   No bail bond agency shall advertise as a bail bond or surety company. Enumerated advertising requirements and prohibitions against false advertisement or deceptive trade practice.
Georgia
§ 17-6-30;
 
 

§ 17-6-53
 
 



§ 17-6-50
 
§ 17-6-51
 
§ 17-6-52
No more than: 12% on amounts below $10,000; 15% on amounts above $10,000.          
  Jails, places where prisoners are confined; any court.        
    X      
      X    
        X  
Hawaii
§ 804-62
Between 5% and 15%; Minimum $50          
Idaho
No statute located
           
Illinois  No Commercial Bondsmen
Indiana
§ 27-10-4-2
  Any place where prisoners are confined; any court. X X X  
Iowa
No statute located
           
Kansas
No statute located
           
Kentucky   No Commercial Bondsmen
Louisiana
§ 22:1443
 

§ 22:1556
$120 or 12% , whichever is greater.          
        X  
Maine
No statute located
           
Maryland Criminal Procedure§ 5-210    Correctional facility; any court.     X  
Massachusetts
No statute located
           
Michigan
No statute located
           
Minnesota
No statute located
           
Mississippi
§ 83-39-25
 
 
 
§ 83-39-27
$100 or 10%, whichever is greater; $100 or 15% for capital offense charges or out of state residency.          
    X X X  
Missouri
§ 374.717
 

§374.755
        X  
    X      
Montana
No statute located
           
Nebraska
No statute located
           
Nevada
§ 697.300
 

§ 697.340
 
$50 or 15%, whichever is greater.          
  Any place where prisoners are confined; any court. X X X A bail agent, bail enforcement agent, bail solicitor or general agent may not advertise as a surety insurance company.
New Hampshire
No statute located
           
New Jersey
No statute located
           
New Mexico
§ 59A-51-13
    X X X No bail bond agency may advertise as a surety insurer.
New York
McKinney's Insurance Law § 6804
$10 for amounts below $200. No more than 10% on amounts below $3,000. For amounts above $3,000, no more than 10% for first $3,000, 8% on additional amounts below $10,000, and 6% on excess amounts.          
North Carolina
§ 58-71-95
No more than 15%. Any court or the office of any magistrate; any place where prisoners are confined. X   X  
North Dakota
§ 26.1-26.6-08
 
§ 26.1-26.6-05
$75 or 10%, whichever is greater.          
  Any place where prisoners or persons are confined, arraigned, or in custody.   X
 
X A bail bond agent or bail bond agency may not advertise as a surety company.
Ohio
§ 3905.901
 
  
§ 3905.932
 

§ 3905.934
 
No less than 6.5% of outstanding bail bond premiums. Detention facilities; any court.       Print advertising in a detention facility is limited to a telephone directory listing and the posting of the surety bail bond agent's contact information in a designated location.
    X X X  
          A surety bail bond agent must not engage in false advertisement or deceptive trade practice. All advertisements must include the address of record of the agent on file with the department of insurance.
Oklahoma
59 Okl.St.Ann. §1310
  Any place where prisoners are confined, arraigned, or in custody. X X X No bail bondsman or bail bond agency may advertise as a surety company.
Oregon   No Commercial Bondsmen
Pennsylvania
42 Pa.C.S.A. § 5748
 
 


42 Pa.C.S.A. § 5749
No more than 10% on amounts below $100 and 5% for each additional $100.          
  Any court or tribunal.     X  
Rhode Island
No statute located
           
South Carolina
§ 38-53-170
$25 or 15%, whichever is greater. Any court or the office of any magistrate; any place where prisoners are confined. X   X  
South Dakota
§ 58-22-35
 


§ 58-22-32
 

§ 58-22-36
 

§ 58-22-34
  Any place where prisoners are confined.        
    X      
      X    
        X  
Tennessee
§ 40-11-316
 

§ 40-11-310
 
§ 40-11-309
No more than 10%.          
    X   X  
        X  
Texas
Occupations Code § 1704.304
 









Occupations Code § 1704.303
 
 
 
Occupations Code
§ 1704.302
 

A police station, jail, prison, detention facility, or other place of detainment for persons in the custody of law enforcement.

 

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements must clearly indicate the county or counties in which the person holds a license and the telephone number shown must be for that or those counties only.
 

 

 

 

X

 
Utah
No statute located
           
Vermont
No statute located
           
Virginia
§ 9.1-185.8
 

§ 9.1-185.9
 
No more than 10%, no less than 15%.   X  
X
 
 
 
  Any court, jail, lock-up, or surrounding government property.   X    
Washington
No statute located
           
West Virginia
§ 51-10-7
 
 
 
 







§ 51-10-3
§ 51-10-4
  A police precinct, jail, prisoner's dock, house of detention, justice of the peace court, or other place where persons in the custody of the law are detained.     X  
        X  
        X  
Wisconsin No Commercial Bondsmen
Wyoming
No statute located
           

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures, 2013
Westlaw was used to conduct this research.

Court rule is not included in this chart unless a statute authorizes or is superseded by the rules and case law is not included.

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Full text of statutes can be retrieved using NCSL’s State Legislatures Internet Links database. 

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