Extortion is a crime and its happening right here in San Diego at our jails on a daily basis. Bail bonds are being posted for defendants without their authorization or even a request from a family member or a friend. Why would a reputable bail bond agency post a bail bond without collecting any premium (money to pay for the bond) or getting an Indemnity Agreement (contract) signed first? Certain bail bond agencies are trying to get an advantage over the rest of the agencies and the new game is post the bond and then extort the money (premium) out of the defendant. If the defendant refuses to pay the premium for the bond they’re surrendered (returned to the jail) like a fish being thrown back into the ocean. And after the defendant is surrendered to the jail they’re sent a bill for the bond plus recovery fees. It’s a double whammy. Everyone arrested wants to get out of jail but at what cost? Once the bail bond is posted you’re stuck with that agency even if you didn’t call them or request their services. So why isn’t this against the law? Give our legislators a little time and there will be a new law. Allison Ash with the I-Team at Channel 10 News just did a story about a woman arrested for a DUI and taken to the Vista Detention Facility. She called her friend to bail her out using another bail bond agency. When her Bail Agent went to post the bond he was told it was already posted by another agency. Unfortunately she was a victim of this new extortion game. The agency that posted the bond demanded payment of $265 for a $2,500 bond or they would surrender her back into custody and bill her the $265 for the bond. No one wants to be threatened with going back to jail if you don’t pay for the bond….but this bail bond agency did and she paid them the premium. The defendant was compelled to pay the premium or be surrendered back into custody which is extortion.
Deputy Sheriff Robert Taft from Orange County is on a mission to educate the public about the bail bond agencies surrendering defendants for nonpayment of premium. You have recourse with laws already on the books.
California Code of Regulations of the California Administrative Code Title 10, Chapter 5, Subchapter 1, Article 2, Section 2090:
Surrender of Arrestee to Custody: Return of Premiums – No bail licensee shall surrender an arrestee to custody prior to the time specified in the undertaking of bail or the bail bond for the appearance of the arrestee, or prior to any other occasion when the presence of the arrestee in court is lawfully required, without returning all premium paid for such undertaking or bond; except that when as the result of judicial action, information concealed or misrepresented by the arrestee or other reasonable cause, any one of which was material to the hazard assumed, and the licensee can show that the hazard was substantially increased, then the bail licensee may retain incurred out of pocket expenses permitted to be charged by Section 2081(c) and (d). The surrender of an arrestee who is again in custody for an offense for which a penalty greater than that for the original offense may not be imposed, or his surrender at the request of the guarantor shall never, in and of themselves, be considered to be reasonable cause for surrender, and in case of any surrender under such circumstances, and no actual and substantial increase in hazard can be shown by the licensee, all premiums received and incurred expenses shall be returned. Compliance with an Order of the Court made pursuant to Section 1300(b) of the Penal Code shall be in compliance with this Section; and a licensee at the time of any surrender of an arrestee prior to the time specified in the undertaking of bail shall inform such arrestee of his rights under Section 1300(b) to petition the Court for a ruling as to return of premium.
Failing to notify an arrestee of their rights under California Penal Code Section 1300(b) at the time of surrender is a violation of CCR Section 2090. California Insurance Code 1814 states:
The violation of any foregoing provision of this chapter, or of any rule of the commissioner made pursuant thereto, is a public offense, punishable by fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by imprisonment in the state prison, or in the county jail not exceeding one year, or both such fine and imprisonment.
If you were a victim of a bail bond agency extorting money from you for the premium and they returned you back into custody for failing to pay the premium which is UNJUSTIFIED you may be entitled to a refund of the all the premium you paid the bail bond agency. The bail bond agency cannot return a defendant back into custody (surrender) unless its justified. Examples of a justified surrender:
1. FTA – Fail to Appear in Court and a warrant is issued for your arrest
2. Flight Risk – Your Bail Agent has reason to believe you’re going to flee and not return to court
3. Defendant is back in custody. The Bail Agent can surrender your bond
How can you avoid the bail bond agencies willing to break the law to post a bond? Call a friend or loved one when you’re arrested and let them handle posting your bond. There’s no internet inside the jail cell. You can’t read customer reviews inside the jail cell. And you can only make a verbal agreement for a bail bond over the jail phone. Once the bond is posted you’re at the mercy of the bail bond agency that posted your bond. In many cases victims have reported the amount quoted to them was less than the amount they were charged once they were released from jail.
If you were a victim of a bail bond agency posting your bond without authorization and you were threatened to pay the premium or be returned to the jail the California Dept of Insurance needs to hear from you. Their complaint hotline number: (800) 927-4357