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Arrest Authority of Bail Bond Agents

A bail bond, with sureties, is a contract between the government on the one side and the accused and his sureties on the other.  Under the contract the accused is released into the custody of the sureties on their monetary guarantee that such accused released from jail shall be present in court at the appointed time.

A bail bondsman is any person or corporation who acts as a surety and pledges money or property as bail for the appearance of a criminal defendant in court.  Bail bondsmen are licensed and regulated through the Department of Financial and Consumer Services.  They are also backed by insurance companies.  However, a professional bail bondsman can pledge his/her own assets and they do not need an insurance company’s backing.

Some states provide professional bondsmen licensing requirements.  Any person who makes a business of furnishing bail in criminal cases or who furnishes bail in five or more criminal cases in any one year, whether for compensation or otherwise, shall be deemed a professional bondsman and shall be subject to the provisions of the statute.  Any resident elector of the state of Connecticut who is of good moral character and of sound financial responsibility may, upon obtaining a license in accordance with the provisions, engage in the business of professional bondsmen within this state[i].

It is beneficial for the bondsman to perform his/her own pickups when his/her defendants fail to show up in court.  Contracting with a bounty hunter to locate and capture the skip can be risky.  Bail bondsmen have complete authority over their own defendants who fail to show up in court.  Unless, a bail bondsman has run out of leads in going after someone they normally pursue their own fugitives.

In the event of failure by the defendant to appear for trial on the date specified in the bail bond, the court shall issue a warrant for the defendant’s arrest for “jumping bail,” and the amount of the bond will be forfeited to the court.  The statutes authorize a bail agent to arrest the defendant and bring him/her back for criminal proceedings.

Here is an example of a state law dealing with the arrest of an accused by a surety or a bail bond agent:

Any person released on a deposit by a third person or an appearance bond secured by a surety, may be arrested by the depositor, surety, or his agent, and delivered to the custody of the Chief of Police.  The depositor or surety shall at the same time deliver a copy of his deposit receipt or bond to the Director who shall acknowledge such delivery by a certificate in writing.  The Chief of Police shall take custody of the person arrested and forthwith file the copy of the deposit receipt or bond and his certificate in the Court in which the action is pending and bring the depositor or surety exonerated, and shall, after notice to the prosecuting attorney, either release the person on such new conditions as are reasonably necessary to assure the person’s appearance as required or the safety of any other person and the community or detain the person until s/he has furnished the necessary security[ii].

A bail bond may be similarly used in cases of civil arrest to prevent a defendant from fleeing a jurisdiction to avoid litigation.  The possibility that the accused shall flee or hide must be squared with the traditional right to freedom pending trial.  In order to reconcile such conflicting interests the release on bail is conditioned upon providing reasonable assurance by the accused in one form or another that s/he will appear at a certain time to stand trial.

The bail bondsman’s right to arrest has been long established by a court decision in which it stated that the bondsman or bounty hunter could do any of the following: seize the fugitive and deliver him/her up in their discharge; pursue the fugitive to another state; arrest the fugitive on the Sabbath and could break into the house for that purpose[iii].

However, the bail bondsman’s authority to arrest a fugitive differs in each state.

[i] Conn. Gen. Stat. § 29-144.

[ii] 8 GCA § 40.45.

[iii] Taylor v. Taintor, 83 U.S. 366 (U.S. 1873).

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