A. WEST'S ANNOTATED MISSISSIPPI CODE TITLE 83. INSURANCE CHAPTER 39. BAIL BONDS AND BONDSMEN.
B. WEST'S ANNOTATED MISSISSIPPI CODE TITLE 99. CRIMINAL PROCEDURE CHAPTER 5. BAIL.
II. Licensing Requirements for Agents
Mississippi’s statutes contain extensive licensing provisions for bail agents.
A. WEST'S ANNOTATED MISSISSIPPI CODE TITLE 83. INSURANCE CHAPTER 39. BAIL BONDS AND BONDSMEN § 83-39-1. Definitions
1. "Department" means the Department of Insurance.
2. "Commissioner" means the Commissioner of Insurance.
3. "Insurer" means any domestic or foreign insurance corporation or association engaged in the business of insurance or suretyship which has qualified to transact surety or casualty business in this state.
4. "Professional bail agent" means any individual who shall furnish bail, acting as a licensed personal surety agent or as a licensed limited surety agent representing an insurer as defined by this chapter.The above definition shall not include, and this chapter does not apply to, any individual who acts as personal surety in instances where there is no compensation charged or received for such service.
5. "Soliciting bail agent" means any person who is appointed by a professional bail agent to execute or countersign bail bonds in connection with judicial proceedings and who is duly licensed by the commissioner to represent such professional bail agent, as an agent or employee of a professional bail agent, or as an independent contractor, for compensation or otherwise, shall solicit, advertise or actively seek bail bond business for or in behalf of a professional bail agent.
6. "Bail enforcement agent" means a person who assists the professional bail agent in presenting the defendant in court when required, or who assists in the apprehension and surrender of the defendant to the court or who keeps the defendant under necessary surveillance. Nothing herein shall affect the right of professional bail agents to have counsel or to ask assistance of law enforcement officers.
7. "Limited surety agent" means any individual who is appointed by an insurer by power of attorney to execute or countersign bail bonds in connection with judicial proceedings, and who is duly licensed by the commissioner to represent such insurer for the restricted lines of bail, fidelity and surety, after successfully completing a limited examination by the department for the restricted lines of business.
8. "Personal surety agent" means any individual who, having posted the necessary qualification bond with the commissioner as required by Section 83-39-7, and duly licensed by the commissioner, may execute and sign bail bonds in connection with judicial proceedings. All new personal surety agents licensed after July 1, 1994, shall complete successfully a limited examination by the department for the restricted lines of business.
B. § 83-39-3. License required; prelicensing and continuing education
1. No person shall act in the capacity of professional bail agent, soliciting bail agent or bail enforcement agent, as defined in Section 83-39-1, or perform any of the functions, duties or powers of the same unless that person shall be qualified and licensed as provided in this chapter. The terms of this chapter shall not apply to any automobile club or association, financial institution, insurance company or other organization or association or their employees who execute bail bonds on violations arising out of the use of a motor vehicle by their members, policyholders or borrowers when bail bond is not the principal benefit of membership, the policy of insurance or of a loan to such member, policyholder or borrower.
2. No license shall be issued except in compliance with this chapter, and none shall be issued except to an individual. No firm, partnership, association or corporation, as such, shall be so licensed. No professional bail agent shall operate under more than one (1) trade name. A soliciting bail agent and bail enforcement agent shall operate only under the professional bail agent's name. No person who has ever been convicted of a felony or any crime involving moral turpitude, or who has not been a resident of this state for at least one (1) year, unless presently licensed for bail bonds, or who is under twenty-one (21) years of age, shall be issued a license hereunder. No person engaged as a law enforcement or judicial official or attorney shall be licensed hereunder. No person licensed under this chapter shall act as a personal surety agent in the writing of bail during a period he or she is licensed as a limited surety agent, as defined herein.
3. Each license issued hereunder shall expire annually on the last day of May, unless revoked or suspended prior thereto by the department, or upon notice served upon the commissioner by the insurer that the authority of a limited surety agent to act for or in behalf of such insurer had been terminated, or upon notice served upon the commissioner by a professional bail agent that the employment of a soliciting bail agent or bail enforcement agent had been terminated by such professional bail agent.
4. The commissioner, after a hearing under Section 83-39-17, may refuse to issue a privilege license for a soliciting bail agent to change from one (1) professional bail agent to another if he owes any premium or debt to the professional bail agent with whom he is currently licensed.
5. From and after May 1, 2000, prior to the issuance of any professional bail agent, soliciting bail agent or bail enforcement agent license, the applicant shall submit proof of completion of eight (8) hours of prelicensing education approved by the department and the Professional Bail Agents Association of Mississippi, Inc., and conducted by the Mississippi Judicial College or any institution of higher learning or community college. An applicant may work as an agent without the prelicensing education requirement but must complete such education at the first available offering.
6. From and after May 1, 2000, prior to the renewal of any professional bail agent, soliciting bail agent or bail enforcement agent license, the applicant shall submit proof of completion of eight (8) hours of continuing education approved by the department and the Professional Bail Agents Association of Mississippi, Inc., and provided by the Mississippi Judicial College or any institution of higher learning or community college.
C. See § 83-39-5 for information to be included on a License application.
D. § 83-39-9. License issuance
1. The department upon receipt of the license application, the required fee, and proof of good moral character and, in the case of a professional bail agent, an approved qualification bond in the required amount, shall issue to the applicant a license to do business as a professional bail agent, soliciting bail agent or bail enforcement agent as the case may be.
2. No licensed professional bail agent shall have in his employ in the bail bond business any person who could not qualify for a license under this chapter, nor shall any licensed professional bail agent have as a partner or associate in such business any person who could not so qualify.
E. See § 83-39-11 for License fees.
F. For denials, suspensions, etc. of licenses and procedures for the appeal of such see:
1. § 83-39-15. Denial, suspension, nonrenewal and revocation of license.
2. § 83-39-17. Notice and hearing.
3. § 83-39-19. Appeals; procedures;
4. § 83-39-21. Judicial proceeding to terminate license
5. § 83-39-27. Unlawful activities
6. § 83-39-29. Criminal penalties
III. Notice of Forfeiture
WEST'S ANNOTATED MISSISSIPPI CODE TITLE 99. CRIMINAL PROCEDURE CHAPTER 5. BAIL § 99-5-25. Forfeiture of bail bonds; procedures
If a defendant, prosecutor, or witness in any criminal case, proceeding, or matter, fails to appear for any proceeding as ordered by the court, then the court shall order the bail forfeited and a bench warrant issued at the time of nonappearance. The purpose of bail is to guarantee appearance and bail shall not be forfeited for any other reason. Upon declaration of such forfeiture, the court shall issue a judgment nisi. The clerk of the court shall notify the surety of the forfeiture by writ of scire facias within five (5) working days of the entry of such order of judgment nisi either by personal service or by certified mail. Failure of the clerk to provide the required notice within ten (10) working days shall constitute prima facie evidence that the order should be set aside.
IV. Allotted Time between Forfeiture Declaration and Payment Due Date
WEST'S ANNOTATED MISSISSIPPI CODE TITLE 99. CRIMINAL PROCEDURE CHAPTER 5. BAIL§ 99-5-25. Forfeiture of bail bonds; procedures
1. The judgment nisi shall be returnable for ninety (90) days from the date of issuance. If during such period the defendant appears before the court, or is arrested and surrendered, then the judgement nisi shall be set aside. If the surety fails to produce the defendant and does not provide to the court reasonable mitigating circumstances upon such showing, then the forfeiture shall be made final.
2. Reasonable mitigating circumstances shall be that the defendant is incarcerated in another jurisdiction, that the defendant is hospitalized under a doctor's care, that the defendant is in a recognized drug rehabilitation program, that the defendant has been placed in a witness protection program and it shall be the duty of any such agency placing such defendant into a witness protection program to notify the court and the court to notify the surety, or any other reason justifiable to the court.
3. If a final judgment is entered against a surety licensed by the Department of Insurance and has not been set aside after ninety (90) days, or later if such time is extended by the court issuing the judgment nisi, then the court shall order the department to revoke the authority of such surety to write bail bonds.
4. The commissioner shall, upon notice of the court, notify said surety within five (5) working days of receipt of revocation. If after ten (10) working days of such notification the revocation order has not been set aside by the court, then the commissioner shall revoke the authority of the surety and all agents of the surety and shall notify the sheriff of every county of such revocation.
5. If within twelve (12) months of the date of the final forfeiture the defendant appears for court, is arrested or surrendered to the court, or if the defendant is found to be incarcerated in another jurisdiction and a hold order placed on the defendant, then the amount of bail, less reasonable extradition cost, excluding attorney fees, shall be refunded by the court upon application by the surety.
V. Forfeiture Defenses
WEST'S ANNOTATED MISSISSIPPI CODE TITLE 83. INSURANCE CHAPTER 39. BAIL BONDS AND BONDSMEN § 83-39-7. Qualification bond; amount; conditions; forfeiture; return of defendants held in other jurisdictions
A. In the event of a final judgment of forfeiture of any bail bond written under the provisions of this chapter, the amount of money so forfeited by the final judgment of the proper court, less all accrued court costs and excluding any interest charges or attorney's fees, shall be refunded to the bail agent or his insurance company upon proper showing to the court as to which is entitled to same, provided the defendant in such cases is returned to the sheriff of the county to which the original bail bond was returnable within twelve (12) months of the date of such final judgment, or proof made of incarceration of the defendant in another jurisdiction, and that a "Hold Order" has been placed upon the defendant for return of the defendant to the sheriff upon release from the other jurisdiction, the return to the sheriff to be the responsibility of the professional bail agent as provided in subsection (2) of this section, then the bond forfeiture shall be stayed and remission made upon petition to the court, in the amount found in the court's discretion to be just and proper.
2. A bail agent licensed under this chapter shall have a right to apply for and obtain from the proper court an extension of time delaying a final judgment of forfeiture if such bail agent can satisfactorily establish to the court wherein such forfeiture is pending that the defendant named in the bail bond is lawfully in custody outside of the State of Mississippi.
3. The professional bail agent shall satisfy the responsibility to return the defendant who has been held by a "Hold Order" in another jurisdiction upon release from the other jurisdiction:
a. By personally returning the defendant to the sheriff at no cost to the county; or
b. Where the other jurisdiction will not release the defendant to any person other than a law enforcement officer, by reimbursing to the county the reasonable cost of the return of the defendant, not to exceed the cost that would be entailed if the option in paragraph (a) of this subsection were available.
See above, section #5, first subset, for a referral to "remission".
VII. Bail Agent’s Arrest Authority
WEST'S ANNOTATED MISSISSIPPI CODE TITLE 99. CRIMINAL PROCEDURE CHAPTER 5. BAIL§ 99-5-27. Surrender of principal on bond; liability; authority to make arrest; interview of defendant
A. Bail, or its agent, at any time, may surrender its principal to any law enforcement agency or in open court in discharge of its liability on the principal's bond if the law enforcement agency that was involved in setting the original bond approves of such surrender, to the State of Mississippi and any of its courts and at any time may arrest and transport its principal anywhere or may authorize another to do so, may be assisted by any law enforcement agency or its agents anywhere upon request of bail and may receive any information available to law enforcement or the courts pertaining to the principal for the purpose of safe surrender or for any reasonable cause in order to safely return the principal to the custody of law enforcement and the court.
B. Bail, or its agent, at any time, may arrest its principal anywhere or authorize another to do so for the purpose of surrender of the principal on bail bond. Failure of the sheriff or chief of police or his jailer, any law enforcement agency or its agents or the court to accept surrender by bail or its agent shall relieve bail of any liability on principal's bond, and the bond shall be held for naught.
C. Bail, or its agent, at any time, upon request by the defendant or others on behalf of the defendant, may privately interview the defendant to obtain information to help with surrender before posting any bail bond on behalf of the defendant. All licensed bail agents shall have equal access to jails or detention facilities for the purpose of such interviews, the posting of bail bonds and the surrender of principal.
VIII. Other Noteworthy Provisions
A. WEST'S ANNOTATED MISSISSIPPI CODE TITLE 83. INSURANCE CHAPTER 39. BAIL BONDS AND BONDSMEN § 83-39-7. Qualification bond; amount; conditions; forfeiture; return of defendants held in other jurisdictions
The revocation of the license of the professional bail agent shall also serve to revoke the license of each soliciting bail agent and bail enforcement agent employed or used by such professional bail agent.
B. WEST'S ANNOTATED MISSISSIPPI CODE TITLE 99. CRIMINAL PROCEDURE CHAPTER 5. BAIL § 99-5-27. Surrender of principal on bond; liability; authority to make arrest; interview of defendant
1. "Surrender" means the delivery of the defendant, principal on bond, physically to the sheriff or chief of police or in his absence, his jailer, and it is the duty of the sheriff or chief of police, or his jailer, to accept the surrender of the principal when presented and such act is complete upon the execution of verbal or written surrender notice presented by bail and shall relieve bail of liability on principal's bond.
2. Bail may surrender principal if principal is found to be detained on another charge. If principal is found incarcerated in another jurisdiction, bail may surrender him by verbal or written notice of surrender to the sheriff or chief of police, or his jailer, of that jurisdiction and the notice of surrender shall act as a "Hold Order" and upon presentation of written surrender notice to the court of proper jurisdiction, the court shall order a "Hold Order" placed on the principal for the court and shall relieve bail of liability on principal's bond, with the provision that, upon release from incarceration in the other jurisdiction, return of the principal to the sheriff shall be the responsibility of bail. Bail shall satisfy the responsibility to return a principal held by a "Hold Order" in another jurisdiction upon release from the other jurisdiction either by personally returning principal to the sheriff at no cost to the county or, where the other jurisdiction will not release principal to any person other than a law enforcement officer, by reimbursing to the county the reasonable cost of the return of principal, not to exceed the cost that would be entailed if the first option were available.
3. The surrender of principal by bail, within the time period provided in Section 99-5-25, shall serve to discharge its liability to the State of Mississippi and any of its courts; but if this be done after forfeiture of the bond or recognizance, the court shall set aside the judgment nisi or final judgment upon filing of surrender notice by bail.
IX. Noteworthy State Appellate Decisions
A. Autry v. State
698 So.2d 84
Mississippi Appellate Court
July 31, 1997
Bail bondsman filed motion for relief from judgment of forfeited appearance bond when principal was captured. The Circuit Court, Marshall County, R. Kenneth Coleman, J., overruled motion. Appeal was taken. The Supreme Court, Dan Lee, C.J., held that:
(1) bail bondsman's inaction and payment of forfeited appearance bond waived any alleged defect from service of process on person allegedly not authorized to act as bail bondsman's agent for service of process;
(2) statute requiring return of principal within 12 months in order for bail bondsman to recover forfeited appearance bond is rationally related to legitimate government interest; and
(3) application of statute requiring return of principal within 12 months in order for bail bondsman to recover forfeited appearance bond did not violate any constitutional rights of bail bondsman. Affirmed.
B. Sides v. State
519 So.2d 1222.
Mississippi Appellate Court
Although statute provides that bondsman may petition court for refund of money forfeited on final judgment, where defendant is returned within 12 months of such judgment, allowing in alternative a bondsman to petition for stay and remission of forfeiture, where there is proof of defendant's incarceration within another jurisdiction, subject to "hold order" for his return, statute did not contemplate stay and remission of forfeiture, where defendant was returned within 12 months, but final judgment of forfeiture of bail bond remained unpaid.
C. Brown v. State
344 So.2d 1192.
Mississippi Appellate Court
Where defendant was either apprehended by or returned to sheriff within 12 months of date of final judgment on forfeiture of bail bond, bondsman was entitled to a refund of that bond, but in order to determine amount to be remitted, it was necessary that a determination be made of expenses incurred by county in apprehending defendant and amount of unpaid court costs.
D. Allied Fidelity Ins. Co. v. State
384 So.2d 860.
Mississippi Appellate Court
Where court had entered final judgment of forfeiture of bail bond from which no appeal was taken, judgment could not be amended or set aside so as to grant corporation engaged professionally in writing bail bonds an additional 30 days to produce and deliver parties for whom corporation had made bail and attempted extensions of time, made on authority of circuit court and approval by district attorney, were invalid.
X. Bounty Hunter Provisions
At this time, there appear to be no specific regulations for "Bounty Hunters" in the Mississippi statutes.