I. Applicable Statutes
A. CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA 1976 ANNOTATED TITLE 38. INSURANCE CHAPTER 53. BAIL BONDSMEN AND RUNNERS.
B. CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA 1976 ANNOTATED TITLE 17. CRIMINAL PROCEDURES CHAPTER 15. BAIL AND RECOGNIZANCES.
II. Licensing Requirements for Agents
A. CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA 1976 ANNOTATED TITLE 38. INSURANCE CHAPTER 53. BAIL BONDSMEN AND RUNNERS § 38-53-10. Definitions.
1. "Bail bondsman" means a surety bondsman, professional bondsman, or an accommodation bondsman as defined in this chapter.
2. "Professional bondsman" means any person who is approved and licensed under the provisions of this chapter and who pledges cash or approved securities with the clerk of court as security for bail bonds written in connection with a judicial proceeding and receives or is promised money or other things of value for the pledge.
3. "Runner" means a person employed by a bail bondsman for the purpose of assisting the bail bondsman in presenting the defendant in court when required, assisting in the apprehension and surrender of the defendant to the court, keeping the defendant under necessary surveillance, and executing bonds on behalf of the licensed bondsman when the power of attorney has been recorded. "Runner" does not include an attorney or a law enforcement officer assisting a bondsman.
4. "Surety" means one who, with the defendant, is liable for the amount of the bail bond upon forfeiture of bail.
B. § 38-53-80. License required of bail bondsman and runners.
1. No person may act in the capacity of a professional bondsman, surety bondsman, or runner or perform any of the functions, duties, or powers prescribed for professional or surety bondsmen or runners under the provisions of this chapter unless that person is qualified, except for an accommodation bondsman, licensed in accordance with the provisions of this chapter. No license may be issued to a professional bondsman, surety bondsman, or runner except as provided in this chapter.
2. The failure of the applicant to secure approval of the [Insurance] director or his designee does not preclude him from applying as many times as he desires, but no application may be considered by the director or his designee within one year subsequent to the date upon which the director or his designee denied the applicant's last application.
C. SOUTH CAROLINA 2000 SESSION LAWS REGULAR SESSION Act 358 S.B. No. 1166 INSURANCE - Licensed professional bondsman, surety bondsman, and runner SECTION 1. Section 38-53-85 of the 1976 Code, as added by Act 425 of 1998, is amended to read:
1. An applicant for a license to work as a professional bondsman, surety bondsman, or runner must complete not less than twenty hours of education in subjects pertinent to the duties and responsibilities of a professional and surety bondsman or runner, including all laws and regulations related to being a professional or surety bondsman or runner. A written examination must be administered at the conclusion of the course work. Each applicant must pass the examination before he can be licensed. Each person licensed as a professional bondsman, surety bondsman, or runner must complete annually not less than six hours of continuing education in subjects related to the duties and responsibilities of a professional and surety bondsman or runner before his license shall be renewed. The continuing education courses shall not include a written or oral examination. The six-hour annual requirement is in addition to the twenty-four hour continuing education requirement for surety insurance agents as required by Section 38-43-106.
2. A person licensed as a professional bondsman, surety bondsman, or runner before the effective date of this section is not required to complete the requisite twenty hours of education but must complete six hours of continuing education courses in order to have his license renewed.
3. The South Carolina Bail Agent's Association or any other group or association approved by the Department of Insurance to provide educational courses to bondsmen must establish an educational curriculum for bondsman licensure. The Department of Insurance must approve the courses offered and ensure that the courses meet the standards for education established by this section and the department. The requirement of course work for licensure is not satisfied by a mail order course. The department must also approve a written examination to be administered by all groups who provide educational courses to be administered at the conclusion of the twenty-hour course work.
4. A person who falsely represents that he has met the educational requirements of this section is subject, after being afforded notice and an opportunity for a due process hearing by the Administrative Law Judge Division, to the penalty provided for in Section 38-53-340.
5. A professional bondsman, surety bondsman, or runner who is more than sixty years of age and who has at least twenty years of licensure is exempt from the continuing education requirements contained in this section.
6. The director shall establish rules and regulations for the effective administration of this section. Time effective
7. Approved the 6th day of June, 2000.
D. CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA 1976 ANNOTATED TITLE 38. INSURANCE CHAPTER 53. BAIL BONDSMEN AND RUNNERS § 38-53-90. Qualifications for licensure of professional bondsman, surety bondsman or runner.
Before a license is issued to an applicant permitting him to act as a professional bondsman or runner, the applicant shall furnish to the director or his designee a complete set of his fingerprints and a recent passport size full-face photograph. The applicant's fingerprints must be certified by an authorized law enforcement officer. Before being issued the license, every applicant for a license as a professional bondsman, surety bondsman, or runner shall certify to the director that he:
1. is eighteen years of age or older;
2. is a resident of this State;
3. is a person of good moral character and has not been convicted of a felony or any crime involving moral turpitude within the last ten years;
4. has knowledge, training, or experience of sufficient duration and extent to satisfy reasonably the director or his designee that he possesses the competence necessary to fulfill the responsibilities of a licensee.
E. § 38-53-120. Additional requirements of runners.
In addition to the other requirements of this chapter, an applicant for a license to be a runner shall show affirmatively that:
1. the applicant will be employed by only one bail bondsman who shall supervise the work of the applicant and is responsible for the runner's conduct in the bail bond business;
2. the application is endorsed by the appointing bail bondsman who shall obligate himself in the application to supervise the runner's activities.
F. § 38-53-140. Expiration of license; renewal license.
All licenses issued pursuant to the provisions of this chapter expire annually on June thirtieth unless revoked or suspended prior to that time by the director or his designee or upon notice served upon the director or his designee that the employer of any runner has canceled the licensee's authority to act for the employer. A renewal license must be issued by the director or his designee to a licensee who has met the continuing education requirements in Section 38-53-85(A) upon the payment of a renewal fee of two hundred dollars for runners and four hundred dollars for professional bondsmen, but the licensees are required in all other respects to comply with the provisions of this chapter. After the receipt of the licensee's application for renewal, the current license continues in effect until the renewal license is issued or denied for cause.
1. A license fee of four hundred dollars must be paid to the director or his designee with each application for a license as a professional bondsman.
2. A license fee of two hundred dollars must be paid to the director or his designee with each application for a license as a runner.
H. See also:
1. § 38-53-110. Financial statement required.
2. § 38-53-150. Denial, suspension, revocation, or refusal to renew license; monetary penalty.
3. § 38-53-160. Notice and hearing required; right to appeal.
4. § 38-53-170. Unlawful acts.
III. Notice of Forfeiture
CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA 1976 ANNOTATED TITLE 17. CRIMINAL PROCEDURES CHAPTER 15. BAIL AND RECOGNIZANCES § 17-15-170. Proceedings in case of forfeiture of recognizances.
A. Whenever the recognizance is forfeited by noncompliance with its condition, the Attorney General, solicitor, magistrate, or other person acting for him immediately shall issue a notice to summon every party bound in the forfeited recognizance to appear at the next ensuing court to show cause, if he has any, why judgment should not be confirmed against him. If any person so bound fails to appear or, upon appearing, does not give a reason for not performing the condition of the recognizance as the court considers sufficient, then the judgment on the recognizance is confirmed. A magistrate may confirm judgments of not more than the maximum fine allowable under Section 22-3-550 in addition to assessments.
B. State v. Johnson (S.C. 1907) 77 S.C. 252, 57 S.E. 846. - While this section [Code 1962 § 17-311] requires issuance of notice, it does not prescribe the place, manner, or proof of service as is provided when the procedure is in the civil court. If, therefore, the notice is issued as required, and it appears to the satisfaction of the court that a copy of the same has been delivered to the party, this section [Code 1962 § 17-311] is complied with, and all the ends to be subserved by a notice are achieved.
IV. Allotted Time between Forfeiture Declaration and Payment Due Date
CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA 1976 ANNOTATED TITLE 38. INSURANCE CHAPTER 53. BAIL BONDSMEN AND RUNNERS § 38-53-70. Issuance of bench warrant; remission of judgment.
If a defendant fails to appear at a court proceeding to which he has been summoned, the court must issue a bench warrant for the defendant. If the surety fails to surrender the defendant or place a hold on the defendant's release from incarceration, commitment, or institutionalization within thirty days of the issuance of the bench warrant, the bond shall be forfeited.
V. Forfeiture Defenses
CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA 1976 ANNOTATED TITLE 38. INSURANCE CHAPTER 53. BAIL BONDSMEN AND RUNNERS § 38-53-50. Surety relieved on bond; surrender of defendant; filing of new undertaking.
A. A surety desiring to be relieved on a bond for "good cause" or the nonpayment of fees shall file with the court a motion to be relieved on the bond. A copy of the motion must be served upon the defendant, his attorney, and the solicitor's office. The court shall then schedule a hearing to determine if the surety should be relieved on the bond and advise all parties of the hearing date.
B. If the circumstances warrant immediate incarceration of the defendant to prevent imminent violation of any one of the specific terms of the bail bond, or if the defendant has violated any one of the specific terms of the bond, the surety may take the defendant to the appropriate detention facility for holding until the court orders that the surety be relieved. The surety must immediately file with the detention facility and the court an affidavit stating the facts to support the surrender of the defendant for good cause or the nonpayment of fees. When the affidavit is filed with the court, the surety must also file a motion to be relieved on the bond pursuant to subsection (A). A surety who surrenders a defendant and files an affidavit which does not show good cause or the nonpayment of fees is subject to penalties imposed for perjury as provided for in Article 1, Chapter 9 of Title 16.
C. After the surety has been relieved by order of the court, a new undertaking must be filed with the appropriate court in order to secure the re- release of the defendant. The undertaking must contain the same conditions included in the original bond unless the conditions have been changed by the court.
A. CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA 1976 ANNOTATED TITLE 17. CRIMINAL PROCEDURES CHAPTER 15. BAIL AND RECOGNIZANCES § 17-15-180. Court may remit forfeiture in certain cases.
If any person shall forfeit a recognizance from ignorance or unavoidable impediment and not from wilful default, the court of sessions may, on affidavit stating the excuse or cause thereof, remit the whole or any part of the forfeiture as may be deemed reasonable.
B. CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA 1976 ANNOTATED TITLE 38. INSURANCE CHAPTER 53. BAIL BONDSMEN AND RUNNERS § 38-53-70. Issuance of bench warrant; remission of judgment.
At any time before execution is issued on a judgment of forfeiture against a defendant or his surety, the court may direct that the judgment be remitted in whole or in part, upon conditions as the court may impose, if it appears that justice requires the remission of part or all of the judgment. In making a determination as to remission of the judgment, the court shall consider the costs to the State or any county or municipality resulting from the necessity to continue or terminate the defendant's trial and the efforts of law enforcement officers or agencies to locate the defendant. The court in its discretion may permit the surety to pay the estreatment in installments for a period of up to six months. If at any time during the period in which installments are to be paid the defendant is surrendered to the appropriate detention facility and the surety complies with the re-commitment procedures, the surety shall be relieved of any further liability.
VII. Bail Agent’s Arrest Authority
CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA 1976 ANNOTATED TITLE 38. INSURANCE CHAPTER 53. BAIL BONDSMEN AND RUNNERS § 38-53-60. Arrest of defendant.
For the purpose of surrendering the defendant, the surety may arrest him before the forfeiture of the undertaking or, by his written authority endorsed on a certified copy of the undertaking, may request any judicial officer to order the arrest of the defendant by the surety.
VIII. Other Noteworthy Provisions
A. CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA 1976 ANNOTATED TITLE 38. INSURANCE CHAPTER 53. BAIL BONDSMEN AND RUNNERS § 38-53-40. Qualifications of surety.
Each surety for the release of a person on bail must be qualified as:
1. an insurer and represented by a surety bondsman;
2. a professional bondsman; or
3. an accommodation bondsman.
B. § 38-53-102. Suspension of license.
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the department must suspend for a period of five years the license of a bail bondsman, his associates, affiliates, or runners who refer defendants to attorneys. However, nothing contained in this section shall be construed to prohibit a bail bondsman, his associates, affiliates, or runners from indicating to a defendant that he should contact an attorney for professional assistance, as long as the bail bondsman, his associates, affiliates, or runners do not mention or in any other manner suggest or indicate a particular attorney or law firm by name.
C. § 38-53-230. Professional bondsmen to supply list of runners; termination of appointment.
Every person licensed as a professional bondsman may appoint as runner any person who has been issued a runner's license. Each bondsman shall before July second of each year furnish to the clerk of court of each county where he is doing business and the director or his designee a list of all runners appointed by him. Each bondsman who, subsequent to the filing of this list, appoints additional persons as runners shall file written notice with the clerk of court of each county where he is doing business and the director or his designee of the appointment. A bondsman terminating the appointment of a runner shall file written notice of the termination with the clerk of court and the director or his designee together with a statement that he has given or mailed notice to the runner. Notice filed with the clerk of court and the director or his designee shall state the reasons, if any, for termination. Information so furnished the director or his designee is privileged and may not be used as evidence in any action against the bondsman.
IX. Noteworthy State Appellate Decisions
A. Wrenn Bail Bond Service, Inc. v. City of Hanahan
335 S.C. 26
515 S.E.2d 521
South Carolina Supreme Court
April 5, 1999
Bail bondsman brought action challenging city's imposition of business license fee. The Circuit Court, Berkeley County, Rodney A. Peeples, J., entered judgment for city, and bondsman appealed. The Supreme Court, Moore, J., held that:
(1) ordinance requiring payment of fee for doing business in city was not preempted by statutes governing licensing of bail bondsmen, but
(2) bondsman was not doing business within city so as to subject him to business license fee. Reversed.
B. Carson v. Vance
326 S.C. 543
485 S.E.2d 126
South Carolina Appellate Court
April 14, 1997
Bystander who had been shot while agent for North Carolina bail bond company attempted to apprehend bail jumper in South Carolina obtained default judgment in North Carolina against owner of company, who was North Carolina resident, and sought to enforce default judgment in South Carolina. The Circuit Court, Greenville County, Henry F. Floyd, J., granted plaintiff's motion for enforcement, and defendant appealed. The Court of Appeals, Howard, J., held that:
(1) actions of bond company's agent which occurred in North Carolina were attributable to owner for purposes of determining whether owner was subject to personal jurisdiction in North Carolina, and
(2) owner had sufficient contacts with North Carolina to allow exercise of jurisdiction. Affirmed.
C. Anderson County v. Indiana Lumbermens Mut. Ins. Co.
304 S.C. 363
404 S.E.2d 718
South Carolina Appellate Court
May 13, 1991
County brought action to enforce three judgments rendered against bonding company, arising from bail bonds estreated in general sessions court. County sought to enforce judgments against surety which granted to bonding company power of attorney to execute and deliver bail bonds on its behalf. The Court of Common Pleas, Anderson County, William B. Traxler, Jr., J., ruled in favor of county, and surety appealed. The Court of Appeals, Cureton, J., held that:
(1) Court of Common Pleas had subject matter jurisdiction to determine whether judgments could be enforced against surety, and
(2) since notice of proceeding to estreat bonds was only given to bonding company, surety was not bound by judgments entered in proceedings. Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.
D. State v. Holloway
262 S.C. 552
206 S.E.2d 822
South Carolina Supreme Court
1. The extent of the remission, if any, to be allowed by virtue of the surrender of the defendant after default was within the discretion of the court, to be determined in the light of all of the facts and circumstances.
2. Where accused was released after signing bond but failed to appear for trial, and surety presented him to the court at bond forfeiture hearing, his surrender after default did not entitle surety to a remission of the forfeiture, as a matter of right, since the extent of the remission, if any, was within the discretion of the court, citing Am Jur 2d.
X. Bounty Hunter Provisions
At this time, there appear to be no specific regulations for "Bounty Hunters" in the South Carolina statutes. See 9.B. above.