I. Applicable State Statutes
A. Occupations Code, Chapter 1704
B. Revised Civil Statutes (RCS) of the State of Texas, Vol. 7A, Article 2372p-3
C. Code of Criminal Procedure (CCP), Ch. 14 Arrest Without Warrant, Ch. 17 Bail, & Ch. 22 Forfeiture of Bail
Unless otherwise specified, all references below will be to sections of Ch. 1704, Occupations Code.
1. Concerning local governance, the bail industry is regulated in all counties with a population of 110,000 or more (and in smaller counties on an optional basis) by County Bail Bond Boards (CBBB) [Sec. 1704.051] which have broad latitude in administering the act. The CBBB can exercise powers incidental and necessary to administer the act and can supervise and regulate each phase of the bonding business in the county. [1704.101(1)-(9)]
2. In counties without a CBBB, regulation is by the sheriff and by the judges within that county [CCP 17.11, 17.13]
II. State Licensing Requirements
A. Counties with a Bail Bond Board
1. Both individuals and corporations can be licensed
a. An individual must [Sec. 1704.152(a)(1)-(3)]
(1) Be a resident of Texas and a US citizen,
(2) Be at least 18 years old,
(3) Have financial resources to provide indemnity as set out in Sec. 1704.160,
(4) Have no final convictions of a felony or a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude [Sec. 1704.153]
b. A corporation must be [Sec. 1704.152(b)(1)-(2)]
(1) Chartered or admitted to do business in Texas,
(2) Qualified to write fidelity, guaranty, and surety bonds under the Insurance Code
2. In addition to the above, the applicant must file a sworn CBBB application form which prescribes at least the following [Sec1704.154]:
a. name, age, address, (if a corporation, whether qualified as above under the Texas Insurance Code), name under which the business will be conducted, location(s) of business [Sec. 1704.154(b)(2)
b. statement listing any nonexempt real property owned by the applicant that the applicant intends to execute in trust to the CBBB to secure payment of obligations if the license is granted [Sec. 1704.154(b)(3)(A)], statement showing the amount of cash or cash equivalent that the applicant intends to deposit with the treasurer if the license is granted [1704.154(b)(3)(B)], a complete sworn financial statement [Sec. 1704.154(b)(4)(A)], a declaration that the applicant will comply with the Act and any rules of the CBBB [1704.154(b)(4)(B)]
c. application has to be accompanied by letters of recommendation from three reputable persons who have known the applicant for at least three years (for a corporation, same requirement for the person to be in charge of the business) [Sec. 1704.154(b)(4)(C)]], a $500 filing fee [Sec. 1704.154(b)(4)(D)], a photograph of the applicant (for a corporation, of the person to be in charge of the business) [Sec. 1705.154(b)(4)(E)], a set of the fingerprints of the applicant (for a corporation, of the person to be in charge of the business) taken by a law enforcement officer designated by the board [Sec. 1704.154(b)(4)(F)], a letter from each CBBB in which the applicant is licensed stating whether the applicant is in good standing in that county [Sec. 1704.154(b)(4)(G)]
3. A hearing is to be conducted on an application [Sec. 1704.158] after the CBBB conducts preliminary inquiries about the applicant [Sec. 1704.157]
4. After tentative approval of the application, the applicant:
a. if an individual, deposits with the county treasurer cash or cash equivalent in the amount stated in the application [Sec. 1704.160(a)(1)(A)] or executes deeds of trust for the property listed in the application [Sec. 1704.160(a)(1)(B). The amount of the deposit or the value of the property pledged must be at least $50,000 (or $10,000 in counties with a population of less than 250,000) [Sec. 1704.160(b)-(c)]
5. No individual bondsman, in any county may execute bail bonds in excess of 10 times the value of the property held as security [Sec. 1704.203]. This does not apply to a corporate surety [Sec. 1704.203(e)].
6. Before executing any bail bond, the corporation must file with the county clerk a power of attorney for the corporationís agent(s), each of which must be a license holder [Sec. 1704.211(a)-(b)]
B. Counties without Bail Bond Boards
1. No license required for an individual surety. Person must satisfy the sheriff or the courts that he or she is worth at least twice the amount of the bond, exclusive of all property exempted by law from execution and of debts or other encumbrances, that he or she is a resident of the State of Texas, and that he or she has property in Texas liable to execution [CCP Art. 17.11]
2. A corporation may act as surety [CCP Art. 17.06], but shall before executing any bail bond first file in the office of the county clerk of the county where the bond is given a power of attorney designating and authorizing the named agent [CCP Art. 17.07]
3. An agent for a corporate surety must hold a local recording agent license issued by the Department of Insurance [Ins. Code, Art. 21.14]
III. Notice of Forfeiture
A judgment takes place at the time that the defendant fails to appear in court [CCP Art. 22.02]. The clerk must notify the surety of the judgment by service of citation [CCP Art. 22.03], a copy of the judgment of forfeiture must accompany the citation [CCP Art. 22.04], and the citation must be served in the time and manner required in civil actions [CCP Art. 22.05]. Citations in civil actions require an answer to be filed by 10:00 a.m. on the Monday next following 20 days after the date of service. [Tex. Rules of Civ. Proc., Rule 99(b)]
IV. Allotted Time Between Forfeiture Declaration and Payment Due Date
Forfeiture proceedings are governed by the same rules governing other civil suits. [CCP Art. 22.10]. If the surety fails to answer within the time limited for answering in other civil actions (the Monday next following 20 days after the date of service), the court shall enter judgment final by default. [CCP Art. 22.15]. If the surety answers, the surety is entitled to reasonable notice of at least 45 days before any trial setting. [Tex. Rules of Civ. Proc., Rule 245]
V. Forfeiture Defenses
A. The following will exonerate [CCP Art. 22.13]:
1. The bond is not valid
2. Death of the principal before the forfeiture was taken.
3. Sickness of the principal or other uncontrollable circumstance that prevented his appearance in court.
4. Failure to present an indictment or information at the first term of court after the principal has been admitted to bail.
B. Before forfeiture, the surety is relieved of liability if he surrenders the accused into the custody of the sheriff of the county where the prosecution is pending [CCP Art. 17.16(a)(1)]
C. Before forfeiture, the surety is absolved of liability by delivering to the sheriff of the county where the prosecution is pending an affidavit stating that the defendant is incarcerated in federal custody, in the custody of any state, or in any county of the State of Texas. [CCP Art. 17.16(a)2)]
A. After forfeiture, but before entry of a final judgment on that forfeiture, the court may remit all or part of the amount of the bond, within the courtís discretion. [CCP 22.16 (as construed by the courts)].
B. Not later than two years after entry of a final judgment, the surety may file with the court a special bill of review asking that the judgment be reformed and that all or part of the bond amount be remitted to the surety. The court in its discretion may grant or deny the bill in whole or in part. [CCP Art. 22.17]
VII. Bail Agentís Arrest Authority
The surety may surrender the principal with the written permission of the judge or magistrate before which the prosecution is pending. [CCP Art. 17.19]
VIII. Other Noteworthy Provisions
An action by the state to forfeit a bail bond must be brought within four years of the date when the principal failed to appear in court.
IX. Noteworthy Court Cases
X. Bounty Hunter Provisions
A. The surety can without force or breach of the peace surrender the principal at any time.
B. Before forfeiture, the surety can obtain a warrant for the arrest of the principal which can be executed by any peace officer, security officer or private investigator licensed in the State of Texas. [CCP Art. 17.19]
C. After forfeiture, the capias warrant may be executed by any peace officer or private investigator licensed in the State of Texas. [CCP 23.05]
XI. Jurisdictions Allowing On-Line Case Checking
Harris County (Houston)
Dallas County (Dallas)
Tarrant County (Fort Worth)
Bexar County (San Antonio)
Denton County (Denton)
Collin County (McKinney)
Comal County (New Braunfels)