Annotated Code of Maryland (ACM) 10-101 et seq. Subtitle 3: Bail Bondsmen
Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) 31.03.05
Maryland Rules, Criminal Causes Rule 4-217
“Bail bondsman” means a surety agent who is appointed by an insurer to solicit, procure, negotiate, and effectuate bail bonds on behalf of that insurer. [COMAR 31.03.05.02]
Bail agents in Maryland must comply with the following for licensure:
Under certain conditions the examination or experience requirement can be waived by the Commissioner.
The Commissioner shall require continuing education for agents to renew the certificate of qualification, but may not require them to receive more than 16 hours of continuing education per renewal period for those who have had a certificate for less than 25 consecutive years, or not more than 8 hours for those having the certificate for 25 or more consecutive years.
The regulatory body is the Maryland Insurance Administration.
Notice of Forfeiture
If a defendant fails to appear as required, the court shall order forfeiture of the bail bond and issuance of a warrant for the defendant’s arrest. The clerk shall promptly notify any surety on the defendant’s bond, and the State’s Attorney, of the forfeiture of the bond and the issuance of the warrant. [MD Rules, Rule 4-217(i)]
Forfeiture to Judgment
If an order of forfeiture has not been stricken or satisfied within 90 days after the defendant’s failure to appear, or within 180 days if the time has been extended, the clerk shall forthwith:
Enforcement of the judgment shall be by the State’s Attorney in accordance with those provisions of the rules relating to the enforcement of judgments. [MD Rules, Rule 4-217(i)4]
Defenses to Forfeiture
If the defendant or surety can show reasonable grounds for the defendant’s failure to appear. the court shall (A) strike out the forfeiture in whole or in part; and (B) set aside any judgment entered thereon. and (C) order the remission in whole or in part of the penalty sum paid pursuant to subsection (3) of this section. [MD Rules, Rule 4-217(i)2]
Within 90 days from the date the defendant fails to appear, which time the court may extend to 180 days upon good cause shown, a surety shall satisfy any order of forfeiture, either by producing the defendant in court or by paying the penalty sum of the bond.
If the defendant is produced within such time by the State, the court shall require the surety to pay the expenses of the State in producing the defendant and shall treat the order of forfeiture satisfied with respect to the remainder of the penalty sum.
When the defendant is produced in court after the 90 or 180-day period (if extended), the surety may apply for the refund of any penalty sum paid in satisfaction of the forfeiture less any expenses permitted by law. If the penalty sum has not been paid, the court, on application of the surety and payment of any expenses permitted by law, shall strike the judgment against the surety entered as a result of the forfeiture.
If, within the 90 or 180-day period (if extended), the surety produces evidence and the court finds that the defendant is incarcerated in a penal institution outside this State and that the State’s Attorney is unwilling to issue a detainer and subsequently extradite the defendant, the court shall strike out the forfeiture and shall return the bond or collateral security to the surety.
If, after the expiration of the 90 or 180-day period (if extended), but within 10 years from the date the bond or collateral was posted, the surety produces evidence and the court finds that the defendant is incarcerated in a penal institution outside this State and that the State’s Attorney is unwilling to issue a detainer and subsequently extradite the defendant, the court shall (i) strike out the forfeiture; (ii) set aside any judgment thereon; and (iii) order the return of the forfeited bond or collateral or the remission of any penalty sum paid. [MD Rules, Rule 4-217(i)3]
Bail Agent’s Arrest Authority
A surety on a bail bond who has custody of a defendant may procure the discharge of the bail bond at any time before forfeiture by:
Unless released on a new bond, the defendant shall be taken forthwith before a judge of the court in which the charges are pending.
Noteworthy Appellate Decisions
Pantazes v. State , 834 A.2d 975 ( Md. App., 2003).
The defendant was convicted of child abuse but failed to appear at his sentencing. At that time, the trial court “revoked” the defendant’s bail, but did not formally declare it forfeited. 264 days later, the court became aware that the bail was never officially forfeited and an administrative judge took corrective action and forfeited the bond, issuing formal notice to the bonding company. The bonding company moved to strike the forfeiture. The Court of Special Appeals declared that the delay did not prejudice the bondsman and he was still obligated to produce the defendant.
Wiegand v. State , 363 Md. 186 (2001).
Defendant was charged with possession of marijuana and released on a bond issued by the bond company. At the time of the undertaking, the defendant was required to stay in the state of Maryland . However, the court later modified the release conditions and allowed the defendant to return to California without notifying the bondsman. The defendant failed to appear in court and the court moved to forfeit the bond. The bondsman filed a petition to strike the bond forfeiture. The Circuit Court denied the petition. The bondsman appealed to the Court of Special Appeals, which held that the bail bondsman was not entitled to be discharged from obligation of the bail bond when the court amended the pre-trial release conditions.