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Liz Mason -
04-09-2011, 10:30 AM
From Internet Resource
Florida bail laws

1. Applicable Statutes.

1. FLORIDA STATUTES (FS) Chapter 648, Chapter 903
2. FLORIDA ADMINISTRATIVE CODE (AR),
Chapter 4-221



1. Governance by Local Rule. Does not appear to allow local jurisdictions to modify statutes or regulations.

2. Licensing Requirements.

In order to undertake bail in Florida, a person must have a license [AR 4-221.001, FS 648.26, 648.30]. Florida law specifies two kinds of bail bond agent:

(1) a limited surety agent, defined as a person appointed by an insurer to execute bail bonds [FS 648.25(6)],

(2) a professional bail bond agent, defined as a person who pledges US currency as security for a bail bond [FS 648.25(7)].

A. Qualifications for License.

1) Bail bond agents [FS 648.34] must comply with the following for licensure:

- an application submitted on forms prescribed by the Department of Insurance (DOI) [FS 648.34(1)],

- have complied with FS 648.355 and obtained a temporary license,

- be 18 years of age [FS 648.34(2)(a)],

- be a resident of Florida [FS 648.34(2)(b)],

- place of business must be located in a Florida county where records will be maintained and business actively conducted, accessible to the public during reasonable business hours [FS 648.34(2)(d)],

- of good character with no convictions on a felony, crime of moral turpitude, or crime punishable by 1 year or more [FS 648.34(2)(e)],

- passage of required examination (written [FS 648.38(1)-(10)]) [648.34(2)(f)],

- payment of fee for background checks and credit report [FS 648.34(3)],

- furnish photo and fingerprints with applications [FS 648.34(4)],

- completion of 14 hours of continuing education courses every two years [FS 648.385].

2) Professional bail bond agents have the same requirements as in FS 648.34, but in addition shall:

- file with application a detailed financial report [FS 648.35(1)],

- file a rating plan proposed for use in writing bail bonds which must be approved by the DOI [FS 648.35(2)].

B. The regulatory body is the Department of Insurance (DOI) [FS 648.26].

3. Notice of Forfeiture [FS 903.26]

A. Conditions of a forfeiture

- breach of the conditions of the bond and/or failure of defendant to appear [FS 903.26(2)(b)],

- clerk of the court must mail a notice of forfeiture to surety agent and surety company within 5 days [FS 903.26(2)(a)].

4. Forfeiture to Judgement.

- forfeitures must be paid within 60 days of date of notice [FS 903.26(2)(a)],

- if forfeiture is not paid within 60 days, the clerk of the court shall within 10 days furnish the DOI and the surety with a certification of the judgement docket [FS 903.27(1)],

- if judgement is not paid within 35 days, the clerk informs the DOI and sheriff of jurisdiction a statement that the judgement is unsatisfied [FS 903.27(1)],

- no sheriff can approve surety bail bonds from subject agent or company until such a judgement has been paid [FS 903.27(3)],

- the surety/agent has 35 days to file a motion to set aside a judgment or stay [FS 903.27(5)],

A. Tolling. If the defendant is returned to the court of jurisdiction, whenever a motion to set aside is filed, the operation of this section is tolled until the court makes its disposition [FS 903.27(1)].

5. Forfeiture Defenses.

- Unless the indictment is filed within 6 months of the arrest [FS 903.26(1)] and the clerk of the court gives 72 hours notice (exclusive of weekends and holidays) to surety of time of the defendantís required appearance [FS 903.26(1)(b)], the bond cannot be forfeited,

- the court at its discretion may determine that a defendantís FTA may not warrant a forfeiture [FS 903.26(2)(b)],

- impossible for defendant to appear because of circumstance beyond his control [FS 903.26(5)(a)],

- defendant was confined in an institution, hospital, or prison [FS 903.26(5)(b)],

- surrender or arrest of defendant if the delay has not thwarted prosecution [FS 903.26(5)(c)],

- discharge of defendant [FS 903.26(5)(c)],

- if defendant is arrested and returned to court of jurisdiction prior to judgement [FS 903.26(8)].

6. Remission

[FS 903.28] Remission can be granted up to two years subject to the following:

- if defendant is returned with 90 days, remission may be up to 100% [FS 903.28(2)], within 180 days, remission up to 95% [FS 903.28(3)], within 270 days, up to 90% [FS 903.28(4)], within 1 year, 85% [FS 903.28(5)], within 2 years, 50% [FS 903.28(6)].

7. Bail Agents Arrest Authority

[FS 903.20]. A surety may arrest a principal for surrender to official custody before a forfeiture [FS 903.22] or within 2 years of the forfeiture date [FS 903.29].

8. Other Noteworthy Provisions.

1.

All insurers shall have a licensed and appointed managing general agent who shall supervise their bail bond agents [AR 4-221.003, FS 648.388].
2.

Qualifications for prelicensing and continuing education classes and instructors [FS 648.386].

9. Noteworthy State Appellate Decisions. (To be added.)

10. Bounty Hunter Provisions. Florida does not allow bounty hunters.

Apprehension of bail fugitives is only allowed as set forth in FS 648.30(2)&(3):

(2) No person shall represent himself or herself to be a bail enforcement agent, bounty hunter, or other similar title in [Florida].

(3) No person, other than a certified law enforcement officer, shall be authorized to apprehend, detain, or arrest a principal on a bond, wherever issued, unless that person is qualified, licensed, and appointed as provided in this chapter or licensed as a bail bond agent by the state where the bond was written.

Violation of this is a 3rd class felony. [FS 648.30(4)].