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Applicable Statutes.FLORIDA STATUTES (FS) Chapter 648, Chapter 903
FLORIDA ADMINISTRATIVE CODE (AR),
Governance by Local Rule. Does not appear to allow local jurisdictions to modify statutes or regulations.
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)].
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)].
The regulatory body is the Department of Insurance (DOI) [FS 648.26].
Notice of Forfeiture [FS 903.26]
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)].
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)],
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)].
– 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 defendant’s required appearance [FS 903.26(1)(b)], the bond cannot be forfeited,
– the court at its discretion may determine that a defendant’s 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)].
[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)].
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].
Other Noteworthy Provisions.
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].
Qualifications for pre-licensing and continuing education classes and instructors [FS 648.386].
Noteworthy State Appellate Decisions. (To be added.)
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)].