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    Document Summary
    - Report Published -

    House Document No. 21

    Document Title
    Interim Report - Study of Bail Bondsmen and Bounty Hunters

    Virginia State Crime Commission

    Enabling Authority
    HJR 201 (Regular Session, 2002)

    Executive Summary
    In Spring 2002, the Virginia State Crime Commission began a two-year study that focused on issues regarding both surety and property bail bondsmen. Crime Commission staff conducted interviews with judges, clerks of court, magistrates and bail bondsmen from various areas of the Commonwealth, as well as representatives from the American Bail Coalition and the Arkansas Professional Bail Bond Company and Licensing Board. Additionally, staff of the Crime Commission met with and worked in conjunction with the State Corporation Commission and the Virginia Supreme Court. The Crime Commission staff reviewed other state statutes and collected and analyzed data from court recognizance forms and statutorily required evidence of collateral from each court of the Commonwealth. In addition, Virginia criminal background checks were conducted for property and casualty insurance agents who may engage in the bail bond industry.

    First Year Study Recommendations
    First year recommendations begin the process of identifying and regulating bail bondsmen in Virginia. In addition, these recommendations ensure a process whereby current data and information on collateral and bonding privileges are maintained by the courts.

    Recommendation 1
    Codify the definitions of those who engage in the bail bond industry as insurance agents (surety bail bondsmen) and those who engage in the bail bond industry with real property or other personal property (property bail bondsmen).

    Surety Bail Bondsmen - an individual licensed pursuant to Article 6.2 ( 38.21856 et seq.) of this chapter who sells, solicits, or negotiates insurance as defined in 38.2-121 on behalf of insurers licensed in this Commonwealth, pursuant to which the insurer becomes surety on or guarantees a bond, as defined in 19.2-119, that has been posted to assure performance of terms and conditions specified by order of an appropriate judicial officer as a condition of bail.

    Property Bail Bondsmen - an individual, or the agent of an individual, who pledges real property, cash or certificates of deposit issued by a federally insured institution, or any combination thereof as security for a bond, as defined in 19.2-119, that has been posted to assure performance of terms and conditions specified by order of an appropriate judicial officer as a condition of bail.

    Recommendation 2
    Add a new section for surety bail bondsmen in Title 38.2 of the Code of Virginia, to distinguish those insurance agents who engage in bail bonding from other insurance agents.

    Recommendation 3
    Amend the Code to require the State Corporation Commission to establish a separate database for surety bail bondsmen.

    Recommendation 4
    Amend the Code to prohibit the State Corporation Commission from licensing surety bail bondsmen who have been convicted of a felony offense, unless the agent's rights have been restored by the Governor.

    Recommendation 5
    Amend the Code to require as of July 1, 2003, all current insurance agents who engage in the bail bond industry go through a re-licensure process whereby a national criminal background check will be conducted.

    Recommendation 5A
    Require that persons applying for new licenses, re-licensure and/or renewal shall, as part of the licensure process:
    1. shall submit fingerprints and personal descriptive information to the CCRE to be forwarded to the FBI for the purposes of obtaining a national criminal background check;
    2. the cost of such check shall be paid by the applying agent; and,
    3. the State Police shall submit an eligibility report to the SCC prior to licensure.

    Recommendation 6
    Amend the Code to require the State Corporation Commission renew surety bail bondsmen licenses every two years; renewal requirements should at a minimum consist of a national history background check.

    Recommendation 7
    Amend 38.2-1831 to mandate that the State Corporation Commission shall revoke any surety bail bondsmen's license for anyone of the 16 listed prohibitions, except for 11, 15, and 16, whereby the State Corporation Commission may retain the discretionary standard.

    Recommendation 8
    Amend 38.2-1832 to give the State Corporation Commission discretion in suspending licenses pending and/or during investigation of surety bail bondsmen.

    Recommendation 9
    Amend the Code to require the State Corporation Commission to collect, as part of licensure and renewal of surety bail bondsmen, copies of the powers-of-attorney required under 38.2-2416.

    Recommendation 10
    Amend the Code to require the State Corporation Commission to provide notice to the clerks of court of "suspended" companies with those of companies whose ability to insure has been revoked under 38.2-2412.

    Recommendation 11
    Amend the Code to require that all powers vested to property bail bondsmen under 19.2152.1 be revoked as of October 1, 2003, unless a certified tax assessment or appraisal of the property (within 1 year) and an affidavit verifying sufficient equity in such property is on file in the Circuit Court where bonding privileges were granted. This shall be done yearly each July 1.

    Recommendation 12
    Amend 19.2-152.1 to require property bail bondsmen to submit a fingerprint based criminal background check to assist the Circuit Court judge in issuing a certificate of good moral character.

    Recommendation 13
    Amend 19.2-152.1 to require all demographic information of property bail bondsmen and their companies be on file as of October 1, 2003, or powers to bond shall be suspended until all information is provided to the Circuit Court.

    Recommendation 14
    Amend 19.2-152.1 for the Supreme Court of Virginia to prescribe a form for property bail bondsmen to file monthly reports.