New Law Targets Rogue Bail Bondsmen

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I thought this was a good article to share. Not completely accurate but it good news for the industry and hopefully very bad news for the guys that have ruined the industry.

The Hartford Courant

HARTFORD ——

A new law targets rogue bail bondsmen who were springing criminal defendants without collecting any money upfront, a practice known as undercutting.

Established state laws require that bondsmen collect a percentage before writing a surety bond, but unscrupulous agents were entering into payment plans instead — and no proof was required that the full payment was ever collected. Several defendants who were released without paying a penny went on to commit serious assaults and homicides, including the murder last year of a West Haven woman by her husband, immediately following his second domestic-violence arrest in four months.

The legislature on Thursday passed a law requiring that bail agents collect a percentage of the fee upfront. Payment plans over 15 months are still allowed, but bondsmen now will have to prove to the state Insurance Department that they ultimately collected the full payment. The law requires for the first time that bail agents create and retain records of payments, and gives the Insurance Department the authority to audit the bondsmen and inspect all records of transactions with criminal defendant.

“These reforms — long overdue — put the safety of the victims first,” said state Rep. Mae Flexer, D-Danielson. “The current system did not adequately protect the victims of domestic violence. Defendants were let out of jail for less money than the judge ordered — meaning bail could be set at $1 million, but they could be released without paying a cent if a bondsman was willing to post the bond for free.”

These bondsmen depend on a high volume of business to make money — a lot of defendants who are paying a little bit over time.

William Biestek, a veteran bondsman based in Meriden who has pressed for reforms for years, said it’s a mistake to continue to allow 15-month payment plans.

“If the case is over in four months, what’s the incentive to pay?” said Biestek. “It will turn us into collection agents.”

Flexer countered that the reforms “are pretty sweeping.”

“The idea is to get defendants to actually pay something, and until now, the Insurance Department had no ability to examine payment records,” she said.

The law also prohibits bail bondsmen from soliciting business inside courthouses, police stations, correctional institutions, community correctional centers and detention facilitie

http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-bail-bond-reform-0528-20110527,0,7291661.story