Opposition to Bail Bond Reinstatement Fee – Item No. 13 of Judicial Council’s Sponsored Initiatives for Court Efficiencies
Senate Appropriations Committee
Re: Opposition to Bail Bond Reinstatement Fee
Item No. 13 of Judicial Council’s Sponsored Initiatives for Court Efficiencies
Golden State Bail Agents Association (GSBAA) is a trade association representing the California bail industry. The purpose of the association is to promote the understanding of the bail industry’s important role in California’s criminal justice system and to protect the rights of its citizens. The Association is headquartered in Sacramento, California, but has members throughout California. The members of GSBAA include bail employees, bail agents and bail insurance companies.
We oppose the bail bond reinstatement fee because the cost estimates are exaggerated and it will discourage defendants who have failed to appear in court, from reappearing in court to stand trial for their alleged offense. This fee would not be paid by the bail agent, but would be passed on to the defendant for payment. Defendants who cannot afford the fee will not reappear in court to reinstate their bail bonds.
Under current law, when a defendant reappears in court after failing to appear, the court usually must exonerate the bail bond and remand the defendant back into custody. (Penal Code §1305(c)(1)) The reinstatement process is an exception to this rule. Reinstatement is judicially economical because it allows the court to reinstate the same bail bond and for the defendant to remain free on that bail bond provided that the bail agent is given prior notice of the reinstatement and the defendant hasn’t been surrendered. (Penal Code §1305(c)(4))
Exonerating the bail bond and remanding the defendant back into custody is very costly, requiring much more court staff time than the reinstatement and will exacerbate jail overcrowding. Furthermore, jails with federal overcrowding orders may release the defendant with no supervision and no bail bond to insure his appearance in court.
Defendants who remain in custody are much less likely to waive their speedy trial rights which puts the court under short deadlines and raises the possibility that the case will be dismissed and refiled later by the prosecutor. This will cost the court much more than reinstating the bond.
Finally, the reinstatement notice is a simple one page document prepared by the bail agent wherein the bail agent consents to reinstatement of the same bail bond. This document contains an order which is signed by the judge. It does not take $65.00 worth of court staff time to process this simple document. Furthermore, the bail bond does not have to be “reprocessed.” No new bail bond is posted and the defendant remains free on the same bail bond. All the court staff does is check a box in the court’s computerized docket system indicating that the bond has been reinstated.
John Bench, President
Golden State Bail Agents Association