Current Status Bill Number:
325Ratification Number: 506Act Number: 425Type of Legislation: General Bill GBIntroducing Body: SenateIntroduced Date: 19970205Primary Sponsor: BryanAll Sponsors: BryanDrafted Document Number: jud6022.jebCompanion Bill Number: 3191Date Bill Passed both Bodies: 19980604Date of Last Amendment: 19980604Governor's Action: U Became law without signature of GovernorDate of Governor's Action: 19980617Subject: Bail, bondsmen, runners, commitment orders, Courts, Magistrates, bailable offense, bond hearings
Body Date Action Description Com Leg Involved ______ ________ _______________________________________ _______ ____________ ------ 19980707 Act No. A425 ------ 19980617 Unsigned, became law without signature of Governor ------ 19980610 Ratified R506 House 19980604 Concurred in Senate amendment, enrolled for ratification Senate 19980604 House amendments amended, returned to House with amendment House 19980604 Read third time, returned to Senate with amendment House 19980603 Amended, read second time House 19980603 Debate adjourned House 19980603 Amended House 19980602 Debate adjourned until Wednesday, 19980603 House 19980527 Committee report: Favorable with 25 HJ amendment House 19980416 Introduced, read first time, 25 HJ referred to Committee Senate 19980415 Amended, read third time, sent to House Senate 19980414 Read second time, ordered to third reading with notice of general amendments Senate 19980414 Committee amendment adopted Senate 19980318 Committee report: Favorable with 11 SJ amendment Senate 19970205 Introduced, read first time, 11 SJ referred to CommitteeView additional legislative information at the LPITS web site.
(A425, R506, S325)
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 22-5-510, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, RELATING TO THE BAILING OF PERSONS BY MAGISTRATES, SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT A PERSON CHARGED WITH A BAILABLE OFFENSE MUST HAVE A BOND HEARING WITHIN TWENTY-FOUR HOURS OF ARREST AND MUST BE RELEASED IN A REASONABLE TIME NOT TO EXCEED FOUR HOURS AFTER THE BOND IS DELIVERED TO THE INCARCERATING FACILITY; TO AMEND CHAPTER 53 OF TITLE 38, RELATING TO BAIL BONDSMEN AND RUNNERS, SO AS TO REVISE THE ACTIVITIES, OPERATIONS, AND REGULATION OF BAIL BONDSMEN, RUNNERS, AND SIMILAR PERSONS; AND TO REPEAL SECTIONS 17-15-70, 17-15-80, 17-15-90, 17-15-110, 17-15-120, 17-15-130, AND 17-15-150 RELATING TO BAIL AND RECOGNIZANCES.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
Bond hearings and release
SECTION 1. Section 22-5-510 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
Section 22-5-510. (A) Magistrates may admit to bail a person charged with an offense, the punishment of which is not death or imprisonment for life; provided, however, with respect to violent offenses as defined by the General Assembly pursuant to Section 15, Article I of the Constitution of South Carolina, magistrates may deny bail giving due weight to the evidence and to the nature and circumstances of the event. 'Violent offenses' as used in this section means the offenses contained in Section 16-1-60. If a person under lawful arrest on a charge not bailable is brought before a magistrate, the magistrate shall commit the person to jail. If the offense charged is bailable, the magistrate shall take recognizance with sufficient surety, if it is offered, in default whereof the person must be incarcerated.
(B) A person charged with a bailable offense must have a bond hearing within twenty-four hours of his arrest and must be released within a reasonable time, not to exceed four hours, after the bond is delivered to the incarcerating facility.
Bail bondsmen and runners
SECTION 2. Chapter 53 of Title 38 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:
Section 38-53-10. As used in this chapter:
(1) 'Accommodation bondsman' means a person who has reached the age of eighteen years, is a resident of this State, who, aside from love and affection and release of the person concerned, receives no consideration for action as surety, and who endorses the bail bond after providing satisfactory evidence of ownership, value, and marketability of real property to the extent necessary to reasonably satisfy the official taking bond that the real or personal property will in all respects be sufficient to assure that the full principal sum of the bond will be realized in the event of breach of the conditions of the bond. 'Consideration' as used in this item does not include the legal rights of a surety against a defendant by reason of breach of the conditions of a bail bond nor does it include collateral furnished to and securing the surety so long as the value of the surety's rights in the collateral does not exceed the defendant's liability to the surety by reason of a breach in the conditions of the bail bond.
(2) 'Bail bond' means an undertaking by the defendant to appear in court as required upon penalty of forfeiting bail to the State in a stated amount and may include an unsecured appearance bond, a premium-secured appearance bond, an appearance bond secured by a cash deposit of the full amount of the bond, an appearance bond secured by a mortgage, and an appearance bond secured by at least one surety.
(3) 'Bail bondsman' means a surety bondsman, professional bondsman, or an accommodation bondsman as defined in this chapter.
(4) 'Clerk of court', unless otherwise specified, means the clerk of the circuit court of the county in the state where the bondsman is currently writing or obligated on the majority of those bail bonds which he has written or on which he is obligated.
(5) 'Court', unless otherwise specified, means circuit, magistrate's, or municipal court.
(6) 'Insurer' means any domestic, foreign, or alien surety company which has qualified generally to transact surety business and specifically to transact bail bond business in this State.
(7) 'Obligor' means a principal or a surety on a bail bond.
(8) 'Principal' means a defendant or witness obligated to appear in court as required upon penalty of forfeiting bail under a bail bond.
(9) 'Professional bondsman' means any person who is approved and licensed under the provisions of this chapter and who pledges cash or approved securities with the clerk of court as security for bail bonds written in connection with a judicial proceeding and receives or is promised money or other things of value for the pledge.
(10) 'Runner' means a person employed by a bail bondsman for the purpose of assisting the bail bondsman in presenting the defendant in court when required, assisting in the apprehension and surrender of the defendant to the court, and keeping the defendant under necessary surveillance. 'Runner' does not include an attorney or a law enforcement officer assisting a bondsman.
(11) 'Surety' means one who, with the defendant, is liable for the amount of the bail bond upon forfeiture of bail.
(12) 'Surety bondsman' means any person who is approved by and licensed by the director or his designee as an insurance agent, appointed by an insurer by power of attorney to execute or countersign bail bonds for the insurer in connection with judicial proceedings, and receives or is promised money or other things of value for the execution or countersignature.
(13) 'Appropriate judge' means a magistrate, municipal, or circuit court judge who has jurisdiction over the defendant.
(14) 'Good cause' means the violation of a specific term of the bail bond not to include the nonpayment of fees.
Section 38-53-20. The director or his designee, clerks of court, and the State Law Enforcement Division have full power and authority to administer the provisions of this chapter for which they are charged with implementing. The director shall promulgate regulations to enforce the purposes and provisions of this chapter. The director may hire employees, examiners, investigators, and other assistants as he considers necessary and shall prescribe their duties.
Section 38-53-30. No undertaking is invalid, nor may any person be discharged from his undertaking, a forfeiture be stayed, the judgment on the undertaking be stayed, set aside, or reversed, nor the collection of the judgment be barred or defeated by reason of any defect, omission, or failure to note or record the default of any defendant or surety, because the undertaking was entered into on a Sunday or other holiday or because of any other irregularity, if it appears from the tenor of the undertaking that the official before whom it was entered into was legally authorized to take it and if the amount of bail was stated.
The liability of a person on an undertaking is not affected by reason of the lack of any qualifications, sufficiency, or competency provided in any other law in this State, by reason of any other agreement whether or not the agreement is expressed in the undertaking, or because the defendant has not joined in the undertaking.
Section 38-53-40. Each surety for the release of a person on bail must be qualified as:
(a) an insurer and represented by a surety bondsman;
(b) a professional bondsman; or
(c) an accommodation bondsman.
Section 38-53-50. (A) A surety desiring to be relieved on a bond for 'good cause' or the nonpayment of fees shall file with the court a motion to be relieved on the bond. A copy of the motion must be served upon the defendant, his attorney, and the solicitor's office. The court shall then schedule a hearing to determine if the surety should be relieved on the bond and advise all parties of the hearing date.
(B) If the circumstances warrant immediate incarceration of the defendant to prevent imminent violation of any one of the specific terms of the bail bond, or if the defendant has violated any one of the specific terms of the bond, the surety may take the defendant to the appropriate detention facility for holding until the court orders that the surety be relieved. The surety must immediately file with the detention facility and the court an affidavit stating the facts to support the surrender of the defendant for good cause or the nonpayment of fees. When the affidavit is filed with the court, the surety must also file a motion to be relieved on the bond pursuant to subsection (A). A surety who surrenders a defendant and files an affidavit which does not show good cause or the nonpayment of fees is subject to penalties imposed for perjury as provided for in Article 1, Chapter 9 of Title 16.
(C) After the surety has been relieved by order of the court, a new undertaking must be filed with the appropriate court in order to secure the re-release of the defendant. The undertaking must contain the same conditions included in the original bond unless the conditions have been changed by the court.
Section 38-53-60. For the purpose of surrendering the defendant, the surety may arrest him before the forfeiture of the undertaking or, by his written authority endorsed on a certified copy of the undertaking, may request any judicial officer to order the arrest of the defendant by the surety.
Section 38-53-70. If a defendant fails to appear at a court proceeding to which he has been summoned, the court must issue a bench warrant for the defendant. If the surety fails to surrender the defendant or place a hold on the defendant's release from incarceration, commitment, or institutionalization within thirty days of the issuance of the bench warrant, the bond shall be forfeited. At any time before execution is issued on a judgment of forfeiture against a defendant or his surety, the court may direct that the judgment be remitted in whole or in part, upon conditions as the court may impose, if it appears that justice requires the remission of part or all of the judgment. In making a determination as to remission of the judgment, the court shall consider the costs to the State or any county or municipality resulting from the necessity to continue or terminate the defendant's trial and the efforts of law enforcement officers or agencies to locate the defendant. The court in its discretion may permit the surety to pay the estreatment in installments for a period of up to six months. If at any time during the period in which installments are to be paid the defendant is surrendered to the appropriate detention facility and the surety complies with the re-commitment procedures, the surety shall be relieved of any further liability.
Section 38-53-80. No person may act in the capacity of a professional bondsman, surety bondsman, or runner or perform any of the functions, duties, or powers prescribed for professional or surety bondsmen or runners under the provisions of this chapter unless that person is qualified, except for an accommodation bondsman, licensed in accordance with the provisions of this chapter. No license may be issued to a professional bondsman, surety bondsman, or runner except as provided in this chapter.
The applicant shall apply for a license or renewal of a license on forms prepared and supplied by the director or his designee. The director or his designee may ask the applicant any questions, written or otherwise, relating to his qualifications, residence, prospective place of business, and any other inquiries which, in the opinion of the director or his designee, are necessary in order to protect the public and ascertain the qualifications of the applicant. The director or his designee shall request that the State Law Enforcement Division conduct any reasonable investigation relative to the determination of the applicant's fitness to be licensed or to continue to be licensed.
The failure of the applicant to secure approval of the director or his designee does not preclude him from applying as many times as he desires, but no application may be considered by the director or his designee within one year subsequent to the date upon which the director or his designee denied the applicant's last application.
Section 38-53-85. (A) An applicant for a license to work as a professional bondsman, surety bondsman, or runner must complete not less than twenty hours of education in subjects pertinent to the duties and responsibilities of a professional and surety bondsman or runner, including all laws and regulations related to being a professional or surety bondsman or runner. A written examination must be administered at the conclusion of the course work. Each applicant must pass the examination before he can be licensed.
Each person licensed as a professional bondsman, surety bondsman, or runner must complete annually not less than six hours of continuing education in subjects related to the duties and responsibilities of a professional and surety bondsman or runner before his license shall be renewed. The continuing education courses shall not include a written or oral examination. The six-hour annual requirement is in addition to the twenty-four hour continuing education requirement for surety insurance agents as required by Section 38-43-106.
(B) A person licensed as a professional bondsman, surety bondsman, or runner before the effective date of this section is not required to complete the requisite twenty hours of education but must complete six hours of continuing education courses in order to have his license renewed.
(C) The South Carolina Bail Agent's Association or any other group or association approved by the Department of Insurance to provide educational courses to bondsmen must establish an educational curriculum for bondsman licensure. The Department of Insurance must approve the courses offered and ensure that the courses meet the standards for education established by this section and the department. The requirement of course work for licensure is not satisfied by a mail order course. The department must also approve a written examination to be administered by all groups who provide educational courses to be administered at the conclusion of the twenty-hour course work.
(D) A person who falsely represents that he has met the educational requirements of this section is subject, after being afforded notice and an opportunity for a due process hearing by the Administrative Law Judge Division, to the penalty provided for in Section 38-53-340.
(E) The director shall establish rules and regulations for the effective administration of this section.
Section 38-53-90. Before a license is issued to an applicant permitting him to act as a professional bondsman or runner, the applicant shall furnish to the director or his designee a complete set of his fingerprints and a recent passport size full-face photograph. The applicant's fingerprints must be certified by an authorized law enforcement officer.
Before being issued the license, every applicant for a license as a professional bondsman, surety bondsman, or runner shall certify to the director that he:
(a) is eighteen years of age or older;
(b) is a resident of this State;
(c) is a person of good moral character and has not been convicted of a felony or any crime involving moral turpitude within the last ten years;
(d) has knowledge, training, or experience of sufficient duration and extent to satisfy reasonably the director or his designee that he possesses the competence necessary to fulfill the responsibilities of a licensee.
Section 38-53-100. (A) A license fee of four hundred dollars must be paid to the director or his designee with each application for a license as a professional bondsman. The director or his designee shall forward four hundred dollars to the State Treasurer to be placed in the general fund; however, of the four hundred dollars, two hundred dollars must be paid over to the director or his designee to offset the costs he incurs under the provisions of this chapter, and two hundred dollars must be paid over to the State Law Enforcement Division to offset the costs it may incur under the provisions of this chapter.
(B) A license fee of two hundred dollars must be paid to the director or his designee with each application for a license as a runner. The director or his designee shall forward two hundred dollars to the State Treasurer to be placed in the general fund; however, of the two hundred dollars, one hundred dollars must be paid over to the director or his designee to offset the costs he incurs under the provisions of this chapter, and one hundred dollars must be paid over to the State Law Enforcement Division to offset the costs it incurs under the provisions of this chapter.
(C) The director or his designee shall forward forty percent of all fees collected under subsections (A) and (B) of this section to the clerk of court of the county where the principal place of business of the bondsman or runner is located. The remaining sixty percent of collected fees must be forwarded to the State Treasurer to be placed in the general fund, of which one-third must be paid to the State Law Enforcement Division, and two-thirds must be paid to the director or his designee to offset expenses incurred under the provisions of this chapter.
(D) In addition to the fees herein provided, a professional or surety bondsman shall pay to the clerk of court of his home county the sum of one hundred fifty dollars annually for each licensee to be paid directly to and retained by the clerk. In addition, each bondsman and runner shall pay to any other county where he is doing business the sum of one hundred dollars to be paid to and retained by the clerk. The fee must be paid annually and directly to the clerk of court who shall deposit it in an account maintained by the clerk.
Section 38-53-110. In addition to the other requirements of this chapter, an applicant for a professional bondsman's license shall furnish annually a detailed financial statement under oath and in a form as the director or his designee may require. The statement is subject to the same examination as is prescribed by law for domestic insurance companies.
Section 38-53-120. In addition to the other requirements of this chapter, an applicant for a license to be a runner shall show affirmatively that:
(a) the applicant will be employed by only one bail bondsman who shall supervise the work of the applicant and is responsible for the runner's conduct in the bail bond business;
(b) the application is endorsed by the appointing bail bondsman who shall obligate himself in the application to supervise the runner's activities.
Section 38-53-140. All licenses issued pursuant to the provisions of this chapter expire annually on June thirtieth unless revoked or suspended prior to that time by the director or his designee or upon notice served upon the director or his designee that the employer of any runner has canceled the licensee's authority to act for the employer.
A renewal license must be issued by the director or his designee to a licensee who has met the continuing education requirements in Section 38-53-85(A) upon the payment of a renewal fee of two hundred dollars for runners and four hundred dollars for professional bondsmen, but the licensees are required in all other respects to comply with the provisions of this chapter. After the receipt of the licensee's application for renewal, the current license continues in effect until the renewal license is issued or denied for cause.
Section 38-53-150. (A) The director or his designee may deny, suspend, revoke, or refuse to renew any license issued under this chapter for any of the following causes:
(1) for any cause sufficient to deny issuance of the original license;
(2) violation of any laws of this State relating to bail in the course of dealings under the license issued to a bondsman or runner by the director or his designee;
(3) material misstatement, misrepresentation, or fraud in obtaining the license;
(4) misappropriation, conversion, or unlawful withholding of monies belonging to insurers or others and received in the conduct of business under the license;
(5) fraudulent or dishonest practices while conducting business as a licensee;
(6) conviction of a felony within the last ten years regardless of whether the conviction resulted from conduct in or related to the bail bond business;
(7) failure to comply with or violation of the provisions of this chapter or of any order of the director or his designee or regulation of the department;
(8) when in the judgment of the director or his designee the licensee has in the conduct of his affairs under the license demonstrated incompetency or untrustworthiness, that he is no longer in good faith carrying on the bail bond business, or that he is guilty of rebating, offering to rebate, or offering to divide the premiums received for the bond;
(9) for failing to pay any judgment or decree rendered on any forfeited undertaking in any court of competent jurisdiction;
(10) for charging or receiving as premium or compensation for the making of any deposit or bail bond any sum in excess of that permitted by this chapter;
(11) for requiring as a condition of his executing a bail bond that the defendant agree to engage the services of a specified attorney.
(B) The director or his designee, in lieu of revoking or suspending a license in accordance with the provisions of this chapter, in any one proceeding, by order, may require the licensee to pay to the director or his designee to be deposited in the general fund of the State a monetary penalty as provided in Section 38-2-10(2) for each offense. Upon failure of the licensee to pay the penalty within twenty days after the mailing of the order, postage prepaid, registered, and addressed to the last known place of business of the licensee, unless the order is stayed by an order of a court of competent jurisdiction, the director or his designee may revoke the license of the licensee or may suspend the license for a period as he determines.
(C) A professional or surety bondsman or runner whose license has been revoked cannot be issued another license for a period of one year and must meet all requirements under this chapter prior to relicensing by the department.
Section 38-53-160. No license may be refused, suspended, or revoked, or renewal refused, except on reasonable notice and opportunity to be heard afforded the person licensed or seeking renewal of the license. Any applicant for a license as a professional or surety bondsman or runner whose application has been denied or whose license has been suspended or revoked, or renewal of the license denied, has the right of appeal from the final order of the director or his designee to the Administrative Law Judge Division as provided by law.
Section 38-53-170. No bondsman or runner may:
(a) pay a fee or rebate or give or promise anything of value, directly or indirectly, to a jailer, law enforcement officer, committing magistrate, or any other person who has power to arrest or hold in custody, or to any public official or public employee in order to secure a settlement, compromise, remission, or reduction of the amount of any bail bond or the forfeiture of the bail bond, including the payment to the law enforcement officers, directly or indirectly, for the arrest or apprehension of a principal or principals who have caused a forfeiture;
(b) pay a fee or rebate or give anything of value to an attorney in bail bond matters, except in defense of any action on a bond;
(c) pay a fee or rebate or give or promise anything of value to the principal or anyone in his behalf;
(d) participate in the capacity of an attorney at a trial or hearing of one on whose bond he is surety, nor suggest or advise the employment of or name for employment any particular attorney to represent the principal;
(e) accept anything of value from a principal except the premium, which may not exceed fifteen percent of the face amount of the bond, with a minimum fee of twenty-five dollars. However, the bondsman is permitted to accept collateral security or other indemnity from the principal which must be returned upon final termination of liability on the bond. The bondsman shall identify who is paying the premium and shall represent that the collateral security or other indemnity has not been obtained from any person who has a greater interest in the principal's disappearance than appearance for trial. The collateral security or other indemnity required by the bondsman must be reasonable in relation to the amount of the bond;
(f) solicit business in any of the courts or on the premises of any of the courts of this State, in the office of any magistrate, or in or about any place where prisoners are confined. Law enforcement officers and jailers shall report any violations of this provision to the court. Any action taken pursuant to this provision resulting in a conviction, guilty plea, or plea of nolo contendere pursuant to Section 38-53-340 must be reported to the director or his designee by the court within thirty days;
(g) advise or assist the principal for the purpose of forfeiting bond.
Section 38-53-180. When a professional or surety bondsman accepts collateral, he shall give a written receipt for the collateral. This receipt shall give in detail a full description of the collateral received.
Section 38-53-190. No sheriff, deputy sheriff, other law enforcement officer, judicial official, attorney, parole officer, probation officer, jailer, assistant jailer, employee of any court of this State, or other public employee assigned to duties relating to the administration of the court may become a surety on a bail bond for any person. No person covered by this section may act as agent for any bonding company or professional bondsman, nor may he have an interest, directly or indirectly, in the financial affairs of any firm or corporation whose principal business is acting as bondsmen. Nothing in this section prohibits any person designated above from being a surety upon the bond of his spouse, parent, brother, sister, child, or descendant.
Section 38-53-200. A professional or surety bondsman may not sign or countersign blank bail bonds, nor may he give a power of attorney to, or otherwise authorize, anyone to countersign his name to bonds. Copies of all the powers of attorney and revocations of the powers of attorney issued by an insurer appointing surety bondsmen must be filed immediately with the department and the clerk of the circuit court of the county in the State where the bondsman giving the power of attorney is currently writing or is obligated on bail bonds.
Section 38-53-210. Each insurer appointing surety bondsmen, shall, prior to July first of each year, furnish the clerk of court a list of all surety bondsmen appointed by the insurer to write bail bonds on its behalf. Each insurer who subsequently appoints a surety bondsman in the State shall give notice of the appointment to the director or his designee and clerk of court of any county where the bondsman is doing business. All appointments are subject to the issuance of the proper insurance agent's license to the appointee.
An insurer terminating the appointment of a surety bondsman shall file written notice of the termination with the department, together with a statement that it has given or mailed notice to the surety bondsman and to the clerks of the circuit courts of the counties in the State where the insurer has been obligated on bail bonds through the agent within the past three years. Notice filed with the department shall state the reasons, if any, for termination. Information so furnished the director or his designee is privileged and may not be used as evidence in, or as the basis for, any action against the insurer or any of its representatives. All bonds written by a surety bondsman shall have attached the individual power of attorney in the amount of the bond.
Section 38-53-220. A professional or surety bondsman who discontinues writing bail bonds during the period for which he is licensed shall notify the clerks of the circuit courts with whom he is registered and return his license to the director or his designee for cancellation within thirty days after discontinuance.
Section 38-53-230. Every person licensed as a professional bondsman may appoint as runner any person who has been issued a runner's license. Each bondsman shall before July second of each year furnish to the clerk of court of each county where he is doing business and the director or his designee a list of all runners appointed by him. Each bondsman who, subsequent to the filing of this list, appoints additional persons as runners shall file written notice with the clerk of court of each county where he is doing business and the director or his designee of the appointment.
A bondsman terminating the appointment of a runner shall file written notice of the termination with the clerk of court and the director or his designee together with a statement that he has given or mailed notice to the runner. Notice filed with the clerk of court and the director or his designee shall state the reasons, if any, for termination. Information so furnished the director or his designee is privileged and may not be used as evidence in any action against the bondsman.
Section 38-53-240. If money or bonds have been deposited, bail by sureties may be substituted for deposit at any time before a breach of the undertaking by filing a new undertaking with the court executed by the defendant and the sureties. The official taking the new bail shall make an order that the money or bonds be refunded to the person depositing them. They must be refunded accordingly, and the original undertakings must be canceled.
Section 38-53-250. When the defendant has been admitted to bail, he, or another in his behalf, may deposit with an official authorized to take bail a sum of money or nonregistered bonds of the United States, of the State, or of any county, city, or town within the State, equal in market value to the amount of the bail, together with his personal undertaking, and an undertaking of any other person, if the money or bonds are deposited by that person. Upon delivery to the official, in whose custody the defendant is, of a certificate of deposit, he must be discharged from custody.
When bail other than a deposit of money or bonds has been given, the defendant or the surety may, at any time before a breach of the undertaking, deposit the sum mentioned in the undertaking, and, upon deposit being made, accompanied by a new undertaking, the original undertaking is canceled.
Section 38-53-260. No professional or surety bondsman may become a surety on an undertaking unless he has registered his current license in the office of the clerk of the circuit court in the county in which he resides and registered a certified copy of the license with the clerk of the circuit court in any other county in which he writes bail bonds.
A surety bondsman shall also annually register a certified copy of his current power of appointment with the clerk of the circuit court where he resides and in any other county where he writes bail bonds on behalf of an insurer.
Section 38-53-270. Each professional bondsman acting as surety on bail bonds in this State shall maintain security deposits with the clerk of court of the county in which the bondsman has his primary place of business equal to at least one-fourth of the amount of all bonds or undertakings written in this State on which he is absolutely or conditionally liable as of the first day of the current month. A minimum of ten thousand dollars of this collateral shall be in the form of cash deposited with the clerk of court or certificates of deposit pledged to the clerk of court. Any remaining collateral shall be pledges of real estate, the value of which shall be based upon the appraised value by the county tax assessor. The real estate shall be free and clear of any encumbrances based upon a title opinion furnished to the clerk of court by the bondsman.
Section 38-53-280. The securities deposited by a professional bondsman with the clerk of court must be held in trust for the sole protection and benefit of the holder of bail bonds executed by or on behalf of the undersigned bondsman in this State. A pro rata portion of the securities must be returned to the bondsman when the clerk of court is satisfied that the deposit of securities is in excess of the amount required to be maintained with him by the bondsman. All the securities must be returned if the clerk of court is satisfied that the bondsman has satisfied, or satisfactory arrangements have been made to satisfy, the obligations of the bondsman on all of his bail bonds written in the State. The clerk of court may sell or transfer any of the securities or utilize the proceeds of the securities for the purpose of satisfying the liabilities of the professional bondsman on bail bonds given in this State on which he is liable.
Section 38-53-290. With the securities deposited with the clerk of court, the professional bondsman shall at the same time deliver to the clerk of court a power of attorney on a form supplied by the clerk of court, executed and acknowledged by the professional bondsman, authorizing the sale or transfer of the securities or any part of the securities. The power of attorney must read as follows:
'Know all men by these presents that I, , a professional bondsman, located in the County of , in the State of , do authorize and appoint for myself and my successors, heirs, and assigns the clerk of court of this county, in the name and in behalf of myself as professional bondsman, my attorney to sell or transfer any securities deposited or that may be deposited by me as professional bondsman with the clerk of court, under the laws and regulations requiring a deposit of securities to be made by professional bondsmen doing business in the State of South Carolina if the sale or transfer is considered necessary by the clerk of court to pay any liability arising under a bond which purports to be given by the undersigned bondsman in any county in this State, and execution has been issued against me as bondsman pursuant to a judgment on the bond, and the judgment has not been satisfied. The securities so deposited are to be held in trust by the clerk of court for the sole protection and benefit of the holder of bail bonds executed by or on behalf of the undersigned bondsman.'
In witness whereof, I have set my hand and affixed my seal this day of , 19 .
My commission expires:
Section 38-53-300. A professional bondsman whose security deposits with the clerk of court are reduced in value below the requirements of Section 38-53-270 shall, immediately upon notice of the deficiency, pledge with the court the additional collateral necessary to comply with Section 38-53-270. No professional bondsman may sign, endorse, execute, or become a surety on any additional bail bonds in any county in this State until he has made the additional deposit of securities as required by the notice of deficiency. The clerk of court has the authority to suspend bonding privileges until the bondsman complies with Section 38-53-270. If the bondsman has any outstanding forfeitures including, but not limited to, license fees and bond estreatments, the clerk of court has the authority to suspend bonding privileges until the bondsman complies with this section. The clerk shall immediately notify all parties who were originally notified of the suspension of the bondsman's compliance with this section.
Section 38-53-310. Each professional bondsman shall by the fifteenth of each month file with the clerk of court of the county of his principal place of business and any other county where he is doing business a written report in a form prescribed by the director or his designee regarding all bail bonds on which he is liable as of the first day of each month showing:
(a) each individual bonded;
(b) the date the bond was given;
(c) the principal sum of the bond;
(d) the state or local official with whom the bond was filed;
(e) the fee charged for the bonding service in each instance; and
(f) all pending bonds.
Section 38-53-320. Whenever the director or his designee considers it necessary, he shall visit and examine or cause to be visited and examined by some competent person appointed by him for that purpose any professional bondsman subject to the provisions of this chapter. For this purpose, the director or his designee or person making the examination has free access to all books and papers of the bondsman that relate to his business and to the books and papers kept by any of his agents or runners.
Section 38-53-330. No professional bondsman may act as a surety on any bail bond whose principal sum is in excess of one-half of the value of the securities deposited with the clerk of court at that time.
Section 38-53-340. A person violating any of the provisions of this chapter is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned for not more than thirty days, or both."
SECTION 3. Sections 17-15-70, 17-15-80, 17-15-90, 17-15-110, 17-15-120, 17-15-130, and 17-15-150 of the 1976 Code are repealed.
SECTION 4. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.
Became law without the signature of the Governor -- 06/17/98.