South Carolina General Assembly
125th Session, 2023-2024

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S. 367

STATUS INFORMATION

General Bill
Sponsors: Senators Adams, M. Johnson, Kimbrell, Garrett, Rice, Harpootlian, Cash, Senn and Cromer
Document Path: SJ-0009BM23.docx

Introduced in the Senate on January 10, 2023
Currently residing in the Senate

Summary: Bonds and Electronic Monitoring

HISTORY OF LEGISLATIVE ACTIONS

Date Body Action Description with journal page number
1/10/2023 Senate Introduced and read first time (Senate Journal-page 209)
1/10/2023 Senate Referred to Committee on Judiciary (Senate Journal-page 209)
1/12/2023 Senate Referred to Subcommittee: Malloy (ch), Sabb, Adams, Garrett, Gustafson

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VERSIONS OF THIS BILL

1/10/2023



A bill

TO AMEND THE SOUTH CAROLINA CODE OF LAWS BY AMENDING SECTION 17-15-20, RELATING TO CONDITIONS OF APPEARANCE RECOGNIZANCE OR APPEARANCE BOND; DISCHARGE, VALIDITY, RELIEF OF SURETY, SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT AN APPEARANCE BOND SHALL AUTOMATICALLY CONVERT TO A PERSONAL RECOGNIZANCE BOND AFTER THREE YEARS FOR A CIRCUIT COURT OFFENSE AND AFTER EIGHTEEN MONTHs FOR A MAGISTRATE'S OR MUNICIPAL COURT OFFENSE; BY AMENDING SECTION 17-15-30, RELATING TO MATTERS TO BE CONSIDERED IN DETERMINING CONDITIONS OF RELEASE, TO PROVIDE THAT THE COURT MUST CONSIDER A DEFENDANT'S PRIOR CHARGES AND EXISTING BONDS WHEN DETERMINING BOND; BY AMENDING SECTION 38-53-10 TO ESTABLISH A DEFINITION FOR ELECTRONIC MONITORING; BY AMENDING SECTION 38-53-50, RELATING TO SURETY RELIEVED ON BOND, TO PROVIDE THAT FAILURE TO PAY PREMIUM FEES ALONE IS NOT SUFFICIENT REASON TO WARRANT IMMEDIATE INCARCERATION OF THE DEFENDANT; BY AMENDING SECTION 38-53-70, RELATING TO ISSUANCE OF BENCH WARRANT, TO PROVIDE THAT THE COURT MUST NOTIFY THE BONDSMAN WITHIN THIRTY DAYS OF the ISSUANCE OF A BENCH WARRANT; BY ADDING SECTION 38-53-83 TO PROVIDE THAT ONLY a QUALIFIED AND LICENSED BONDSMAN OR RUNNER may engage in electronic monitoring of a defendant; BY ADDING SECTION 38-53-84 TO PROVIDE THAT A PERSON ENGAGED IN THE ELECTRONIC MONITORING OF A DEFENDANT MUST NOTIFY THE SOLICITOR WITHIN FORTY-EIGHT HOURS OF ANY VIOLATION OF A CONDITION OF THE BOND BY THE DEFENDANT AND TO PROVIDE THAT FAILURE TO PAY THE MONITORING FEES IS A REVOKABLE CONDITION OF THE BOND; BY AMENDING SECTION 38-53-170, RELATING TO UNLAWFUL ACTS BY A BONDsMAN, TO PROVIDE CONDITIONS FOR THE PAYMENT AND COLLECTION OF PREMIUMS, FEES, AND COLLATERAL; AND BY AMENDING SECTION 38-53-310, RELATING TO WRITTEN REPORT TO BE FILED WITH CLERK OF COURT, TO PROVIDE THAT A BONDsMAN MUST PROVIDE A WRITTEN REPORT TO THEIR INSURANCE PROVIDER WITHIN THIRTY DAYS OF EACH BOND, AND TO PROVIDE THAT the requirement for monthly REPORTS TO THE CLERK OF COURT MAY BE SATISFIED WITH GIVING THE CLERK ACCESS TO AN ELECTRONIC DATABASE THAT CONTAINS THE REQUIRED INFORMATION.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:

SECTION 1.   Section 17-15-20 of the S.C. Code is amended to read:

   Section 17-15-20.   (A) An appearance recognizance or appearance bond must be conditioned on the person charged personally appearing before the court specified to answer the charge or indictment and to do and receive what is enjoined by the court, and not to leave the State, and be of good behavior toward all the citizens of the State, or especially toward a person or persons specified by the court.

   (B) Unless a bench warrant is issued, an appearance recognizance or an appearance bond is discharged upon adjudication, a finding of guilt, a deferred disposition, or as otherwise provided by law. An appearance bond is valid for a period of three years from the date the bond is executed for a charge triable in circuit court and eighteen months from the date the bond is executed for a charge triable in magistrates or municipal court, to be referred to as the statutory bail bond discharge period. In order for the surety to be relieved of liability on the appearance bond when the time period has run, the surety must provide sixty days written notice to the solicitor, when appropriate, and the respective clerk of court, chief magistrate, or municipal court judge with jurisdiction over the offense of the surety's intent to assert that the person is no longer subject to a valid appearance bond. If the appropriate court determines the person has substantially complied with his court obligations and the solicitor does not object within the required sixty days by demanding a hearing, the court shall order At the expiration of the statutory bail bond discharge period, the appearance bond converted shall automatically convert to a personal recognizance bond and the surety relieved of liability.

SECTION 2.   Section 17-15-30(B) of the S.C. Code is amended to read:

   (B) A court shall must consider:

      (1) a person's criminal record;

      (2) any prior charges, and existing bonds on prior charges, pending against a person at the time release is requested;

      (3) all incident reports generated as a result of an offense charged;

      (4) whether a person is an alien unlawfully present in the United States, and poses a substantial flight risk due to this status; and

      (5) whether the charged person appears in the state gang database maintained at the State Law Enforcement Division.

SECTION 3.   Section 38-53-10 of the S.C. Code is amended by adding

   (15) "Electronic monitoring" means monitoring a person by the use of a device which records or transmits oral or wire communications or an auditory sound, visual images, or information regarding the person's activities.

SECTION 4.   Section 38-53-50(B) of the S.C. Code is amended to read:

   (B) If the circumstances warrant immediate incarceration of the defendant to prevent imminent violation of one of the specific terms of the bail bond, or if the defendant has violated 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, within three business days following recommitment, must file with the detention facility and the court an affidavit clocked in with the clerk of court on a form provided by the Division of Court Administration stating the facts to support the surrender of the defendant for good cause. Nonpayment of premium fees alone is not sufficient cause to warrant immediate incarceration of the defendant. When the defendant and the affidavit are presented at the appropriate detention facility, the facility shall take custody of the defendant. When the affidavit is filed with the court, the surety also shall 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 is subject to penalties imposed for perjury as provided for in Article 1, Chapter 9, Title 16.

SECTION 5.   Section 38-53-70 of the S.C. Code is amended to read:

   Section 38-53-70.   If a defendant fails to appear at a court proceeding to which he has been summoned violates the conditions of release on bond, the court shall issue a bench warrant for the defendant. The court shall make available for pickup by the surety or the representative of the surety who executed the bond on their behalf, a true copy provide written or electronic notice of the issuance of the bench warrant within seven thirty days of its issuance at the clerk of court's office to every party bound in the recognizance. If the surety fails to surrender the defendant or place a hold on the defendant's release from incarceration, commitment, or institutionalization within ninety days of the issuance of the bench warrant, the bond is 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 a 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; however, the surety shall pay a handling fee to the court in an amount equal to four percent of the value of the bond. 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 recommitment procedures, the surety is relieved of further liability.

SECTION 6.   Chapter 53, Title 38 of the S.C. Code is amended by adding:

   Section 38-53-83.   No person may engage in electronic monitoring of a defendant released by a court of competent jurisdiction pursuant to a bail bond unless that person is qualified and licensed as a professional bondsman, surety bondsman, or runner pursuant to the provisions of this chapter. This section does not apply to any agent or agency of the State, any agent or agency of any county or municipal government in South Carolina, or any agent or agency, department, or division of the federal government.

SECTION 7.   Chapter 53, Title 38 of the S.C. Code is amended by adding:

   Section 38-53-84.   (A) A person engaged in electronic monitoring of a defendant must, within forty-eight hours, notify the solicitor having jurisdiction over the defendant when he becomes aware or should have become aware that the defendant has violated any provision of the court's order for electronic monitoring. Failure of a defendant to timely pay the bondsman the full monthly electronic monitoring fee associated with the cost of the electronic monitoring device and the associated cost of the monitoring service, shall, in and of itself, constitute good cause for the bondsman to file a motion to be relieved on the bond and to surrender the defendant to the custody of the appropriate detention facility pursuant to Section 38-53-50.

   (B) Failure of the bondsman to maintain compliance with the reporting requirement of subsection (A) shall be reported to the South Carolina Department of Insurance by the solicitor for administrative action whereby the bondsman's license may be fined, suspended, or revoked.

SECTION 8.   Section 38-53-170 of the S.C. Code is amended to read:

   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 one hundred dollars or ten percent of the bond, whichever is greater, that must be charged and collected by the bondsman before the execution of the bond. Conditions of the bond which expressly or implicitly require payment of monies in excess of the premium, as a cost of satisfying the condition of the bond, shall not be considered part of the bondsman's premium, and are not affected by this code provision. The bondsman may collect these fees from the defendant and is not limited by any language requirements of this code provision.

   However, the bondsman is permitted to enter into a payment agreement by attaching a statement of bondsman to the bond proceeding form and this agreement shall require the principal on the bail bond or any indemnitor to make a minimum down payment of one hundred dollars or five percent, whichever is greater, of the face amount of the bond. This payment agreement may not be altered and must not exceed eighteen months after the date on which the bond was executed. If the payment has not been made for two consecutive months, the bondsman must send a certified notice to the last known address of the principal and indemnitor demanding payment be made within ten days to bring the agreement current. If no payment is received by the end of the notice period, the bondsman must surrender the principal to the proper detention facility for holding and file a motion to be relieved as provided in Section 38-53-50(A) or (B), at which time the agreement must be accelerated, and the balance paid in full, before or at the motion hearing for the principal to be rereleased on bond. The bondsman may accept collateral security or other indemnity from the principal which must be returned upon within ten days after final termination of liability on the bond unless a bench warrant has been issued. 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. If the bond is forfeited, a bondsman may not convert collateral described in the collateral receipt to cash until he has provided a ten-day notice of this pending conversion to the depositor. This notice must be sent by certified mail to the last known address of the depositor. After the conversion, the bondsman must disclose the actual amount received to the depositor and must return any amount received that exceed the final judgment or consent amount, less any reasonable expenses. These reasonable expenses include apprehension and legal costs incurred as a result of the violation of the bond. The bondsman must provide the depositor copies of all receipts and, if applicable, the overage money within three days after settlement;

   (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; or

   (g) advise or assist the principal for the purpose of forfeiting bond.

SECTION 9.   Section 38-53-310 of the S.C. Code is amended to read:

   Section 38-53-310.   (A) 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:.

   (B) Each surety bondsman shall, within thirty days of executing a bail bond, file with their respective insurance provider a written or electronic report in a form approved by the director or his designee detailing all bail bonds on which he has caused to be executed.

   (C) The reports referenced in subsections (A) and (B) shall include the following:

      (a)(1) each individual bonded;

      (b)(2) the date the bond was given;

      (c)(3) the principal sum of the bond;

      (d)(4) the state or local official with whom the bond was filed;

      (e)(5) the fee charged for the bonding service in each instance; and

      (f)(6) all pending bonds; and

      (7)   any current data on monies to be collected and retained as an express condition of the bond, whether for electronic monitoring or otherwise.

   (D) In lieu of the monthly submission of a written report to the clerk of court, the bondsman may utilize a data management software system, which contains the above required current information, and is capable of providing the appropriate clerk of court or his designee with real-time access to the data management system through a portal, website, or other data access system through which the clerk of court can confirm he has access to the required information.

SECTION 10.   This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.

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