ASSEMBLY, No. 3233

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

217th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED FEBRUARY 22, 2016

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman  RONALD S. DANCER

District 12 (Burlington, Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Governs premium for executing bail bonds, per SCI recommendations.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning payment of bail and supplementing Title 17 of the Revised Statutes. 

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    Except as provided in section 2 of this act, a bail agent, bail agency, or surety company shall not execute a bail bond for the release from custody or incarceration of a defendant charged with a crime of the first through fourth degree without collecting a minimum of 10 percent of the face amount of the bail bond as the premium for executing the bail bond. 

     The premium for executing the bond shall be paid prior to or at the time of filing the bail bond.  At the time the bail bond is posted, the bail agent or agency which executes the bail bond shall attest in writing to the appropriate court, or other agency authorized to accept bail bonds, that the 10 percent fee required by this subsection has been collected. 

 

     2.    Notwithstanding the provisions of section 1 of this act, a bail agent, bail agency, or surety company may charge a premium in an amount less than 10 percent of the face value of the bail bond if the court finds that compelling circumstances warrant a reduced premium.  The amount of the reduced premium under this subsection shall be disclosed to the court. 

 

     3.    If the court finds that a defendant does not have the ability to pay the premium for executing a bail bond pursuant to sections 1 or 2 of this act, the court may authorize the payment of the premium to the bail agent, bail agency, or surety company in installments.  The bail of a defendant who fails to make the required installment payments shall be forfeited.  The terms and conditions of the installment payment plan shall be disclosed to the court and the appropriate law enforcement authorities.  Nothing in this subsection shall preclude the court from ordering a reduction in bail pursuant to court rules. 

 

     4.    If the commissioner determines, after notice and an opportunity for a hearing, that a bail agent or bail agency is in violation of this section, the authority of the agent or agency to negotiate, solicit or sell bail bonds, or be affiliated in any manner with the execution of bail bonds, shall be suspended for 90 days for a first violation, 180 days for a second violation, and one year for a third violation. For any subsequent violation, the insurance producer license of the bail agent or agency shall be permanently revoked.  

 

     5.    Nothing in this act shall interfere with the presumption in favor of the court designating the posting of full United States currency cash bail for defendants charged with a crime with bail restrictions pursuant to subsection c. of section 1 of P.L.1994, c.144 (C.2A:162-12). 

 

     6.    This act shall take effect on the first day of the sixth month following enactment. 

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill requires bail agents, bail agencies, and surety companies to charge and collect a premium of at least 10 percent of the face value of a bail bond from a defendant who is charged with a criminal offense in this State. 

     The bill makes an exception to the required 10 percent bail bond premium if a judge finds that compelling circumstances warrant a reduced premium.  The bill requires that the amount of the reduced premium be disclosed to the court. 

     The bill authorizes installment payment plans for defendants who do not have the ability to pay the premium for executing a bail bond.  Under the bill, the bail of a defendant who fails to make the required installment payments will be forfeited.  The bill requires the terms and conditions of an installment payment plan to be disclosed to the court and to appropriate law enforcement authorities. 

     The Commissioner of Banking and Insurance may suspend or revoke the authority of any bail agent or agency to solicit or sell bail bonds in this State if the agent or agency violates the bill’s provisions. Under the bill, a period of license suspension of 90 days for a first violation will be imposed, 180 days for a second violation, and one year for a third violation. For a fourth or subsequent violation, the insurance producer license of the bail agent or agency is to be permanently revoked. 

     This bill implements a recommendation by the State of New Jersey Commission of Investigation in its May 2014 report entitled, “Inside Out: Questionable and Abusive Practices in New Jersey’s Bail-Bond Industry.”