2004 Regular Session
To: Judiciary B
By: Representative Stevens
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 83-39-7, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REVISE PROCEDURES CONCERNING THE REVOCATION OR SUSPENSION OF THE LICENSE OF A PROFESSIONAL BAIL AGENT; TO AMEND SECTION 83-39-15, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REVISE THE GROUNDS FOR THE DENIAL, SUSPENSION, REVOCATION OR REFUSAL TO RENEW THE LICENSE OF A PROFESSIONAL BAIL AGENT, SOLICITING BAIL AGENT OR BAIL ENFORCEMENT AGENT; TO AMEND SECTION 83-39-3, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO AUTHORIZE THE DEPARTMENT OF INSURANCE TO FORWARD A BAIL AGENT APPLICANT'S FINGERPRINTS TO THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY AND THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION FOR A CRIMINAL HISTORY CHECK; TO AMEND SECTION 83-39-5, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE CERTAIN INFORMATION TO BE PLACED ON THE APPLICATION FOR A BAIL AGENT'S LICENSE; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 83-39-7, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
83-39-7. (1) Each applicant for a professional bail agent license who acts as personal surety shall be required to post a qualification bond in the amount of Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000.00) with the department. The qualification bond shall be made by depositing with the commissioner the aforesaid amount of bonds of the United States, State of Mississippi, or any agency or subdivision thereof, or shall be written by an insurer as defined in this chapter, shall meet the specifications as may be required and defined in this chapter, and shall meet such specifications as may be required and approved by the department. The bond shall be conditioned upon the full and prompt payment of any bail bond issued by such professional bail agent into the court ordering the bond forfeited. The bond shall be to the people of the State of Mississippi in favor of any court of this state, whether municipal, justice, county, circuit, Supreme or other court.
(2) If any bail bond written by a professional bail agent is declared forfeited and judgment entered thereon by a court of proper jurisdiction as authorized in Section 99-5-25, and the amount of the bond is not paid within ninety (90) days, that court shall order the department to revoke the license of the professional bail agent and, if the professional bail agent acts as a personal surety, to declare the qualification bond * * * to be forfeited * * *. If the bail bond is not forfeited correctly under Section 99-5-25, the professional bail agent shall seek timely judicial review of such forfeiture with the court of proper jurisdiction.
(3) Upon notice from the court of proper jurisdiction of an order of revocation, the department shall, after hearing held upon not less than twenty (20) days' written notice, revoke the license of the professional bail agent and, if the professional bail agent acts as a personal surety, declare the qualification bond to be forfeited. Any action by the department shall be stayed upon the professional bail agent's obtaining judicial review in accordance with subsection (2) of this section.
(4) The revocation or suspension of the license of the professional bail agent shall also serve to revoke or suspend the license of each soliciting bail agent and bail enforcement agent employed or used by such professional bail agent.
(5) In the event of a final judgment of forfeiture of any bail bond written under the provisions of this chapter, the amount of money so forfeited by the final judgment of the proper court, less all accrued court costs and excluding any interest charges or attorney's fees, shall be refunded to the bail agent or his insurance company upon proper showing to the court as to which is entitled to same, provided the defendant in such cases is returned to the sheriff of the county to which the original bail bond was returnable within twelve (12) months of the date of such final judgment, or proof made of incarceration of the defendant in another jurisdiction, and that a "Hold Order" has been placed upon the defendant for return of the defendant to the sheriff upon release from the other jurisdiction, the return to the sheriff to be the responsibility of the professional bail agent as provided in subsection (6) of this section, then the bond forfeiture shall be stayed and remission made upon petition to the court, in the amount found in the court's discretion to be just and proper. A bail agent licensed under this chapter shall have a right to apply for and obtain from the proper court an extension of time delaying a final judgment of forfeiture if such bail agent can satisfactorily establish to the court wherein such forfeiture is pending that the defendant named in the bail bond is lawfully in custody outside of the State of Mississippi.
(6) The professional bail agent shall satisfy the responsibility to return the defendant who has been held by a "Hold Order" in another jurisdiction upon release from the other jurisdiction:
(a) By personally returning the defendant to the sheriff at no cost to the county; or
(b) Where the other jurisdiction will not release the defendant to any person other than a law enforcement officer, by reimbursing to the county the reasonable cost of the return of the defendant, not to exceed the cost that would be entailed if the option in paragraph (a) of this subsection were available.
SECTION 2. Section 83-39-15, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
83-39-15. (1) The department may deny, suspend, revoke or refuse to renew, as may be appropriate, the license of any person engaged in the business of professional bail agent, soliciting bail agent, or bail enforcement agent for any of the following reasons:
(a) Any cause for which the issuance of the license would have been refused had it then existed and been known to the department.
(b) Failure to post a qualification bond in the required amount with the department during the period the person is engaged in the business within this state or, if the bond has been posted, the forfeiture or cancellation of the bond.
(c) Material misstatement, misrepresentation or fraud in obtaining the license.
(d) Willful failure to comply with, or willful violation of, any provision of this chapter or of any proper order, rule or regulation of the department or any court of this state.
(e) Conviction of felony or crime involving moral turpitude.
(f) Default in payment to the court should any bond issued by such bail agent be forfeited by order of the court.
(g) Being elected or employed as a law enforcement or judicial official.
(h) Engaging in the practice of law.
(i) Writing a bond for a person arrested by a spouse or the law enforcement entity which a spouse serves as a law enforcement official or employee.
(j) Giving legal advice or a legal opinion in any form.
(k) Using fraudulent, coercive or dishonest practices or demonstrating incompetence, untrustworthiness or financial irresponsibility of business in this state or elsewhere.
(2) In addition to the grounds specified in subsection (1) of this section, the department shall be authorized to suspend the license, registration or permit of any person for being out of compliance with an order for support, as defined in Section 93-11-153. The procedure for suspension of a license, registration or permit for being out of compliance with an order for support, and the procedure for the reissuance or reinstatement of a license, registration or permit suspended for that purpose, and the payment of any fees for the reissuance or reinstatement of a license, registration or permit suspended for that purpose, shall be governed by Section 93-11-157 or 93-11-163, as the case may be. If there is any conflict between any provision of Section 93-11-157 or 93-11-163 and any provision of this chapter, the provisions of Section 93-11-157 or 93-11-163, as the case may be, shall control.
(3) No person whose license has been revoked hereunder shall be entitled to file another application for a license as a bail agent within one (1) year from the effective date of such revocation or, if judicial review of such revocation is sought, within one (1) year from the date of final court order or decree affirming such revocation. This subsection shall not apply to a soliciting bail agent or bail enforcement agent whose license is revoked due solely to the revocation of the professional bail agent whom the soliciting bail agent or bail enforcement agent operates under.
SECTION 3. Section 83-39-3, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
83-39-3. (1) No person shall act in the capacity of professional bail agent, soliciting bail agent or bail enforcement agent, as defined in Section 83-39-1, or perform any of the functions, duties or powers of the same unless that person shall be qualified and licensed as provided in this chapter. The terms of this chapter shall not apply to any automobile club or association, financial institution, insurance company or other organization or association or their employees who execute bail bonds on violations arising out of the use of a motor vehicle by their members, policyholders or borrowers when bail bond is not the principal benefit of membership, the policy of insurance or of a loan to such member, policyholder or borrower.
(2) (a) No license shall be issued except in compliance with this chapter, and none shall be issued except to an individual. No firm, partnership, association or corporation, as such, shall be so licensed. No professional bail agent shall operate under more than one (1) trade name. A soliciting bail agent and bail enforcement agent shall operate only under the professional bail agent's name. A soliciting bail agent shall be employed by only one (1) professional bail agent. No person who has ever been convicted of a felony or any crime involving moral turpitude, or who has not been a resident of this state for at least one (1) year, unless presently licensed for bail bonds, or who is under twenty-one (21) years of age, shall be issued a license hereunder. No person engaged as a law enforcement or judicial official or attorney shall be licensed hereunder.
(b) (i) No person who is a spouse of: 1. a county or municipal law enforcement official; 2. an employee of a county or municipal law enforcement official; or 3. an employee of a law enforcement entity shall write a bond for a person arrested by the spouse or the law enforcement entity which the person's spouse serves as a law enforcement official or employee; violation of this prohibition shall result in license revocation.
(ii) No person licensed under this chapter shall act as a personal surety agent in the writing of bail during a period he or she is licensed as a limited surety agent, as defined herein.
(iii) No person licensed under this chapter shall give legal advice or a legal opinion in any form.
(3) (a) The department is vested with the authority to enforce this chapter. The department may conduct investigations or request other state, county or local officials to conduct investigations and promulgate such rules and regulations as may be necessary for the enforcement of this chapter. The department may establish monetary fines and collect such fines as necessary for the enforcement of such rules and regulations. All fines collected shall be deposited in the Special Insurance Department Fund for the operation of that agency.
(b) In order to assist the department in determining an applicant's suitability for a license under this chapter, the department shall forward the fingerprints submitted with the application to the Department of Public Safety for use by that agency in conducting a criminal history check; if no disqualifying record is identified at the state level, the fingerprints shall be forwarded by the Department of Public Safety to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for a national criminal history record check. Fees related to the criminal history record check shall be paid by the applicant to the commissioner and the monies from such fees shall be deposited in the special fund in the State Treasury designated as the "Insurance Department Fund."
(4) Each license issued hereunder shall expire annually on the last day of May, unless revoked or suspended prior thereto by the department, or upon notice served upon the commissioner by the insurer that the authority of a limited surety agent to act for or in behalf of such insurer had been terminated, or upon notice served upon the commissioner by a professional bail agent that the employment of a soliciting bail agent or bail enforcement agent had been terminated by such professional bail agent.
(5) The department shall prepare and deliver to each licensee a certificate showing the name, address and classification of such licensee, and shall certify that the person is a licensed professional bail agent, being either a personal surety agent or a limited surety agent, a soliciting bail agent or a bail enforcement agent. In addition, the certificate, if for a soliciting bail agent or bail enforcement agent, shall show the name of the professional bail agent and any other information as the commissioner deems proper.
(6) The commissioner, after a hearing under Section 83-39-17, may refuse to issue a privilege license for a soliciting bail agent to change from one professional bail agent to another if he owes any premium or debt to the professional bail agent with whom he is currently licensed.
(7) From and after May 1, 2000, prior to the issuance of any professional bail agent, soliciting bail agent or bail enforcement agent license, the applicant shall submit proof of completion of eight (8) hours of prelicensing education approved by the department and the Professional Bail Agents Association of Mississippi, Inc., and conducted by the Mississippi Judicial College or any institution of higher learning or community college located within the State of Mississippi.
(8) From and after May 1, 2000, prior to the renewal of any professional bail agent, soliciting bail agent or bail enforcement agent license, the applicant shall submit proof of completion of eight (8) hours of continuing education approved by the department and the Professional Bail Agents Association of Mississippi, Inc., and provided by the Mississippi Judicial College or any institution of higher learning or community college located within the State of Mississippi.
SECTION 4. Section 83-39-5, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
83-39-5. Any person desiring to engage in the business of professional bail agent, soliciting bail agent, or bail enforcement agent in this state shall apply to the department for a license on forms prepared and furnished by the department. The application for a license, or renewal thereof, shall set forth, under oath, the following information:
(a) Full name, age, date of birth, social security number, residence during the previous five (5) years, occupation and business address for the previous five (5) years of the applicant.
(b) Spouse's full name, occupation and business address.
(c) A photograph of the applicant and a full set of fingerprints.
(d) A statement that he is not licensed to practice law in the State of Mississippi or any other state and that no attorney or any convicted felon has any interest in his application, either directly or indirectly.
(e) Any other information as may be required by this chapter or by the department.
(f) In the case of a professional bail agent, a statement that he will actively engage in the bail bond business.
(g) In the case of a soliciting bail agent, a statement that he will be employed or used by only one (1) professional bail agent and that the professional bail agent will supervise his work and be responsible for his conduct in his work. A professional bail agent shall sign the application of each soliciting bail agent employed or used by him.
Each application or filing made under this section shall include the social security number(s) of the applicant in accordance with Section 93-11-64, Mississippi Code of 1972.
SECTION 5. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2004.