2007 Regular Session
To: Judiciary, Division B
By: Senator(s) Ross, Doxey
AN ACT TO CREATE SECTION 83-39-8, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO AUTHORIZE THE TRANSFER OF A QUALIFICATION BOND OF A PERSONAL SURETY AGENT; TO AMEND SECTION 83-39-25, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO ALLOW BAIL AGENTS TO HOLD COLLATERAL FOR BONDS; TO AMEND SECTION 83-39-3, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REVISE THE INDIVIDUAL LICENSE REQUIREMENTS; TO AMEND SECTION 83-39-5, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REVISE LICENSE PHOTOGRAPH AND FINGERPRINT REQUIREMENTS; TO AMEND SECTION 83-39-7, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REVISE THE QUALIFICATION BOND; TO AMEND SECTION 83-39-11, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REVISE THE LICENSE FEES; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. The following shall be codified as Section 83-39-8, Mississippi Code of 1972.
83-39-8. A personal surety agent licensed under this chapter or the executor, trustee or guardian of his estate shall be allowed to transfer the qualification bond required under Section 83-39-7 to another person, provided that person meets all requirements for a license under this chapter and assumes all outstanding liabilities of the personal surety agent. The transferee shall be authorized to conduct the business of the personal surety agent existing and pending at the time of the transferee. The transferee shall submit an application with the fee and proof of education required by Section 83-39-5, which application shall be processed expeditiously and with priority by the department.
SECTION 2. Section 83-39-25, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
83-39-25. (1) A professional bail agent or his agent shall charge and collect for his premium, commission, or fee an amount of ten percent (10%) of the amount of bail per bond posted by him, or Fifty Dollars ($50.00), whichever is greater, except on a bond on a defendant who is charged with a capital offense, or on a defendant who resides outside the State of Mississippi, in which case the premium, commission or fee shallbe fifteen percent (15%) of the amount of bail, per bond posted by him, or Fifty Dollars ($50.00), whichever is greater.
(2) A professional bail agent or his agent shall be allowed under this chapter to charge to the defendant no more than Fifty Dollars ($50.00) for expenses resulting from a bond of One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) or less when such bail agent is required to travel outside the county in which he does business.
(3) A professional bail agent or his agent shall also charge an additional Twenty-five Dollars ($25.00) processing fee on each bond issued by him.
(4) Nothing herein shall prohibit a professional bail agent or his agent from holding collateral or taking a security interest in collateral for the purpose of insuring the payment of the premium of the bond posted or indemnifying the professional bail agent for losses incurred due to a forfeiture of a bond or the costs of apprehension and surrender of the principal.
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. 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. A person who is employed in any capacity at any jail or corrections facility that houses state, county or municipal inmates who are bailable, whether the person is a public employee, independent contractor, or the employee of an independent contractor, may not be licensed under this section.
(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) 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.
(4) Each license issued hereunder shall expire biennially on the last day of September, 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. The commissioner, after a hearing under Section 83-39-17, may refuse to issue a license for a limited surety agent if he owes any premium or debt to an insurer to which he has been appointed.
(7) Before the issuance of any professional bail agent, soliciting bail agent or bail enforcement agent license, the applicant shall submit proof of successful completion of forty (40) classroom hours of prelicensing education approved by the Professional Bail Agents Association of Mississippi, Inc., and conducted by persons or entities approved by the Professional Bail Agents Association of Mississippi, Inc. The hours required by this subsection shall be classroom hours and may not be acquired through correspondence or over the Internet.
(8) Before the renewal of any professional bail agent, soliciting bail agent or bail enforcement agent license, the applicant shall submit proof of successful completion of eight (8) classroom hours of continuing education approved by * * * the Professional Bail Agents Association of Mississippi, Inc., and provided by persons or entities approved by the Professional Bail Agents Association of Mississippi, Inc. The hours required by this subsection shall be classroom hours and may not be acquired through correspondence or over the Internet.
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 of the applicant.
(b) Spouse's full name, occupation and business address.
(c) A photograph of the applicant and a full set of fingerprints for the initial application and, thereafter, as requested by the department.
(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. 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 * * * Thirty Thousand Dollars ($30,000.00). The qualification bond shall be made by depositing with the commissioner the aforesaid amount of bonds of the United States, the State of Mississippi or any agency or subdivision thereof, as a certificate of deposit issued by an institution whose deposits are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and made payable jointly to the owner and the Department of Insurance, 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. If any bond issued 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 declare the qualification bond of the professional bail agent to be forfeited and the license revoked. If the bond was not forfeited correctly under Section 99-5-25, it shall be returned to the court as uncollectible. The department shall then order the surety on the qualification bond to deposit with the court an amount equal to the amount of the bond issued by the professional bail agent and declared forfeited by the court, or the amount of the qualification bond, whichever is the smaller amount. The department shall, after hearing held upon not less than ten (10) days' written notice, suspend the license of the professional bail agent until such time as another qualification bond in the required amount is posted with the department. The revocation of the license of the professional bail agent shall also serve to revoke the license of each soliciting bail agent and bail enforcement agent employed or used by such professional bail agent. 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 (2) 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.
(2) 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 6. Section 83-39-11, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
83-39-11. Each license application and application for license renewal to engage in the business of professional bail agent shall be accompanied by a fee of One Hundred Dollars ($100.00). Each license application and application for license renewal to engage in the business of soliciting bail agent or bail enforcement agent shall be accompanied by a fee of Forty Dollars ($40.00).
SECTION 7. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2007.