2007 Regular Session

To: Municipalities; Judiciary B

By: Representative Ward

House Bill 1520



     SECTION 1.  Section 21-23-8, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

     21-23-8.  (1)  The municipal judge shall set the amount of bail for persons charged with offenses in municipal court and may approve the bond or recognizance therefor including cash bond.  In instances where the municipal judge is unavailable and has not provided a bail schedule or otherwise provided for the setting of bail, it is lawful for any officer or officers designated by order of the municipal judge to take bond, cash, property or recognizance, with or without sureties, in a sum to be determined by such officer, of not less than Fifty Dollars ($50.00) nor more than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00), payable to the municipality and conditioned for the appearance of such person on the return day and time of the writ before the court before whom the warrant is returnable, or in cases of arrest without a warrant, on the day and time set by the court or officer for arraignment, and there remain from day to day and term to term until discharged.  All bonds shall be promptly returned to the court, together with any cash deposited, and be filed and proceeded on by the court in a case of forfeiture.  The chief of the municipal police or a police officer or officers designated by order of the municipal judge may approve bonds or recognizances.

     (2)  (a)  All bonds and recognizances in municipal court where the municipal court shall have the jurisdiction to hear and determine the case may be made payable to the municipality and shall have the effect to bind the principal and any sureties on the bond or recognizance until they shall be discharged by due course of law without renewal.

          (b)  If a defendant fails to appear for any proceeding as ordered by the court, then the court shall order the bail forfeited and a bench warrant issued at the time of nonappearance.  The purpose of bail is to guarantee appearance and bail shall not be forfeited for any other reason.  Upon declaration of such forfeiture, the court shall issue a judgment nisi.  The clerk of the court shall notify the surety of the forfeiture by writ of scire facias, with a copy of the judgment nisi and bench warrant attached thereto, within ten (10) working days of such order of judgment nisi either by personal service or by certified mail.  Failure of the clerk to provide the required notice within ten (10) working days shall constitute prima facie evidence that the order should be set aside.

          (c)  The judgment nisi shall be returnable for ninety (90) days from the date of issuance.  If during such period the defendant appears before the court, or is arrested and surrendered, then the judgment nisi shall be set aside.  If the surety fails to produce the defendant and does not provide to the court reasonable mitigating circumstances upon such showing, then the forfeiture shall be made final with a copy of the final judgment to be served on the surety.  Reasonable mitigating circumstances shall be that the defendant is incarcerated in another jurisdiction, that the defendant is hospitalized under a doctor's care, that the defendant is in a recognized drug rehabilitation program, that the defendant has been placed in a witness protection program and it shall be the duty of any such agency placing such defendant into a witness protection program to notify the court and the court to notify the surety, or any other reason justifiable to the court.

     SECTION 2.  Section 99-5-9, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

     99-5-9.  In addition to any type of bail allowed by statute, any committing court including municipal courts, in its discretion, may allow any defendant, to whom bail is allowable, to deposit cash as bail bond in lieu of a surety or property bail bond, by depositing such cash sum as the court may direct with the sheriff or officer having custody of defendant, who shall receipt therefor and who shall forthwith deliver the said monies to the county treasurer, who shall receipt therefor in duplicate.  The sheriff, or other officer, upon receipt of the county treasurer, shall forthwith deliver one (1) copy of such receipt to the committing court who shall then order the release of such defendant.

     The order of the court shall set forth the conditions upon which such cash bond is allowed and shall be determined to be the agreement upon which the bailee has agreed.

     The sums received by the county treasurer shall be deposited by him in a special fund to be known as "Cash Bail Fund," and shall be received by him subject to the terms and conditions of the order of the court.

     SECTION 3.  This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2007.