Compliance Information: Bail Bond Agents
As a licensee it’s important you have access to information that helps you keep your insurance business in compliance. This section is an important tool to help you meet that goal.
However, these tools are not and cannot replace statutes, department rules, orders or case law. The items below are intended as reminders only and are not necessarily the exact text of the Florida Statutes or Florida Administrative Code. The legal cites have been provided for your further reference.
As a bail bond agent you may need to apprehend or pickup a defendant and may require the assistance of another bail bond agent. The agent you select must be a licensed bail bond agent that is appointed with the surety company the issued the subject bond.
Be aware that neither the temporary bail bond agent license nor the limited surety (bail bond) agent license authorizes a person to carry a weapon. The Florida Statutes do not specifically address bail bond agents using weapons while working.
Weapon permits are issued through the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. These permits are issued to qualifying citizens of the state of Florida. You will need to follow the laws related to the issuance of your permits, which include not carrying your weapon in certain locations. See 790.06(12), F.S., for a complete listing. You may want to direct any questions you have regarding your permits to them. Their web site is: http://www.freshfromflorida.com/.
Bail Bond Agent
A bail bond agent (also referred to as a limited surety agent) is an individual appointed by an insurer to execute bail bonds in connection with court proceedings and who therefore receives or is promised money or other things of value (collateral) in return for issuing a bail bond. The agent will determine whether or not collateral is necessary for the bond to be issued.
Professional Bail Bond Agent
A professional bail bond agent uses their own money to post bail for defendants by pledging United States currency, United States postal money orders, or cashier's checks as security for the bail bond in connection with a judicial proceeding and receives or is promised money or other things of value for doing so. Professional bail bond agents must be licensed and appointed and complete the same continuing education requirements as a limited surety (bail bond) agent. It should be noted that professional bail bond agents are not appointed by an insurance company but rather they appoint themselves.
As a professional bail bond agent you must meet the same eligibility requirements listed for a bail bond agent, plus file a detailed financial statement under oath with each application, renewal or continuation of appointment, and file with the Office of Insurance Regulation the premium rates to be used for bail bonds to be written. These filings must be made before the professional bail bond agent writes any bail bonds in Florida.
Temporary Bail Bond Agent
A temporary bail bond agent is a person who is employed and is paid a salary or other wages by a bail bond agent or agency, insurer, or managing general agent.
The temporary bail bond agent license is effective for a maximum of 18 months. The temporary bail bond agent has the same authority as a bail bond agent as long as the supervising agent is present at the time.
A temporary bail bond agent may interview an inmate at the jail if the temporary bail bond agent is accompanied in the interview by the supervising bail bond agent. This would be a part of the training by the supervising bail bond agent to show the temporary bail bond agent the proper way to interview an inmate. The temporary bail bond agent cannot conduct this interview alone.
The temporary bail bond agent may not:
- Execute or sign bonds
- Handle collateral receipts
- Deliver bonds to the jail
- Operate a bail bond agency away from a properly appointed supervising bail bond agent.
See 648.355, F.S., for the complete explanation of temporary limited license.
Collateral is property that is pledged as security against a debt. In a bail bond situation, the indemnitor agrees to reimburse the bail bond agent for the full amount of the bail if the defendant fails to appear for any required hearing. If the defendant fails to appear for a hearing then the indemnitor owes a debt to the bail bond agent and that debt may be secured with collateral provided by the indemnitor or the defendant. The agent may accept a deposit of cash or other valuable property to be held for the lifetime of the bond, subject to be returned when the principal has fulfilled the obligation to appear at the appointed court times. However, it should be noted an agent may not accept a quitclaim deed for property as collateral. Reference: 648.442(1), F.S.
Acceptable Forms of Collateral
Cash can be accepted as collateral on a bond but the funds used as collateral must be kept separate from the other funds of the agent and assets of the agency. Cash that is accepted in an amount over $50,000 must be made payable to the insurer and received in the form of a cashier's check, United States postal money order, certificate of deposit, or money wire.
Real estate can be accepted as collateral but the mortgage lien must be in the name of the insurer issuing the bail bond.
When a defendant fails to appear and the court forfeits the bail bond, the bail bond agent must provide the indemnitor and the principal (defendant) on the bond with 10 days advance notice of the agent's intent to convert the collateral deposit to cash to satisfy the forfeiture. If, upon conversion of the collateral, it is found the collateral is worth more than the amount of the bond that forfeited, the bail bond agent or insurer is required to refund the excess amount of money received from the conversion of the collateral. See 648.442(5)(6), F.S.
A discharge of a bail bond is the formal document that releases the liability of the surety on the bail bond that was posted to release a defendant from the custody of the court.
There are several occurrences that would be considered reasons for the bail bond agent to make a request to the clerk of the court to verify the discharge of a bond. These instances should be well documented and include:
- When the bail bond agent knows that the defendant has been recommitted to the custody of the court,
- The defendant has died and the death certificate has been filed with the court, or
- The agent knows that the case has been resolved and the bond is no longer needed.
In each of these cases it is the bail bond agent's responsibility to obtain the documentation that supports the agent's position that the bond should be discharged by the court.
You are required to have a primary bail bond agent for each bail bond agency you own and for each location of your bail bond agency in accordance with section 648.387, F.S. The primary agent must be a licensed and appointed bail bond agent and may not be the designated primary agent for more than one location.
To do so, you will need to create a secure MyProfile Bail Bond Agency account type. When you do this, you will be able to do the following actions:
- Add Owner/Officer
- Designate and delete a primary bail bond agent.
- Add locations
- Delete locations
- Change an address
- Change login information
- Email Address Changes
- Grant Third-Party Privileges
For more instructions, please see our Bail Bond Agency Primary Agent User Guide.
As the Department strives to go paperless, the switch from paper to electronic is convenient and will allow licensees to update their individual and bail bond agency information via their secure MyProfile accounts in real time online.
This allows the consumer-buying public to find and locate bail bond agents and agencies on the Department’s Licensee Search. This is something that they could not do previously.
Also, now jails and courts will be able to verify that a bail bond agent and agency is registered with the Department after they have designated a primary bail bond agent for a location.
Section 648.44, F.S., prohibits paying an attorney to refer business to you or your agency.
Section 648.44(1)(a), F.S., states bail bond agents and temporary bail bond agents are prohibited from suggesting or advising the use of any particular attorney to represent his or her principal. Any bail bond agent violating this prohibition is subject to suspension or revocation of their license and commits a first-degree misdemeanor subject to applicable criminal penalties.
The court normally discharges a bond within 10 business days after the condition of the bond has been satisfied. Once the bond is discharged and the agent is notified, the agent must return the collateral to the indemnitor within 21 days. Note: It is the responsibility of the bail bond agent to obtain proper documentation to verify the discharge of the bond.
If the agent receives a demand for the return of collateral and has not received notice of the discharge from the court, the agent should send a written request for the discharge to the court and maintain a copy in their file. Also, a copy of the written request for discharge should be given to the indemnitor or the person that requested the collateral return. If the court does not provide the discharge within 7 days, the bond is automatically canceled and the collateral should be returned within 21 days. Since the Court is not regulated by Chapter 648, it is important for the bail bond agent to maintain proper documentation of the efforts to secure the discharge of the bond before the collateral was returned to the indemnitor.
If the court discharged the bond and notified the agent, and the indemnitor has not been successful in getting the agent to return the collateral a demand letter should be sent to the agent. The written demand letter should be sent to the agent by e-mail, notification of receipt requested, or by certified mail, return receipt requested, to document when the request was actually received by the agent.
The return of collateral is the responsibility of the bail bond agent, MGA, or insurer. If the regulated entity is unable to locate the property owner to return the collateral within the five year period required by Chapter 717, it should be turned over to the Bureau of Unclaimed Property.
Collateral accepted to secure a bail bond must be returned to the person who provided that collateral when the liability on the bail bond has been released. Within 21 days after receiving the notice of discharge from the court, the bail bond agent must return the collateral to the proper party. See 648.571, F.S.
The collateral must be returned to the person that provided it for use on the bail bond in the same manner and condition that it was received by the bail bond agent. If the collateral was received by charging a credit card, then the refund must be made by crediting that same credit card. If the collateral was received by certified check, then the refund must be made with a certified check.
Failure to adhere to the requirements of this statute may result in the bail bond agent being charged with a felony of the third degree. In addition, Florida law compels the Department to impose a penalty of five (5) times the dollar amount of the collateral to anyone violating the collateral requirements.
No one may solicit bail bond business on the grounds of a jail, courthouse, prison or any other place where prisoners are confined. Loitering in or about a jail, courthouse, or where prisoners are confined, is also not permitted.
Soliciting on the grounds of a jail, courthouse, prison or any other place where prisoners are confined includes:
- Displaying, wearing, or distributing any item which directly or indirectly advertises bail bond services; or
- Approaching anyone or urging, enticing, luring, or inviting anyone to approach a bail bond agent to use their services.
- Parking a motor vehicle, which displays the name of a bail bond agent, a bail bond agency, or any other information advertising bail bond services.
- Passing out business cards or other print advertising unless requested by the principal or indemnitor.
A bail bond agent who uses an unlicensed person to solicit people at the jail, courthouse, prison or any other place where prisoners are confined may be held liable for the actions of the unlicensed person.
A bail bond agent may only wear or display the state issued identification which includes a citation of the licensee’s arrest powers when on the grounds of a jail, courthouse, prison or any other place where prisoners are confined.
The property or grounds of a court, jail, prison, or other place where prisoners are confined includes all parking lots and parking spaces adjacent to such places or adjacent to public walkways or public streets adjacent to such places where prisoners are confined. The complete text of the rule can be read here: 69B-221.095, F.A.C.