1. Applicable Statutes

Annotated Code of Maryland (ACM) 10-101 et seq. Subtitle 3: Bail Bondsmen

Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) 31.03.05

Maryland Rules, Criminal Causes Rule 4-217

2. Licensing Requirements

“Bail bondsman” means a surety agent who is appointed by an insurer to solicit, procure, negotiate, and effectuate bail bonds on behalf of that insurer. [COMAR 31.03.05.02]

Bail agents in Maryland must comply with the following for licensure:

  • Be appointed by an authorized insurer to act as the insurer’s agent in the placement of bail bonds; and [COMAR 31.03.05.05]
  • File with the Insurance Commissioner and the Chief Clerk of the District Court the general power of attorney executed on behalf of the surety [COMAR 31.03.05.05]
  • Be of good character and trustworthy, [ACM 10-104]
  • Be at least 18 years of age,
  • Have some knowledge of bail insurance,
  • For three years preceding application, have at least one year as an employee of a bail agent/insurer,
  • Pass the examination given by the Commissioner.

Under certain conditions the examination or experience requirement can be waived by the Commissioner.

The Commissioner shall require continuing education for agents to renew the certificate of qualification, but may not require them to receive more than 16 hours of continuing education per renewal period for those who have had a certificate for less than 25 consecutive years, or not more than 8 hours for those having the certificate for 25 or more consecutive years.

The regulatory body is the Maryland Insurance Administration.

3. Notice of Forfeiture

If a defendant fails to appear as required, the court shall order forfeiture of the bail bond and issuance of a warrant for the defendant’s arrest. The clerk shall promptly notify any surety on the defendant’s bond, and the State’s Attorney, of the forfeiture of the bond and the issuance of the warrant. [MD Rules, Rule 4-217(i)]

4. Forfeiture to Judgment

If an order of forfeiture has not been stricken or satisfied within 90 days after the defendant’s failure to appear, or within 180 days if the time has been extended, the clerk shall forthwith:

  • Enter the order of forfeiture as a judgment in favor of the governmental entity that is entitled by statute to receive the forfeiture and against the defendant and surety, if any, for the amount of the penalty sum of the bail bond, with interest from the date of forfeiture and costs including any costs of recording, less any amount that may have been deposited as collateral security; and
  • Cause the judgment to be recorded and indexed among the civil judgment records of the circuit court of the county; and
  • Prepare, attest, and deliver or forward to any bail bond commissioner appointed pursuant to Rule 16-817, to the State’s Attorney, to the Chief Clerk of the District Court, and to the surety, if any, a true copy of the docket entries in the cause, showing the entry and recording of the judgment against the defendant and surety, if any.

Enforcement of the judgment shall be by the State’s Attorney in accordance with those provisions of the rules relating to the enforcement of judgments. [MD Rules, Rule 4-217(i)4]

5. Defenses to Forfeiture

If the defendant or surety can show reasonable grounds for the defendant’s failure to appear. the court shall (A) strike out the forfeiture in whole or in part; and (B) set aside any judgment entered thereon. and (C) order the remission in whole or in part of the penalty sum paid pursuant to subsection (3) of this section. [MD Rules, Rule 4-217(i)2]

6. Remission

Within 90 days from the date the defendant fails to appear, which time the court may extend to 180 days upon good cause shown, a surety shall satisfy any order of forfeiture, either by producing the defendant in court or by paying the penalty sum of the bond.

If the defendant is produced within such time by the State, the court shall require the surety to pay the expenses of the State in producing the defendant and shall treat the order of forfeiture satisfied with respect to the remainder of the penalty sum.

When the defendant is produced in court after the 90 or 180-day period (if extended), the surety may apply for the refund of any penalty sum paid in satisfaction of the forfeiture less any expenses permitted by law. If the penalty sum has not been paid, the court, on application of the surety and payment of any expenses permitted by law, shall strike the judgment against the surety entered as a result of the forfeiture.

If, within the 90 or 180-day period (if extended), the surety produces evidence and the court finds that the defendant is incarcerated in a penal institution outside this State and that the State’s Attorney is unwilling to issue a detainer and subsequently extradite the defendant, the court shall strike out the forfeiture and shall return the bond or collateral security to the surety.

If, after the expiration of the 90 or 180-day period (if extended), but within 10 years from the date the bond or collateral was posted, the surety produces evidence and the court finds that the defendant is incarcerated in a penal institution outside this State and that the State’s Attorney is unwilling to issue a detainer and subsequently extradite the defendant, the court shall (i) strike out the forfeiture; (ii) set aside any judgment thereon; and (iii) order the return of the forfeited bond or collateral or the remission of any penalty sum paid. [MD Rules, Rule 4-217(i)3]

7. Bail Agent’s Arrest Authority

A surety on a bail bond who has custody of a defendant may procure the discharge of the bail bond at any time before forfeiture by:

  • delivery of a copy of the bond and the amount of any premium or fee received for the bond to the court in which the charges are pending or to a commissioner in the county in which the charges are pending who shall thereupon issue an order committing the defendant to the custodian of the jail or detention center; and
  • delivery of the defendant and the commitment order to the custodian of the jail or detention center, who shall thereupon issue a receipt for the defendant to the surety.

Unless released on a new bond, the defendant shall be taken forthwith before a judge of the court in which the charges are pending.

  • On motion of the surety or any person who paid the premium or fee, and after notice and opportunity to be heard, the court may by order award to the surety an allowance for expenses in locating and surrendering the defendant, and refund the balance to the person who paid it. [MD Rules, Rule 4-217(h)]

8. Other Noteworthy Provisions

9. Noteworthy Appellate Decisions

Pantazes v. State , 834 A.2d 975 ( Md. App., 2003).

The defendant was convicted of child abuse but failed to appear at his sentencing. At that time, the trial court “revoked” the defendant’s bail, but did not formally declare it forfeited. 264 days later, the court became aware that the bail was never officially forfeited and an administrative judge took corrective action and forfeited the bond, issuing formal notice to the bonding company. The bonding company moved to strike the forfeiture. The Court of Special Appeals declared that the delay did not prejudice the bondsman and he was still obligated to produce the defendant.

Wiegand v. State , 363 Md. 186 (2001).

Defendant was charged with possession of marijuana and released on a bond issued by the bond company. At the time of the undertaking, the defendant was required to stay in the state of Maryland . However, the court later modified the release conditions and allowed the defendant to return to California without notifying the bondsman. The defendant failed to appear in court and the court moved to forfeit the bond. The bondsman filed a petition to strike the bond forfeiture. The Circuit Court denied the petition. The bondsman appealed to the Court of Special Appeals, which held that the bail bondsman was not entitled to be discharged from obligation of the bail bond when the court amended the pre-trial release conditions.

10. Bounty Hunter Provisions

There are no provisions relating to bounty hunters at this time.