I see a lot of practical problems with collecting the "fee" on bonds to support the longevity pay. Does anyone have any ideas? 1)May the bondsmen pay the fee by check? If so what, if any penalty is there for a bounced check. It would not void the bond would it? 2) What ideas are there to track the money so that it can be related to a particular bond. This is important so that if the case is declined the treasurer will know which bondsman may collect on which bond. 3) What, if anything would happen to the fee if the prosecutor neither accepts or declines the case. He simply ignores it? 4) The statute states that the fee is assessed to any bond collected pursuant to Gov't Code 41.258 has anyone seen the text of that provision? 5) Apparently all prosecutors (both D.A. and County) will need to develop some type of for "officially" declining a case in order for the bondsmen to collect the refund does anyone have an example? 6)If suspect is arrested on a warrant issued by county A in county B and posts a bond who collects the fee? 7) How does the treasurer account for refunds if the money is collected in the 1st quarter, then sent to the State Comptroller and then in the middle of the 2nd quarter the case is no-billed? Do they request a refund from the Comptoller or deduct it from the 2nd quarter funds, before sending them to the comptroller? 8) Is a case that is dismissed after filing a "declined" prosecution or is it that once a case has been filed the money remains with the State regardless of final disposition. 9) If a prosecutor is owed funds after the 1st quarter, but there is not sufficient funds to pay in full the shortage is carried forward to the next quarter. If the prosecutor stays through the 2nd quarter but quits the first week into the 3rd quarter is he entitled to the "carried forward" pay if and when it arrives or is that simply "lost money"? Are there other issues that I have not seen?
Richard: Thanks for the post. Me, I don't see any problems. Only opportunities and challenges.
Why can't the bondsman pay with a check? I can't see how the bond would be invalidated for a bounced check, but there is a penalty for bouncing a check, and I would imagine that a bondsman who bounces checks wouldn't be writing bonds very long...
Good idea on the tracking...seems that the CCP sections referred to in HB 1940 will require documentation. As far as refunds, the way it is written, the bondsman must carry the ball to get it done within 180 days. I read that section as applying to dismissals. It appears to me that refunds come out of funds that are existing in the county's fund set up for the purpose of gathering up the money.
Seems to me that the official who takes the bond collects the fee, regardless of where the charge is pending....
As far as the person who quits, they get the supplement for the monthsd worked. The supplement is calculated on the quarter before, but it is payed for the current quarter. So you could end up with someone who is paid a supplement for the quarter who owes a refund.
This is my first cut at answering the questions. I hope this string starts to grow as folks have different ideas and thoughts on this deal....
We posed these issues and the need for an organized approach to the members of our Bail Bond Board. It was a natural group to handle the switch. The members include the treasurer, someone from the sheriff's office, and lots of bondsmen.
It seems obvious to me that a receipt should be issued for the $15 at the time it is paid which reflects at least the bond principal, the offense, and the amount of the bond. Without that receipt, no refund is ever issued. The duplicate of the receipt (kept by the person collecting the fee and probably ultimately given to the treasurer) serves as a record of potential refunds. Refunds can and should be paid out of any current funds available at the county level (even though they arise from money paid in prior accounting periods). While the funds are dedicated to two particular uses once they reach the comptroller, until then (starting next month) they are just a segregated fund in the hands of the treasurer of each county. As far as when a case is "declined", I say the bondsman must offer proof with his request for a refund and you can develop whatever form you want to accomplish or limit this. If you are not willing to say the case has been declined at any point in time, it has not been declined (and vice versa). The 180 days provision is unclear. It could be referring to the request having to be made within 180 days of the date prosecution was declined (which could be an ambiguous point in time) or it could be referring to when the refund must be made (in relation to the date of the request). How many bondsmen are going to track the prosecution and jump through all the hoops to get $15 anyway? Then, of course, you might also have the multiple bond scenario: $30 paid upon posting three bonds and one of the cases is ultimately dismissed. Do you apply for refund of $10?
The real problem (and to me this is a true "problem") is the fact that initially the money collected in September must be forwarded to Austin by October 30. No additional money will become available in Austin until the end of the next calendar quarter (and potentially as late as January 30 since the county has 30 days in which to send the money in). Thus, we receive our November supplement in November. We may not get another supplement until sometime in January, and it is almost certain to be in a reduced amount because not enough funds will have accumulated for the comptroller to pay the "certified" amounts due for a quarter through one month's worth of bond fees (actually only 90% is sent to Austin and 1/3 of that will not be available to pay the supplements). The next payment of a supplement is not due until after February 28 (end of the second quarter in the State FY). So, essentially, there will be little or no supplement paid between the day you receive your November supplement and mid to late March. The good news, of course, is that your March check should be pretty hefty (since it will include what you weren't paid on time in January, assuming enough was collected in October-December in bond fees). Nothing would prevent the county treasurers from sending in the collected funds more often than 4 times a year. Maybe that is what we should be encouraging them to do, at least these first few months.
Martin: Read again. Although the date of october 30 is relevant to the calculation of the pay owing in the next fiscal quarter, the money collected is not due in Austin until 30 days (I think it is 30, I don't have the bill in front of me).
Then the comptroller sends it out to the counties within 60 days....
This has nothing to do with the original topic, but Rob's comment above came to mind as I read this story, and maybe it will serve to inspire all of us to properly view the obstacles in our paths, so I will share it. I apologize in advance for the length of the post.
From the Stephenville Empire-Tribune:
Like many young boys, Ryon Anderson of Dublin grew up with ambitions of becoming a doctor or a pilot.
However, his dreams were cut short at the age of 12 when his brain swelled, puncturing his optic nerves causing complete loss of his eyesight.
Anderson, who graduated from Dublin High School in 1999, said he remembers "everything" from before he lost his sight 10 years ago.
"I was a really observant kid. I remember colors, shapes, designs everything," he said. "Functionally, the fact that I lost my vision later in life was great, but emotionally it made it very hard."
Although he now appears to not have a shy bone in his body, Anderson admits he was a different person for a few years after becoming blind. But he learned to accept his blindness and face it as a challenge rather than a disability.
"The first couple of years were tough," he said. "Until around my sophomore year in high school, I wasn't the same person. I was shy, quiet, it took a while. But then I realized to accept this, and my confidence grew."
The year after he lost his sight, Anderson attended the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Austin, where he learned Braille and how to use a cane. Anderson now uses a guide dog, Jarod, rather than a cane.
"I got my first dog the end of my junior year (in high school)," he said. "Having a dog is kind of like a cane but better. They move faster and allow you to relax a little bit.
Plus, they're a good companion and the best social icebreaker, people always want to pet him."
Although it was obvious Anderson could no longer pursue his childhood dreams of becoming a doctor or a pilot, he discovered new dreams and stepped up to the challenge of fulfilling them.
"I'm stubborn," he said when asked what his motivation was. "Early on, my parents wouldn't let me quit. But later, it was me, I made this (blindness) my ultimate challenge. I wanted to beat it. I wanted to prove everyone wrong."
Anderson excelled in high school, graduating with honors and participating in powerlifting. He then attended Tarleton State University where he graduated in May 2003 with a degree in psychology. He plans to begin his master's program in psychology in August and hopes to become a licensed professional counselor.
"All the jobs I wanted to do growing up I couldn't do," he said. "But over the years, I've learned to be a good listener. I thought this (psychology) would be a good way to utilize those skills. It poses lots of interesting challenges, and I like challenges."
Anderson said he credits much of his success to his parents who he considers his "best friends."
"My parents have always been really supportive," he said. "We had a close family before (the blindness occurred) but we got even closer. Early on they helped me to be positive. They told me it would get better, they told me of all the potential I had."
No one has answered the question yet as to which bonds this fee is to apply to. The last line of the statute states it should apply only to a bail bond taken as provided by Section 41.258, Government Code, as added by this Act, on or after that date. I have attempted to locate the language for 41.258 and have been unable to do so. Was Chapter 41 amended? Or did that bill die when the Democrats ran?
As I read the statute it applies to "a bail bond for an offense other than a misdemeanor punishable by fine only under Chapter 17, Code of Criminal Procedure". Presumably only Class C offenses are excluded from its scope, although it also makes clear "the cost is not
required on the posting of a personal or cash bond." All quotes are from Sec. 4 of the bill. Is there some question about what this language means?
I AGREE THAT IS WHAT SECTION 4 SAYS, BUT THE QUESTION IS THEN, WHY IS THERE LANGUAGE IN SECTION 5 THAT SAYS IT ONLY APPLIES TO BAIL BONDS TAKEN AS PROVIDED BY SECTION 41.258 ON OR AFTER SEPTEMBER 1, 2003?
41.258 is a new section of the Government Code which is part of HB 1940. It goes into effect on September 1, 2003. The fee is applied only to class B misdemeanors and above...
Thanks Rob for that explaination. I am making progress with this but do have a couple more questions for anyone who is willing to make a guess. I thought the money break down was to be $1 to the treasurer, $5 to the defense fund and $9 to the prosecutor's fund. However, 41.258(g) states the county may retain 10% of the funds collected. Wouldn't that be $1.50? That would mean that the Comptroller would receive $13.50 and of that $4.50 would go to the defense fund and $9.00 to the prosecutor's fund correct? Also has the Comptroller stated whether they will promulgate forms for the treasurers to request the supplements and to report the gross incomes on? My treasurer has many questions that I can not answer right now. Is there someone at the Comptroller's office she can contact? Since we have agreed that the county who takes the bond keeps the fee is there going to be a standard state wide "declined" form that a bondsman can request to present to the treasurer? We have drafted a form to use here but I don't know whether it would be acceptable in Bexar or Tarrant county. Not that bondsmen aren't honest people, but does anyone have ideas to ensure that fraudulent "declined" notices aren't presented and paid.
Richard, as I have read 1940, your analysis is correct. The county, only if it fully performs under this section, may keep $1.50 for every $15 collected. The remainder ($13.50) goes to Austin and is then split according to section (i) of the Bill.
Regarding Declines: Hays County usually requires certified copies or phone verification by a county official for out-of-county documents. That should take care of any variance between counties and any false claims by bondsmen. Honestly, though, I think Martin is correct in assuming that most bondsmen won't be organized enough to catch a decline within the 6 month period.
Mark, I appreciate your thoughts.
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