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Connecticut Public Acts 1996

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Substitute Senate Bill No. 532

PUBLIC ACT NO. 96-164

AN ACT CONCERNING BAIL BONDSMEN INSURANCE AND THE TERMINATION OR REINSTATEMENT OF FORFEITED BAIL BONDS.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. (NEW) (a) As used in this section: (1) "Commissioner" means the Insurance Commissioner; (2) "Insurer" means any domestic, foreign or alien insurance company which has qualified generally to transact surety business in this state under the requirements of chapter 698 of the general statutes and specifically to transact bail bond business in this state; (3) "Surety bail bond agent" means any person who has been approved by the commissioner and appointed by an insurer by power of attorney to execute or countersign bail bonds for the insurer in connection with judicial proceedings; (4) "License" means a surety bail bond agent license issued by the commissioner to a qualified individual as provided in this section; (5) "Solicit" includes any written or printed presentation or advertising made by mail or other publication, or any oral presentation or advertising in person or by means of telephone, radio or television which implies that an individual is licensed under this section, and any activity in arranging for bail which results in compensation to the individual conducting that activity; (6) "Disqualifying offense" means: (A) A felony; or (B) a misdemeanor if an element of the offense involves dishonesty or misappropriation of money or property.

(b) An insurer shall not execute an undertaking of bail in this state except by and through a person holding a license issued as provided in this section.

(c) A person shall not in this state solicit or negotiate in respect to execution or delivery of an undertaking of bail or bail bond on behalf of an insurer, or execute or deliver such an undertaking of bail or bail bond on behalf of an insurer unless licensed as provided in this section.

(d) Only natural persons who are licensed under this section may execute bail bonds. A firm, partnership, association or corporation, desiring to execute an undertaking of bail in this state must do so by and through a person holding a license issued as provided in this section.

(e) Any person desiring to act within this state as a surety bail bond agent shall make a written application to the commissioner for a license in such form and having such supporting documents as the commissioner prescribes. Each application shall be signed by the applicant and shall be accompanied by a nonrefundable filing fee as determined by the commissioner. The applicant must also submit with the application a complete set of the applicant's fingerprints, certified by an authorized law enforcement officer, and two recent credential-sized full face photographs of the applicant. At the time of application, each applicant for a license shall forward a copy of the applicant's complete application and supporting documents to the bond forfeiture unit of the Office of the Chief State's Attorney.

(f) Every applicant for a license must file with the commissioner a notice of appointment executed by an insurer or its authorized representative authorizing such applicant to execute undertakings of bail and to solicit and negotiate such undertakings on its behalf. Each appointment shall, by its terms, continue in force until: (1) Termination of the surety bail bond agent's license; or (2) the filing of a notice of termination by the insurer, its representative or by such surety bail bond agent.

(g) An applicant for a license shall be required to appear in person and take a written examination testing the applicant's competency and qualifications to act as a surety bail bond agent. The commissioner may designate an independent testing service to prepare and administer such examination, provided any examination fees charged by such service shall be paid by the applicant. The commissioner shall collect the appropriate examination fee, which shall entitle the applicant to take the examination for the license, except when a testing service is used, the testing service shall pay such fee to the commissioner. In either case, such examination shall be as the commissioner prescribes and shall be of sufficient scope to test the applicant's knowledge of subjects pertinent to the duties and responsibilities of a surety bail bond agent, including all laws and regulations of this state applicable thereto.

(h) In addition to all other requirements prescribed in this section, each applicant for a license shall furnish satisfactory evidence to the commissioner that: (1) The applicant is at least eighteen years of age; (2) the applicant is a citizen of the United States; and (3) the applicant has never been convicted of a disqualifying offense except that (A) in the case of a felony conviction, at least ten years have passed since the date of the applicant's conviction or release from imprisonment, parole or probation, whichever is later or (B) in the case of a misdemeanor disqualifying offense, at least five years have passed since the date of the applicant's conviction or release from imprisonment, parole, or probation, whichever is later. Such applicant shall also submit to a background investigation, including an investigation of any prior criminal activity, to be conducted by the Division of Criminal Justice utilizing the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement agencies. All processing fees incurred as a result of such investigation shall be paid by the applicant.

(i) Upon satisfying himself that an applicant meets the licensing requirements of this state and is in all respects properly qualified and trustworthy and that the granting of such license is not against the public interest, the commissioner may issue to such applicant the license applied for, in such form as he may adopt, to act within this state to the extent therein specified.

(j) The commissioner may adopt regulations in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54 of the general statutes relating to the approval of schools offering courses in the duties and responsibilities to surety bail bond agents, the content of such courses and the advertising to the public of the services of these schools.

(k) To further the enforcement of this section and to determine the eligibility of any licensee, the commissioner may, as often as he deems necessary, examine the books and records of any such licensee.

(l) A license may, in the discretion of the commissioner, be renewed or continued upon payment of the appropriate fee as the commissioner deems necessary without the resubmittal of the detailed information required in the original application.

(m) The commissioner shall adopt regulations in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54 of the general statutes to implement subsections (a) to (l), inclusive, of this section.

(n) Any individual aggrieved by the action of the commissioner in revoking, suspending or refusing to reissue a license or in imposing a fine or penalty may appeal therefrom, in accordance with the provisions of section 4-183 of the general statutes, except venue for such appeal shall be in the judicial district of Hartford-New Britain. Appeals under this act shall be privileged in respect to the order of trial assignment.

(o) Nothing in this section shall be construed as limiting an individual's ability to operate as a professional bondsman in this state pursuant to chapter 533 of the general statutes provided such individual is in compliance with all requirements of said chapter.

Sec. 2. Section 54-65a of the general statutes, as amended by public act 96-96, is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) Whenever an arrested person is released upon his execution of a bond with surety in an amount of five hundred dollars or more and such bond is ordered forfeited because the principal failed to appear in court as conditioned in such bond, the court shall, at the time of ordering the bond forfeited: (1) Issue a rearrest warrant or a capias directing a proper officer to take the defendant into custody and (2) order a stay of execution upon the forfeiture for six months. When the principal whose bond has been forfeited is returned to custody pursuant to the rearrest warrant or a capias within six months of the date such bond was ordered forfeited, the bond shall be automatically terminated and the surety released and the court shall order new conditions of release for the defendant in accordance with section 54-64a. When the principal whose bond has been forfeited returns to court voluntarily within [two] FIVE business days of the date such bond was ordered forfeited, the court may, in its discretion, and after finding that the defendant's failure to appear was not wilful, vacate the forfeiture order and reinstate the bond. Such stay of execution shall not prevent the issuance of a rearrest warrant or a capias.

(b) Whenever an arrested person, whose bond has been forfeited, is returned to the jurisdiction of the court within one year of the date such bond was ordered forfeited, the surety on such bond shall be entitled to a rebate of that portion of the forfeited amount as may be fixed by the court or as may be established by a schedule adopted by rule of the judges of the court.

Approved June 3, 1996. Effective October 1, 1996.

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