Cases - South Carolina

In State v. Cochran, 594 S.E.2d 844 (S.C. 2004) the bail agent signed the bonds as surety and attached a power of attorney from Frontier Insurance Company.  The state sued for the amount owed on the forfeited (in South Carolina, "estreated") bonds.  The bail agent argued that Frontier was in rehabilitation and the Order of Rehabilitation prevented the suit.  He claimed that he was just the agent for a known principal and so had no personal liability.  The Court rejected the argument and pointed out that the bond on its face showed the bail agent as the surety not as agent for someone else. 

In Integrity Bail Bonds v. Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners, 2004 WL 784734 (Fla. App. April 14, 2004) the State, after the bond was written, increased the offense charged from a third degree felony to a second degree felony.  The Court held that this change, which increased the potential maximum sentence from 5 years to 15 years, was a substantial change that increased the likelihood the defendant would abscond.  Therefore, the bond was discharged, and the trial court erred in not setting aside the forfeiture ("estreature") entered after the defendant failed to appear.  The Court rejected the County's argument that the surety had a duty to object after receiving notice of the increased charge.

In Ex parte Gene Frye Bail Bonds, 2004 WL 943531 (S.C. App. May 3, 2004) the defendant was arrested on additional charges and failed to make a court appearance.  The surety sought relief from its obligations on the bond.  The statute allowing such relief, S.C. Code §38-53-50, prior to its amendment in 1998, stated that the court could order a partial refund of the fee.  That provision was eliminated in the 1998 amendments, and the Court of Appeals concluded "the governing statute does not authorize the circuit court to require a bonding company to pay any portion of the fee back to the defendant or his guarantor in order to be released from a bond."