Cases - Tennessee

In State v. Davis, 2004 WL 892530 (Tenn. Crim. App. April 26, 2004) the defendant was arrested for DUI and posted a $1,750 bond.  He appeared as required, pled guilty and was sentenced to 48 hours in jail, the balance of a year on probation and a $350 fine.  He was also ordered not to drive for a year and to appear before the court in three months for a "probation hearing."  He served the 48 hours but did not pay the fine or appear for the probation hearing.  The court forfeited the bond and ordered the bondsman to pay the fine plus costs.  On appeal the State and the bondsman agreed that the bond was discharged when the defendant pled guilty and was sentenced, but the court of appeals disagreed.  It held that the statute relied on by the bondsman had been partially repealed by implication because in another statute enacted later the legislature allowed the court to continue the bond if a defendant is granted probation.  Since the entire bond of $1,750 could be forfeit, the court had discretion to reduce the forfeiture to the amount of the fine and costs and then to apply the forfeited sum to their payment.

In re Guy James Bonding, 2004 WL 1402562 (Tenn. Crim. App. June 23, 2004) reviewed the statutory basis for relief from forfeiture under Tennessee law.  The defendant failed to appear and a conditional forfeiture was entered.  The surety paid the forfeiture but subsequently recovered and surrendered the defendant.  The trial court denied relief from the forfeiture on the ground that the request came too late.  The Court of Appeals reversed and held that once the bail amount was paid, whether there was a final forfeiture order or not, relief could be granted under only Tenn. Code §40-11-204 and that there was no time limit for relief under that statute.  The relief is equitable, however, and the party seeking it must establish a basis on which it should be granted.  The case, therefore, was remanded to the trial court to hold a hearing to determine the relief, if any, to which the surety is entitled.

In Graham v. General Sessions Court of Franklin County, 2004 WL 2246195 (Tenn. Ct. App. October 5, 2004) two professional bondsmen challenged an order that bail of less than $4,400 could be made by any two owners of real property in Franklin County.  The Court of Appeals held that aspect of the order violated the controlling Tennessee statute, which requires that persons guarantying bail have a net worth in excess of the bail amount, and designating the sheriff or judicial commissioner as the officials to decide whether the statutory requirements have been met.

In re AB Bonding Company, Inc., 2004 WL 2853540 (Tenn. Crim. App. December 10, 2004) dismissed the surety's appeal of the trial court's denial of the surety's motion to remit forfeitures of a series of bonds for the same defendant.  After the defendant failed to appear, the surety paid the full amount of the bonds and hired a bounty hunter who eventually recovered the defendant.  The trial court remitted the amount of the surety's expenses in the successful recovery effort but denied relief as to the rest of the forfeitures.  The surety appealed.  The Court held that the record did not include final judgments entered by the trial court against the surety, that final judgments are a necessary prerequisite to jurisdiction in the court of appeals, and that the appeal accordingly must be dismissed.