Bail Bondsman Sues For The Sake of Standardized Bail Rules

One Licking County, Ohio, bail bondsman is going out on a limb by filing a law suit earlier this month that demands all courts in Ohio should play by the same rules when it comes to the bail process. He also believes that bail business should be conducted exclusively by licensed bondsmen.

Woody Fox of Woody Fox Bail Bonds filed the suit with the Ohio Supreme Court on March 4th  contesting that the state constitution is being violated by the current laws which permit the rejection of surety bonds for certain types of bail.

In his own words: “The courts have gotten into the bail-bond business against us, without any rules. We just need to get things standardized. I want a decision that applies statewide, win, lose or draw.”

The state of Ohio permits three kinds of bail. In the first instance, a felon can be released on a recognizance bond bound by the promise to return for trial. The second type is a surety bond which is actually a promissory note issued by a bail bondsman to the court that insures coverage of the cost of the bond if the accused fails to appear.  The third bail category is referred to as a 10 percent bond, which is secured by payment of 10% of the total cost of the bond. It is this kind of bond that is at the center of the controversy.

Fox argues that most of the courts in central Ohio as well as those In Licking County, will only accept cash for the 10% payment. In the southwestern part of the state, there are courts that will offer the option of either 10% cash or surety on the full amount when a 10% amount has been approved. The Ohio Department of Insurance only permits licensed bail bondsmen to dispense surety bonds.

Fox’s suit charges that this is unconstitutional and violates the particular provision that states: “all persons shall be bailable by sufficient sureties.” This is not his first law suit on this very same matter. Some two years Fox sued the Licking County Municipal Court and there was an ultimate agreement to accept surety on 10 percent bonds.

There is opposition to Fox’s lawsuit. Prosecutor, Ken Oswalt, claims that the cases cited concerned the full amount of the bail and not a 10% payment.

There are good things to say about the other side of the coin. The court is bound by law to return 90% of the 10% down payment if the accused makes all court appearances. No bondsmen who also received 10% of the total bond is likely to return a fee even though to a cash strapped felon he or she represents the only way to make bail. Bondsmen are also more flexible about how payments are made; they can establish payment plans, accept collateral, credit cards and checks.




Posted by M Dee Dubroff, on March 18, 2013 at 9:00 AM