Bail Bondsmen out of business in Mingo County

Rachel Baldwin rbaldwin@civitasmedia.com

October 6, 2013

WILLIAMSON - An administrative order signed by Chief Judge John L. Cummings, who was appointed to fill the Circuit Court Judge’s seat after the suspension and indictment of former Judge Michael Thornsbury, changes the way a defendant may post bond and places local bail bondsman who have served the needs of the public while making a tidy profit for themselves out of business within Mingo County, effective the first of this month.

In the past, a person who was arrested for a crime within the county could secure the services of a bail bondsman. For example, if a defendant was arrested for an alleged crime and was issued a bond amount of $20,000, they would pay 10 percent of that (in this case, $2,000) to a bail bondsman, who would them issue a cooperate surety for the actual bond amount. The percentage paid to the bondsman, however, was non-returnable, no matter what the outcome of the case might be; it was kept by the bondman to which it was paid.

With the new changes now in place and the rules of the game changed, the 10 percent of the bond is paid directly to the circuit clerk’s office or magistrate’ s office and is released back to the defendant once the case is closed and sentencing is carried out, barring any problems such as bail-jumping or failure to appear in court which would result in forfeiture of the money paid.

The administrative order, in it’s entirety, reads as follows:

After 11:59 p.m. on September 30, 2013, the following order shall be in effect pertaining to the criminal bonds in the judicial system in Mingo County, WV.

Bail is security for the appearance of a defendant to answer to a specific criminal charge before any court or magistrate at a specific time or at any time the case may be continued. At the discretion of the court of magistrate, it may take one or more of the following forms:

1. The deposit by the defendant or by some other person for the defendant of the cash amount of the bond.

2. The written undertaking by one or more persons to forfeit a sum of money equal to the amount of the bail if the defendant is in default of appearance, which shall be known as recognizance, provided, that no person or persons may receive any remuneration in any form for the signing of such recognizance. A recognizance shall be signed by the defendant. It shall also be signed by one or more adult persons owning real estate in the State of WV. The court or magistrate require that justification of surety be furnished. The assessed value of the real property as shown on the county land books over and above all liens and encumbrances may not be less than one-half the amount of the bail. If the offense is a felony, the Judge of the Circuit Court that will have the jurisdiction to try the offense may release the defendant on his or her own recognizance.

3. Ten percent cash deposit of bail security: A defendant who has been permitted to execute a bail bond known as a “ten-percent cash deposit” shall deposit with the clerk of the court, magistrate clerk, magistrate assistant or magistrate before which the action is pending, a sum of money equal to ten percent of the bail, but in no event shall such deposit be less than $25. Upon making the deposit and signing a recognizance, without the necessity for a jurisdiction of surety for the remaining amount of the bail, the defendant shall be released from custody.

Any person released from custody by the posting of any form of bond stated above may have additional lawful requirements imposed as a condition of bond. After all conditions of the bond have been met and upon completion of the case, the clerk of the court receiving the bond shall reimburse the posted bond to the person posting the bond unless otherwise ordered by the circuit court.

Further information will be released to the public regarding this matter as it is provided by the court.