Sounds Great doesn’t it? But as we all know, nothing in life is ever really free, everything comes with a price to someone. In January 2018 Colorado Legislators, Adrienne Benavidez and Rhonda Fields where the prime sponsors in a recent attempt to push new “Bail Reform” Legislation as, HB18-1089.
The Proposed Legislation would have eliminated the Judge’s discretion when requiring either a Cash, Property or Surety bond when considering the release of a defendant appearing before the Court, the bill would make it mandatory to grant a Personal Recognizance (PR) bond to the defendant for almost all Misdemeanor, Petty Offense and Municipal violations in the State of Colorado.
Since there is so much misinformation from the pro ” Bail Reform” advocates in the media, this is a good time to go over the type of bonds being discussed, for this example we will use a $1,000.00 bond amount.
- Cash Bonds, This type of bond requires the full amount of the bond to be paid directly to the court. ( you pay $1,000.00 ).
- Property Bond, This type of bond requires executing a lien on physical property up to the amount of the bond with the court, this is the least used bond type, especially with Misdemeanor, Petty Offense and Municipal bond amounts generally being under $5,000.00 dollars.
- Surety Bonds, A Alpha Bail Bonds and our Agency are Surety Bond Professionals, next to a (PR) bond they are the most cost effective and a more secure type of Bail Bonds for people of all income levels in use today. By State Law in Colorado, a Professional Surety agent cannot charge more than 15% of the bond amount set by the court. Even at the maximum percentage allowable, ( you pay $150.00 premium, 85% less than a cash bond ).
- Personal Recognizance (PR) bonds, This type of bond usually requires nothing more than a defendant to promise to appear for future court dates.( you pay $0.00 ).
Obviously, a PR Bond is the least expensive, but they can also carry the most risk by not requiring anything more from some defendants other than a “Promise” to appear for the next Court date. This often results in bond forfeiture and a warrant being issued by the same Court for the defendant’s arrest on new failure to appear charges. In fact, the majority of bond forfeitures our Agency has are for misdemeanor bonds under $5,000.00 dollars.
Statistics found in the Impact Analysis of Colorado’s 2013 Bail Reform Law used by reform advocates incorrectly list bail forfeiture rates by combining Surety Bonds with Cash and Property Bonds, then calculating statistics for PR Bonds separately. All Cash, Property and PR Bonds are imposed by the Court and should be calculated independently, then combined and totaled for accurate statistics concerning Government Accountability. Surety Bonds and Agents are held financially accountable to the Court independently and should not be calculated with Court or Government liability, Time and time again, forfeiture rates for Surety Bonds are far lower than Government Bail, Cash, Property and PR Bonds.
When Reform advocates quote statistics to convince us that Government Bail, Pre Trial, and PR Bond solutions are in the best interest of the public, we must examine the motive. After all, Cash Bonds are a form of Government Bail and they have been found to be the most harmful type of Bonds, creating a financial hardship to low-income defendants and their families. In the past, PR Bonds have been reserved for Misdemeanor, Petty Offense and Municipal violations and defendants with very little or no criminal history, consistent employment history, residence history, displaying a good standing in the community and very little risk of missing court. In March and April 2018 our Agency has documented several County and District Criminal Courts granting PR Bonds to individuals with an initial bond set as high as $50,000.00, the Courts have actually grated PR Bonds to defendants arrested and booked on Criminal Failure to Appear charges.
We do not pretend to know the reason for this but it is not hard to understand the concern for Public Safety this situation represents, population increases, legislative infrastructure neglect, overcrowded courts and detention facilities, Judicial activism, etc. etc. can all account for more crime happening now, but so can an unfettered “PR bonds for everyone” policy.