Senate Bill 102
151st General Assembly (Present)
Becomes effective upon date of signature of the Governor or upon date specified
AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 18 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO BAIL BOND AGENTS.
This bill clarifies the original intent of House Bill No. 151 of the 147th General Assembly, which substantially revised the law relating to bail agent licensure and oversight, that individuals or businesses that loan or otherwise provide funds to bail agents for purposes of furnishing bail (“bail funders”) are themselves required to be licensed as bail agents. This clarification is necessary in light of certain members of the bail industry’s attempts to circumvent the requirements of HB 151, as reflected in the Superior Court opinion issued in the matter of Preferred Financial Services, Inc. v. A&R Bail Bonds LLC, et al., 2019 WL 315331 (Del. Super. January 23, 2019), aff’d 2019 WL 4042324 (Del. August 28, 2019). The bill also creates a standard term (“bail agent business entity”) to refer to business entities that advertise and act as bail agents and standardizes the use of the phrase throughout the subchapter. Section 2 provides a definition of “financial interest” and revises the provision regarding background check requirements to permit applicants to submit federal background check requests electronically through SBI. Section 3 of this bill clarifies that the duties of bail agents as set forth in Section 4333B(b) apply both to individual property bail agents and business entity licensees and also grants the Commissioner the authority to request from licensees financial statements and balance sheets in a form required by the Commissioner, bank statements, and other information deemed necessary by the Commissioner in her review of the business operations of licensees under this Chapter. Section 4 of this bill requires the automatic suspension of a bail entity’s license if such entity’s designated responsible individual licensee is no longer in good standing and dictates that a designated responsible individual licensee is responsible for the business entity’s failure to comply with the relevant insurance laws. Sections 5 and 7 of this bill correct a typographical error in the original statute. Section 6 of this bill increases the amount of the bond that bail agents are required to file with the Department. Section 7 also sets forth the procedure for requesting a hearing in connection with a license application denial, which is consistent with the procedures set forth in Chapter 17 of the Insurance Code for producers. Section 8 of this bill includes additional record maintenance requirements in connection with the use of bail funders. Sections 9 and 10 make changes for technical and consistency purposes. Section 11 of this bill requires bail agents to substantively respond to Department inquiries within a reasonable timeframe, which is consistent with the requirements under Title 18’s Unfair Trade Practices Act (Ch. 23). Section 12 of this bill adds language regarding fines that may be imposed upon bail agents in lieu of or in addition to other penalties that may be imposed for violations of the laws of this State. This bill also makes technical corrections to conform existing law to the standards of the Delaware Legislative Drafting Manual.