Wednesday, July 20, 2016
A decision issued today by the New Jersey Appellate Division should be of interest to bail bondsmen in that jurisdiction.
While released on bail, defendants Cesar Mungia, Christian Rodriguez, and Alexis Melendez separately fled from the United States. The State apparently did not seek extradition. The sureties who posted their bail, appellants U.S. Specialty Insurance Company (U.S. Specialty) and American Reliable Insurance Company (American Reliable) (collectively the sureties), appeal the trial court's orders forfeiting 70% of each defendant's bail and remitting 30% to the sureties.
We hold that if a defendant becomes a fugitive and flees to a foreign country, there is a presumption against remission. The surety must make every effort to assist in the reapprehension of the defendant, including by locating the defendant in the foreign country. The failure to extradite a located defendant does not excuse the sureties from their contract with the State, and generally does not justify remission if the State has no ability to obtain extradition of the defendant. However, if the surety locates the defendant in a foreign country, and extradition is possible, but the State elects not to request that the federal government seek extradition, there is no absolute bar against remission. In that situation, the trial court should consider the general factors governing remission. Finding no abuse of discretion in the trial court's consideration of those factors in these cases, we affirm.