California Bounty Hunting Laws
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Can Independent Bounty Hunter Contractors who are not Licensed Bail Agents Draft and Appear on a Bail Bond Motion for Sole Proprietorships or Bail Bond Corporations?

Is a Court Ruling Predicated on the Unlawful Practice of Law Subject to Collateral Attack that may result in Summary Judgment of Surety Bond Monies?

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“Access to an attorney to protect your rights is important in the American legal system.

 

Unfortunately, some con artists undermine this vital key to justice by falsely claiming they are entitled to practice law.

 

They often take large payments under false pretenses and harm the legal rights of their victims.”

 

 – Steve Cooley

"Hey, it's okay; I'm world famous."

Can Independent Bounty Hunter Contractors who are not Licensed Bail Agents Draft and Appear on a Bail Bond Motion for Sole Proprietorships or Bail Bond Corporations?

 

Opinion Editorial & Analysis

 

By Bailspeak’s Primary Bail Education Instructor, Rex Venator

 

 

The following is based on my personal, layman’s opinion as a private citizen who is simply observing his civic duty.

 

I thought to follow up and add that the prior email on bounty hunters drafting moving papers and appearing in court for a bail bond surety isn’t applicable, in my personal opinion, with a licensed bail agent, appointed as an agent by the real party in interest bail bond surety moving a court, drafting and appearing under penal code law—so long as the bail agent is appearing for a sole proprietorship and not a bail bond corporation.

 

It is my personal, layman’s opinion that Penal Code §1305 subsection j does allow for “the bail agent” to draft and appear for an unincorporated bail bond company when he or she is appointed by the surety upon which the bond was written.

 

It is my personal, layman’s opinion that Penal Code §1305 subsection j carries greater weight and is deemed controlling over Business and Professions §6125 for the purposes of bail agents drafting and appearing on instant, civil matters injected into an existing criminal matter before a superior court.

 

There are published case cites, however, where the Civil Code of Procedures has sections that are controlling over certain Penal Code, bail related sections, but, for the purposes of this personal opinion analysis, bounty hunters who are not licensed bail agents and appointed by the surety do not have standing under Penal Code §1305 subsection j to draft and appear in superior court and are subject to Business and Professions §6125 penalty—in my personal, layman’s opinion.

 

It is my personal, layman’s opinion that the curiously lamented reference to an obscure California Civil Code of Procedure section that allows for a bounty hunter “surety insurer” to draft and appear in court is seriously flawed and fatal to any bounty hunter’s argument to the extent that Civil Code of Procedure 995.120 subsection a and b defines a “surety insurer” in part as follows: “‘Admitted surety insurer’ means a corporate insurer or a reciprocal or interinsurance exchange to which the Insurance Commissioner has issued a certificate of authority to transact surety insurance in this state, as defined in Section 105 of the Insurance Code,” “For the purpose of application of this chapter to a bond given pursuant to any statute of this state, the phrases ‘admitted surety insurer,’ ‘authorized surety company,’ ‘bonding company,’ ‘corporate surety,’ and comparable phrases used in the statute mean "admitted surety insurer" as defined in this section.”

 

Whereas, it is my personal, layman’s position that a bounty hunter appearing for a bail bond company as an independent contractor is, arguably, not drafting and appearing as an agent for the surety in any capacity and in such instances the matter in question then defaults to Business and Professions §6125 primarily because one well established structure of bail agents appearing for their own non-incorporated bail companies in superior courts reverts to another dictum based structure where, plainly stated, a private citizen—not even a corporate officer of the surety, which is also not applicable for the purposes of this personal, layman’s analysis—is somehow not even appearing in propria persona for the corporation and is likened to any person simply walking in off the street not to self-represent but to represent an entity that he or she isn’t even a corporate officer or shareholder of and all of which is because the bounty hunter is not a licensed bail agent who is appointed as an agent for any surety.

 

Consequently and in my personal, layman’s opinion, judicial action predicated on the unlicensed practice of law subjects the victims of a crime to collateral attack by county governments insofar that previously granted bail bond motions may be reversed at any time, thus causing the potentiality of tremendous harm to the parties of a private civil bail bond contract specifically and the California Bail Industry generally once a court loses jurisdictions to even consider repairing the damage irrespective of remedies buried in ancillary codes.

 

Furthermore, while California Penal Code §1305 subsection j allows for a surety appointed bail agent licensed by the California Department of Insurance to draft and appear for an unincorporated bail agency, there is no known statutory allowance for a corporate surety to unilaterally circumvent numerous related sections and in numerous applicable California Codes by summarily authorizing a common bounty hunter to practice law for a corporation—in my personal, layman’s opinion.

 

The civil and criminal liability may be further compounded, apart from a the unlawful practice of law by a common bounty hunter, if facts-in-evidence reveal that an attorney for a corporation, who is a lawyer, authorized the unlawful practice of law since exceptions may not be controlling over other California Codes—in my personal opinion.

 

In addition to the above paragraph, it may be a misdemeanor crime for any person to intentionally deceive or collude to deceive a court or any party by making oral arguments under Oath or by submitting any document that causes a court or person to believe that a common bounty hunter may practice law separate and apart from established law to the extent that any attorney who provides such evidence or document or opinion may knowingly be faced with a criminal charge, fine and, possibly, disbarment.

 

To be succinct in the interest of brevity, in my personal, layman’s opinion, a bounty hunter working as an independent contractor for a bail bond company is disallowed to appear under Penal law; moreover, Civil Code of Procedures does not apply because in the absence of Penal law applications the bounty hunter is then personally appearing for an incorporated surety where, arguably, said bounty hunter is engaging in the “unlicensed practice of law;” indeed, a corporation is not a natural person and cannot appear in propria persona; it can only appear through counsel with the exception of sending a corporate representative to small claims under Code of Civil Procedure section 116.510.

 

References

 

Thus California today defines law practice as providing “legal advice and legal instrument and contract preparation, whether or not these subjects were rendered in the course of litigation.” Birbower, Montalban, Condo & Frank, P.C . v Superior Court., supra, at 128. Providing legal advice or service is a violation of the State Bar Act if done by an unlicensed person, even if the advice or service does not relate to any matter pending before a court. (Mickel v. Murphy (1957) 147 Cal.App.2d 718, 721.)

 

The lead case on this is Paradise v. Nowlin (1948) 86 Cal.App.2d 897. Subsequent cases have affirmed its holding that corporations cannot appear pro per for three distinct reasons: (1) any representative sent on behalf of the corporation would be engaged in the unauthorized practice of law; (2) the rule ensures that qualified professionals will appear in court, thereby increasing the efficient and proper administration of justice; and (3) the distinction helps to maintain the wall between the corporation as an entity and its individuals shareholders, directors, and officers. (Id.; see also CLD Construction, Inc. v. City of San Ramon (2004) 120 Cal.App.4th 765, 773.)

 

A corporation is not a natural person, and therefore cannot appear in an action in propria persona. It can appear only through counsel. (Merco Construction Engineers, Inc. v. Mun.Ct. (Sully Miller Contracting Co.) (1978) 21 Cal.3d 724, 731.) This prohibition stems from the notion a corporate representative who would likely appear on behalf of the corporation would be engaged in the unlicensed practice of law. (Gamet v. Blanchard (2001) 91 Cal.App.4th 1276, 1284.) The prohibition against a corporation's “self-representation” in court also furthers the efficient administration of justice by assuring that qualified professionals present the corporation's case and assist the court in resolution of the issues; and it helps maintain the distinction between the corporation and its shareholders. (CLD Const., Inc. v. City of San Ramon (2004) 120 Cal.App.4th 1141, 1146.)

 

PC §1305 (j) A motion filed in a timely manner within the 180-day period may be heard within 30 days of the expiration of the 180-day period. The court may extend the 30-day period upon a showing of good cause. The motion may be made by the surety insurer, the bail agent, the surety, or the depositor of money or property, any of whom may appear in person or through an attorney.

 

PC §1305 (k) In addition to any other notice required by law, the moving party shall give the prosecuting agency a written notice at least 10 court days before a hearing held pursuant to subdivision (f), (g), or (j), as a condition precedent to granting the motion.

 

(PC 1305 Amended by Stats. 2012, Ch. 129, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2013.)

 

Business & Professions Re Practicing Law without a License or California Department of Insurance Bail Agent License References

 

6125.  No person shall practice law in California unless the person is an active member of the State Bar.

6126.  (a) Any person advertising or holding himself or herself out as practicing or entitled to practice law or otherwise practicing law who is not an active member of the State Bar, or otherwise authorized pursuant to statute or court rule to practice law in this state at the time of doing so, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in a county jail or by a fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment. Upon a second or subsequent conviction, the person shall be confined in a county jail for not less than 90 days, except in an unusual case where the interests of justice would be served by imposition of a lesser sentence or a fine. If the court imposes only a fine or a sentence of less than 90 days for a second or subsequent conviction under this subdivision, the court shall state the reasons for its sentencing choice on the record.

 

6127.5.  Nothing in Sections 6125, 6126 and 6127 shall be deemed to apply to the acts and practices of a law corporation duly certificated pursuant to the Professional Corporation Act, as contained in Part 4 (commencing with Section 13400) of Division 3 of Title 1 of the Corporations Code, and pursuant to Article 10 (commencing with Section 6160) of Chapter 4 of Division 3 of this code, when the law corporation is in compliance with the requirements of (a) the Professional Corporation Act; (b) Article 10 (commencing with Section 6160) of Chapter 4 of Division 3 of this code; and (c) all other statutes and all rules and regulations now or hereafter enacted or adopted pertaining to such corporation and the conduct of its affairs.

 

6128.  Every attorney is guilty of a misdemeanor who either:

 

(a) Is guilty of any deceit or collusion, or consents to any deceit or collusion, with intent to deceive the court or any party.

(b) Willfully delays his client's suit with a view to his own gain.

(c) Willfully receives any money or allowance for or on account of any money which he has not laid out or become answerable for.

 

Any violation of the provisions of this section is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or by a fine not exceeding two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500), or by both.---------------------END OF OPINION EDITORIAL