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COVID-19 Notice »

COVID-19 Update to Bail Bond Agencies, Agents, and Surety Companies

Sent April 1, 2020

On March 27, 2020, the Critical Sector Workers Definitions and Clarifications document was revised to include bail bond agents under the Law Enforcement, Public Safety, and First Responders exemption list. At this time, bail bond agencies and their agents may continue to issue bail bond paperwork (702 Form and bond power documents) in person.
 
Courtrooms remain open for business on limited basis, with access to court facilities subject to conditions imposed at some locations by county officials. The clerk’s counter in the court facility and self-help services and facilities will be limited to electronic and telephone services until further order of this court. Emergency contact e-mail information is located on the Judicial Branch’s website for each county facility, and court staff will consistently monitor those email accounts. Supreme Court Order No. ADM20-8001, paragraph 12 (filed March 20, 2020). 
 
Additional information about adjustments to the Bail Bond Program operations is available on the COVID-19 link on the Bail Bond Program webpage.


Sent March 23, 2020

On Friday, March 20th, Chief Justice Lorie Gildea issued a Supreme Court Order No. ADM20-8001 (Order), effective March 23, 2020, establishing temporary procedures for district court case processing. Please see the Minnesota Judicial Branch COVID-19 webpage for the statewide order issued by Justice Gildea on March 13, 2020.
 
The Order states, in part,
 
“Public access to courtrooms will be limited to the parties in the case who are participating in the hearing, attorneys who represent those parties, and any necessary court staff, and other individuals the presiding judge determines are necessary to conduct the hearing.”

Posting Bail Bonds
In an effort reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus, bail bond companies and agents should call court administration to confirm the bail amount rather than attend court hearings. It is recommended that agents call ahead to jail facilities to learn of any restrictions or new procedures in place for visiting the facility and/or posting a bail bond. Bail bonds should be posted with the Sheriff’s department, and not at the courthouse.
 
Bail Bond Applications
Bail bond program applications will be reviewed once a week, until further notice. Please be sure to carefully review each application to ensure there is no missing information, as this will delay the processing of the application.
 
Forfeiture and Reinstatements
Bail bond agencies, agents, and sureties are still responsible for timely payment of forfeited bonds as ordered by the court.  Payment of forfeited bonds can be mailed to the court.  Any new or pending motions and petitions for reinstatement, discharge, or extension of time for bail bond obligations will not be granted hearings until further notice.  If you already have a hearing date, you may want to contact the court to confirm the hearing will be held as scheduled. 
 
Pre-Suspension and Suspension
Pre-suspension and suspension processes as provided in the Bail Bond Procedures will be deferred until further notice.  Bail bond agencies, agents, and sureties are still responsible for payment of past due forfeited bonds.  Payment should be mailed to the court.  
 
Court users should continue to monitor the Minnesota Judicial Branches COVID-19 Information webpage for further updates and instructions.

 
 

Overview

Minnesota district courts allow appearance-only bail bonds to be filed for a defendant’s release from jail in criminal matters. Bail bond agents, bonding agencies, and sureties issuing bail bonds in Minnesota's district courts must be approved by the State Court Administrator’s Office (SCAO). Approval is based on the Minnesota General Rules of Practice for the District Courts Rule 702 and the Bail Bond Procedures.

Once approved by SCAO, agents, agencies, and surety companies may issue bail bonds in any district court throughout the state. Approvals are dependent on appropriate licensing by the Minnesota Department of Commerce. Approved agents, agencies, and surety companies are listed on the Approved Bail Bond Agents List. Bail bonds issued in the district courts must include a completed copy of CRM702 - Bail Bond for Appearance Only and a surety Power-of-Attorney (POA).

SCAO also oversees the complaint, review, and suspension processes for approved agents, agencies, and surety companies.
 


Important Information for Bonding Agencies and Agents

Revisions to the Bail Bonds Procedures and CRM702 - Bail Bond for Appearance Only go into effect on October 15, 2018. Revisions include:

  • Addition of the Qualifications, Duties, Roles, and Responsibilities sections.
  • New and updated application procedures for bonding agents, agencies, and surety companies.
  • New and updated Standards of Conduct.
  • Revisions to CRM702 - Bail Bond for Appearance Only remove the requirement of a witness signature on the form. Rule 702(d) requires the use of this form when issuing a bail bond in Minnesota district courts.

 


The Approved Bail Bond Agents List includes all agents, agencies, and surety companies approved by the State Court Administrator's Office (SCAO) to issue bail bonds in Minnesota district courts. If an agent, agency, or surety company is not listed they are not allowed to issue bail bonds in district courts.

All bonding privileges are subject to renewal according to the Minnesota General Rules of Practice for the District Courts, Rule 702(a).

The Bail Bond Procedures set bail bond program policies that are applicable to applicants, agents, agencies, and surety companies.

The Bail Bond Program Notices are applicable to all bail bond agents, agencies, and surety companies and provide guidance on notification requirements set by the Bail Bond Procedures.

Revisions to the Bail Bond Procedures go into effect on October 15, 2018.

If you have questions about the Bail Bond Program Notices or the Bail Bond Procedures contact the Bail Bond Program.

Bail bond agents, agencies, and surety companies must be approved and on the Approved Bail Bond Agents List before issuing bail bonds in Minnesota district courts. See the Minnesota General Rules of Practice, Rule 702(a).

By submitting an application to the State Court Administrator's Office (SCAO), you acknowledge that you have read and understand the Bail Bond Program Notices and that you will comply with the requirements after approval. Failure to comply with the Bail Bond Program Notices may result in the denial or revocation of approval.

Applications are processed when the application is complete and all required documentation is received. Each application form includes a list of required documentation. Approval notifications are sent by mail to the agent, agency, and surety company.

If you do not understand the information in the Bail Bond Program Notices or you have questions about the application process, contact the Bail Bond Program.
 

New Bail Bond Agent Application

An agent must complete this application if one of the following applies:

  • Applicant has never applied to be a bail bond agent with the Minnesota district courts.
  • Applicant was previously approved, but has been inactive for more than three months.

Important Reminder: The Criminal Background Check form must be sent directly to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. The form and instructions are located on the last page of the New Bail Bond Agent Application.

 

Renewal Bail Bond Agent Application

Approved agents must renew their approval every two years. When an approved agent receives a Notice of Renewal from SCAO, the agent must complete and submit the Agent Renewal Application Form to SCAO on or before June 1 of the applicant’s renewal year. Agents who submit a renewal application after June 30 will not be reauthorized to issue bail bonds in Minnesota until their application is approved.

If an agent does not submit a renewal application, the agent’s name will remain on the Approved Bail Bond Agents List with an expired status for 30 days and will then be removed.

Change of Bail Bond Agency Application

Complete the Change of Bail Bond Agency application if you are an approved bail bond agent who wants to issue bail bonds for a different bonding agency.

Bail bond agents changing bonding companies are prohibited from engaging in bail bond work until the submitted application has been approved.

Change of Bail Bond Agency Application
 

Change of Information Request

Approved agents, agencies, and surety companies must have valid contact information on file with SCAO. Contact information includes a valid mailing address, email address, and phone number.

Complete the Change of Information Request if one of the following applies:

  • The contact information for an agent, agency, or surety changes.
  • A new surety is added to a agent’s or agency's information.

Change of Information Request
 

*New* Bail Bond Agency and Surety Application

Agencies must be licensed by the Minnesota Department of Commerce and registered with the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State to do business in Minnesota district courts. Surety companies must be registered with the Minnesota Department of Commerce. Agencies and surety companies must be approved by SCAO to issue bail bonds in Minnesota district courts.


Complete the Bail Bond Agency and Surety Application if:

  • An agency or surety company has never applied or been approved by the SCAO.
  • A previously approved agency or surety company has received a Notice of Renewal from SCAO.
  • A previously approved agency or surety company has been inactive for three months or more. 

Bail Bond Agency and Surety Application
 

How do I know if someone is approved to issue bail bonds in Minnesota district courts?

Bail bond agents, agencies, and sureties approved to issue bail bonds in Minnesota district courts are listed on the Approved Bail Bond Agents List. The list is used to verify an agent's approval to issue bail bonds and to verify the agency and surety for whom the agent is authorized to issue bail bonds.

 

How do I become a bail bond agent in Minnesota?

Individuals must obtain approval from the State Court Administrator’s Office (SCAO) to issue bail bonds in Minnesota districts courts as a bail bond agent. Applicants must obtain a license from the Minnesota Department of Commerce, submit a New Bail Bond Agent Application, and a criminal background check from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Applicants must also maintain a bonding agency affiliation and at least one surety appointment to be considered for approval.
 

I am an approved bail bond agent. Why is my name not listed on the Approved List?

Bail bond agent names may be removed for various reasons, including:

  • Failure to meet Bail Bond Agent Qualifications (Bail Bond Procedures, section III)
  • Expired approval status
  • Loss of Department of Commerce licensure
  • Loss of sole surety appointment
  • Disciplinary sanctions

 

I have a criminal history. Can I be approved to work as bail bond agent?

SCAO requires each agent applicant to submit a criminal background check report from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. SCAO staff review criminal history reports along with the other application materials to determine whether an agent’s application should be approved or denied. Criminal convictions are not a basis for automatic denial, but are factored into the application decision. Standards for Denial of bail bond applications are provided in Section V.A.4. of the Bail Bond Procedures.
 

What are the Standards of Conduct for agents and agencies?

Bonding agencies, agents and surety companies are expected to conduct themselves ethically and professionally while doing business with the Minnesota Judicial Branch. Each has a responsibility not only to the defendants, defendant’s families and the courts, but also to the continuing improvement of bail bond services. Bonding agents, agencies, and sureties are responsible for their personal conduct or the conduct of their agents while conducting bail bond business with and in the courts. The Bail Bond Procedures Standards of Conduct are provided in section VI.
 

How do I get a bail bond agency approved to issue bonds in Minnesota district courts?

Bonding agencies must obtain approval from the SCAO to issue bail bonds in Minnesota districts courts as a bonding agency. To apply, bonding agencies must obtain a license from the Minnesota Department of Commerce and submit a Bail Bond Agency and Surety Application. Applicants must maintain at least one surety appointment to be considered for approval.
 

How do I change bail bond agencies?

Agents must submit a Change of Agency Application Form to the SCAO who will approve or deny the application. A Change of Agency application must be approved before an agent may begin issuing bail bonds for the new bonding agency.
 

What information am I required to report to the SCAO?

Bail bond agents are required to report changes to their contact information or criminal charges or convictions. Details and timelines for reporting information to SCAO are noted in the Bail Bond Program Notices and required by the Bail Bond Procedures.
 

How do I file a complaint against an agent or agency?

Complaints related to violations of the Bail Bond ProceduresStandards of Conduct by bail bond agents and bonding agencies, may be submitted to the SCAO according to section VII. Complaints will be evaluated to determine whether the allegations, if true, would constitute grounds for discipline.