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Barrister
Barrister, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 24238
Experience:  14 yrs practice, Civil, Criminal, Domestic, Realtor, Landlord 24+ yrs
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Hi, I bailed my brother out of jail a few months ago (he has

Customer Question

Hi, I bailed my brother out of jail a few months ago (he has mental health disabilities). This is something I have never done and didn't know anything about it. I went through a bail bonds company as I was not local to the court and to pay the court directly, they required that it be done in person. I used A-1 Bail Bonds (Corpus Christi, Texas) and they said I had to put up 100% of the bond (which was $5000) plus their fee of $500. At the time that I made the payment, they assured me that the full bond amount of $5000 would be refunded to me once my brother went to court. My brother attended his court date and when I received the check in the mail from the bond company it was for only $2,000. I called them to inquire about the remaining $3,000 and they told me their "fee" was $3,500?! I was shocked - this is an outright lie. This entire transaction was done over the phone so there was nothing to sign. I'm in the process of disputing this with my credit card company but I'm not sure what else I can do. As I'm out of state, I imagine this is a scam tactic they use and get away with because it would cost more to fly out there and sue them. Any advice you can give me would be very much appreciated.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.
Hello and welcome! My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try my level best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can.
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Can you tell me what your brother was charged with?
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Do you know the outcome of his case as to any penalties he incurred (i.e. fines, jailtime, etc.)?
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Do you know if the bond was placed in brother's name directly? (typically a bond can be placed either directly in the defendant's name or kept in the payor's name on behalf of the defendant)
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Was the refund exactly $2000?
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Thanks
Barrister
Customer: replied 1 year ago.


Hi, thank you for your quick reply! He was charged with "obstruction or retaliation." I'm not positive of the outcome of the case, I think he was charged with a felony and released with two years probation. I can contact him about this if you'd like more details.


 


I don't know if the bond was placed in his name but I printed a copy from the court records online database of the bond records search detail. Underneath the bond # XXXXX surety amount, it lists Randy Garza with the A-1 Bonding address. Underneath that, is my brother's name and his information. So, I'm not sure if that is helpful at all.


 


Yes, the refund was exactly $2,000.


 


Thank you so much, I'm so frustrated with this whole thing! :(

Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.
Ok, the only reason I can think of why they would try to keep more than the customary 10% that bondsman charge is if the court imposed some type of fine or fees that would have been deducted from the posted bond. If the bond was placed in brother's name, as is typically the case, it is subject to deductions for any fines or fees that the court imposes as part of any penalty.
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So this bears a little more investigation into whether brother was charged some fine or fees that would result in you getting a reduced refund. If not, then they simply defrauded you and you would have grounds to file a formal criminal complaint for theft and to pursue this both criminally and civilly for a refund.
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I realize that geographically this might not be a feasible solution, but unfortunately it is the only one you have if they have unlawfully retained more than they were contractually allowed to.
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As an aside, although bail bondsmen have a historically questionable reputation, they could run the risk of losing their license to operate for something like this. With that said, it is kind of unlikely that they would risk losing their license for $3,000 so I am inclined to think that there was some rational explanation for the additional deduction.
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I just looked at their website and they clearly state that they charge 10% of any felony bond so this kind of reinforces my thought that there was some other type of fine or penalty associated with the case that was deducted from the posted bond...
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Thanks
Barrister
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Ah, that makes sense...but when we called after we received the check, they said that the $3,500 was their fee and they said that they had explained that to me when my credit card was charged (which they did not at all). For $3,500 I would've flown out and paid the court directly which I even initially debated while considering their $500 fee. Also, I forgot to mention this - After they charged my card, I received a receipt in the mail that said "amount paid $5,500" but at the bottom it also said "Collateral left $2,000" When I spoke with them asking about the remaining $3,000, they said because they sent this receipt to me after the fact means they only owe me $2,000. The whole thing is ridiculous and blatant fraud.


How do we find out if there were court fees/fines? I looked through the public records and at the bottom of his case details page, it says financial information...total amount due as of 10/03/2013 $311.50. $251 was assessed on 9/16/2011 and $60.50 was assessed on 9/4/2013.


 


Do you think this is worth pursuing as it's kind of a he said/she said case as there is no documentation to support either side? Even though, I think the facts of the situation are in my favor.


 


If I were to get an attorney in Texas, would they be able to represent me without me actually having to be present?


 


Thank you again

Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

Ok, I hate to say it, but based on that information, I think your initial suspicions may be correct and they basically lied and jacked up their fee after your conversation with them knowing it would be a he said/they said type of situation and you are out of state. They would provide the receipt as evidence that you agreed to their false terms if this got to court and swear under oath that you agreed to it....
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When you looked at the court records, that would accurately show what fines or fees were imposed for the case.
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Do you think this is worth pursuing as it's kind of a he said/she said case as there is no documentation to support either side? Even though, I think the facts of the situation are in my favor.

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Honestly, I think this would likely be a "pyrrhic victory". What I mean is that while I think you have a strong case, it would likely cost more to pursue than you could recover if you won.

 

If I were to get an attorney in Texas, would they be able to represent me without me actually having to be present?

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For the initial filing, you wouldn't have to be present, but for any court appearances, yes.
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I hate it, but I think this is one of those cases where there is a "wrong without a reasonable remedy".
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But if it were me, I would at least file a formal complaint with the TX Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division as well as with the Bail Bond Board in Corpus Christi as they regulate the licenses of bailbondsmen. They might be able to put pressure on them to refund at least some of your money over the 10% if they can't legally justify the charge.
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This is a link I found for the Board: Nueces County Bail Bond Board, Corpus Christi
http://www.co.nueces.tx.us/countyclerk/
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Click on "Bail Bonds Information" and then the "Bylaws" link for their address and contact info..
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Thanks
Barrister

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Yeah, I was kind of afraid of it costing more than it would be worth. Obviously being screwed out of $3,000 is a big deal but it's really the principle of this whole thing that bothers me the most. I'm sure I'm not the first person this has happened to but I want to at least make a big enough fit about it where hopefully it will prevent the same thing from happening to others.


 


Thank you so much for all of the helpful information you have provided. I will definitely be contacting the attorney general and the bail bond board. You have been extremely helpful and I really appreciate it! :)

Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.
You are very welcome. Glad I could help and I hope you are able to get some justice...
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Thanks
Barrister
Barrister, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 24238
Experience: 14 yrs practice, Civil, Criminal, Domestic, Realtor, Landlord 24+ yrs
Barrister and 2 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

Thanks so much for the positive rating and generous bonus, it is very much appreciated!

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It was my pleasure to work with you and help with your question. Please feel free to ask for me if you need help with anything in the future and I will do everything I can to help or get you to someone who can.

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Barrister

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Barrister
Barrister
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24238 Satisfied Customers
14 yrs practice, Civil, Criminal, Domestic, Realtor, Landlord 24+ yrs