Two California Appellate Court Decisions Vacate Forfeiture of Bail Bonds

by Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP

Two recent decisions by California Courts of Appeal reversed trial court rulings which denied surety company motions to vacate the forfeiture of bail bonds.

People v. International Fidelity Insurance Company was ordered published by the Court of Appeal for the Sixth Appellate District on January 24, 2013.

Saul Contreras was arrested on misdemeanor complaints of driving under the influence. International Fidelity posted bonds for his appearance in court. Contreras’s attorney, Michael Paez, appeared on Contreras’s behalf at arraignments and pretrial conferences. At the pretrial conferences, Paez advised the court that he had lost contact with Contreras and that he suspected Contreras was in Mexico.

The trial ordered the forfeiture of the bonds. International Fidelity filed motions to vacate the forfeiture of the bonds, arguing that Paez was authorized to appear on behalf of Contreras at the court proceedings. The Santa Clara County Counsel opposed the motions, arguing that Paez’s loss of contact with Contreras demonstrated the termination of Paez’s authority to represent Contreras at the proceedings. The trial court denied the motions to vacate the forfeiture of the bail bonds.

The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s denial of the motions. The court pointed to Penal Code section 977, which provides that an attorney may appear on behalf of a defendant in a misdemeanor driving under the influence case unless the court orders the defendant to be at a proceeding. In this case, there was no evidence that the court ordered Contreras to personally appear. The court rejected the argument that Paez’s loss of contact with Contreras removed his authority to represent Contreras; there was no evidence that Paez no longer had Contreras’s authorization to represent Contreras in court.

In the second case, the Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District issued its decision in People v. Western Insurance Company on January 30, 2013.  

Chester Dizon was arrested on a felony complaint. Western Insurance Company posted a bond for Dizon’s appearance in court. After the posting of the bond, the trial court granted Dizon permission to travel to the Philippines and ordered Dizon to appear for trial on the day after his specified return date. Dizon failed to appear for trial. The trial court ordered forfeiture of the bail bond. Western filed a motion to vacate the forfeiture. Western contended that the trial court failed to advise Western of Dizon’s request to travel to the Philippines and argued that “there’s no way our company would have agreed” to it. The trial court denied Western’s motion to vacate the forfeiture of the bail bond.

The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s denial of the motion. The court concluded that Western’s liability under the bail bond agreement was discharged because the court order permitting Dizon to leave the United States materially increased Western’s risk.

The Court of Appeal’s opinion cites the United States Supreme Court’s 1869 decision in Reese v. United States. In the Reese case, the Supreme Court explained that:

there is an implied covenant on the part of the principal with his sureties, when he is admitted to bail, that he will not depart out of this territory without their assent. There is also an implied covenant on the part of the government, when the recognizance of bail is accepted, that it will not in any way interfere with this covenant between them, or impair its obligation, or take any proceedings with the principal which will increase the risks of the sureties, or affect their remedy against him.”

The Court of Appeal noted that over a century later the ruling in the Reese case continues to be valid.


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP

Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.