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Tentative Ruling
Judge Pauline Maxwell
Department 6 SB-Anacapa
1100 Anacapa Street P.O. Box 21107 Santa Barbara, CA 93121-1107


County of Santa Barbara vs Financial Casualty & Surety Inc

Case No: 17CV05124
Hearing Date: Wed Jan 10, 2018 9:30

Nature of Proceedings: Motion: Set Aside Summary Judgment on Bond Forfeiture

TENTATIVE RULING: The motion is granted. The summary judgment entered on the bond forfeiture shall be set aside, the January 26, 2017 order of forfeiture vacated, and the bond exonerated.


Background: Criminal defendant Theresa Nelson was released on bail following her arrest for violations of Penal Code sections 148.9(a) [providing false identification to specific peace officer], and 485 [appropriating lost property], posting Bond No. FCS10-1723268. On January 26, 2017, she failed to appear at a scheduled Readiness & Settlement Conference. A Bench Warrant was issued, and a Notice of Forfeiture was filed, the latter of which had a Certificate of Mailing date of February 19, 2017.

On June 1, 2017, Nelson was arrested, placed in custody, and cite released by the Santa Maria Police Department, under Citation 408987. The Citation makes clear on its face that the arrest was on the underlying warrant. Nelson was released without appearing on the case; the court file reflects no scheduled hearings or appearances in the case between January 26, 2017 and October 30, 2017. On July 18, 2017, the warrant was recalled because of defendant’s cite release status. Although an additional bench warrant was issued when Nelson failed to appear at the October 30, 2017 arraignment on the warrant, that non-appearance was unrelated to the January 26, 2017 bail forfeiture currently at issue.

On November 14, 2017, the Court entered Summary Judgment on Bail Bond Forfeiture, on Bail Bond FCS101723268. On the same date, the court clerk executed and mailed the Notice of Entry of Summary Judgment Bail Bond Forfeiture.

RPI Financial Casualty& Surety, Inc., through Bail Hotline Bail Bonds, filed the current Motion to Set Aside Summary Judgment on Bond Forfeiture on December 12, 2017.

Motion: RPI Financial Casualty & Surety, Inc., moves to set aside the summary judgment entered on the bond forfeiture. The motion is based upon the provisions of Penal Code section 1305(c)(2), upon the argument that the court was required to vacate the order of forfeiture and exonerate the bond, after Nelson was arrested within Santa Barbara County (by the Santa Maria Police Department), and that entry of summary judgment on the bond forfeiture was therefore improper.

County was properly served with the motion to set aside the summary judgment on the bail forfeiture, through service upon both the District Attorney’s Office and the Office of County Counsel. County has not filed opposition to the motion.

Analysis: The motion is granted. The court will set aside the summary judgment entered on the bond forfeiture, vacate the January 26, 2017 order of forfeiture, and exonerate the bond.

Penal Code section 1305 provides, in relevant part:

(a)(1) A court shall in open court declare forfeited the undertaking of bail or the money or property deposited as bail if, without sufficient excuse, a defendant fails to appear for any of the following:

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(D) Any other occasion prior to the pronouncement of judgment if the defendant’s presence in court is lawfully required.

When Nelson failed to appear at the January 26, 2017 Readiness & Settlement Conference, the trial court declared forfeited the bail, within the meaning of Section 1305(a)(1).

Section 1305 provides further, in relevant part:

(c) (2) If, within the county where the case is located, the defendant is surrendered to custody by the bail or is arrested in the underlying case within the 180-day period, and is subsequently released from custody prior to an appearance in court, the court shall, on its own motion, direct the order of forfeiture to be vacated and the bond exonerated. If the court fails to so act on its own motion, then the surety’s or depositor’s obligations under the bond shall be immediately vacated and the bond exonerated. An order vacating the forfeiture and exonerating the bond may be made on terms that are just and do not exceed the terms imposed in similar situations with respect to other forms of pretrial release.

On June 1, 2017, Nelson was arrested on the warrant by the Santa Maria Police Department and cite released. Because of her cite-released status, the warrant was recalled on July 18, 2017. Her arrest and release from custody prior to appearing in court by a law enforcement agency within Santa Barbara County brought her within the provisions of Section 1305(c)(2), requiring the court to vacate the order of forfeiture and exonerate the bail. The trial court did not do so. Pursuant to section 1305(c)(2), its failure to act on its own motion immediately vacated the surety’s obligations under the bond and exonerated the bond. As a result, the trial court’s ultimate entry of summary judgment on the forfeiture was improper. Having met the requirements set forth in Section 1305(c)(2), there no longer existed a forfeiture that could be the subject of such a summary judgment.

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