June 28, 2005
There are new guidelines for bail bondsmen statewide and some businessmen aren't too happy with the changes.
Bobby Banks has been a bail bondsman in Charlottesville for 11 years. He says things in the business aren't the same anymore.
"I don't understand why they are enforcing all these new laws all of a sudden," said Banks.
Across the state, a new set of regulations will go into effect Friday. Bail bondsmen will now be licensed through the Department of Criminal Justice Services instead of through judges or the State Corporation Commission.
The Virginia State Crime Commission stated that during their initial study they "found several hundred bondsmen that had criminal backgrounds and that records maintained by courts were outdated."
In an effort to oversee the system better, bondsmen now have to pay a licensing fee of $450 every year, compared to about $50 before. They are also required to take a 24-hour training class and get thorough background checks.
"It's making the bail bondsman more professional, more accountable to the people that we deal with to the state and to the people we bond out and to the families that we're also helping," said local bondsman Bill Duncan.
According to the Virginia Bondsmen Association, the number of bondsman in the Commonwealth dropped from 1,300 to about 400 over the past couple years. Some say that now with the new regulations, it will plummet even more.
"If you're adding the $900, you're hurting the poor bail bondsman more so than the bad bail bondsman, because the bad bail bondsman has got money," said Banks.
However, Duncan believes it will simply weed out the less qualified bail bondsmen.
"I think it's getting rid of the part-time bail bondsman who do it part time and don't put 100 percent into it," he said.
According to DCJS, more than half of Virginia's bail bondsmen have already received their license. Any other license not issued through that Department will not be valid come Friday, July 1.