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State of New Jersey v. Michael Meyer

December 12, 2011

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
MICHAEL MEYER, DEFENDANT, AND ALLEGHENY CASUALTY COMPANY, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Cumberland County, Indictment No. 08-07-157-S.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted March 2, 2011

Before Judges R. B. Coleman and Lihotz.

Appellant Allegheny Casualty Company, appeals from a May 21, 2010 order granting eighty-five percent partial remission of the forfeited bail bond of defendant Michael Meyer. The corporate surety posted a $50,000 bail bond to assure the appearance of defendant, who subsequently failed to appear. Appellant argues the forfeiture amount of $7,500 is excessive in light of the circumstances. We find no abuse of discretion and, therefore, affirm the court's judgment.

According to Richard Sparano, agent for appellant, after the surety posted the bond on September 4, 2008, defendant was required to report regularly and he remained compliant. However, on January 4, 2010, sixteen months after the bail was posted, defendant failed to appear in court. Appellant was notified on January 12, 2010, and defendant was re-apprehended on January 15, 2010.

On April 12, 2010, appellant moved to vacate the bail forfeiture and for discharge of the bail posted. The trial court granted remission of eighty-five percent. The Law Division found Remission Schedule II applicable and that the case fell into the category between partial and substantial remission. The court based its decision on its finding that the supervision by appellant was substantial but became "a little relaxed towards the end of it." This appeal ensued.

"[T]he decision to remit and the amount of remission lies essentially in the discretion of the trial court." State v. Ventura, 196 N.J. 203, 213 (2008) (citing State v. Peace, 63 N.J. 127, 129 (1973)). We therefore, review the court's decision for an abuse of discretion.

The list of factors a court should consider before remission are:

(a) whether the applicant is a commercial bondsman; (b) the bondsman's supervision, if any, of defendant during the time of his release; (c) the bondsman's efforts to insure the return of the fugitive; (d) the time elapsed between the date ordered for the appearance of defendant and his return to court; (e) the prejudice, if any, to the State because of the absence of defendant;

(f) the expenses incurred by the State by reason of the default in appearance, the recapture of the fugitive and the enforcement of the forfeiture; [and] (g) whether reimbursement of the expenses incurred in (f) will adequately satisfy the interests of justice.

[State v. Hyers, 122 N.J. Super. 177, 180 (App. Div. 1973).] "The surety has the burden of proof, and it must provide facts that favor remission based on its efforts." State v. Toscano, 389 N.J. Super. 366, 376 (App. Div. 2007) (citing State v. Mercado, 329 N.J. Super. 265, 269-70 (App. Div. 2000)).

Appellant argues the court erred by not properly considering all applicable factors. Specifically, appellant argues the court failed to consider the amount of the bond ($50,000), the quick recapture of the defendant (three days), and the lack of expense and prejudice to the State. We disagree with all of the appellant's contentions as they are without support in the record. The record clearly shows the court listed and analyzed the factors stating:

Number one is whether the Surety made a reasonable effort under the circumstances to affect the ...


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