People v. Indiana Lumbermens Mut. Ins. Co – Case Brief Summary (California)

In People v. Indiana Lumbermens Mut. Ins. Co. (2010) 49 Cal.4th 301, bail was forfeited and a bench warrant was issued by Los Angeles County. (Id. at p. 304.) Well within 180 days of that forfeiture, the bail agent surrendered the defendant to the San Bernardino County Sheriff, who booked him on local drug charges and also placed a hold on him in the Los Angeles County case. The defendant was sent to prison on the San Bernardino County charges without the surety filing a motion to vacate the forfeiture in Los Angeles County within the 180-day period.

Lumbermens resolved a conflict in authority about "when a motion for relief from forfeiture of bail must be made if an absconding defendant is arrested or surrendered in a county other than the jurisdiction where the case is pending." (Id. at p. 304.) As quoted above, the court concluded that the 180-day period applies to "motions under section 1305 (c)(3)." (Id. at p. 308.)

In reaching that conclusion, the Supreme Court explained some of the provisions of the statute:

"Under Penal Code section 1305, a court appearance or return to custody in the county where the case was filed is treated differently from a return to custody outside the county. If the defendant appears during the 180-day period, 'the court shall, on its own motion at the time the defendant first appears in court on the case in which the forfeiture was entered, 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.' (§ 1305, subd. (c)(1).) The same disposition is required if the defendant is returned to custody within 180 days in the county where the case was filed, but released before making a court appearance. The court must act on its own motion to reinstate and exonerate the bond, and if it fails to do so exoneration is accomplished by operation of law. (§ 1305, subd. (c)(2).)

"On the other hand, when the defendant is returned to custody outside the county within the 180-day period, the statute provides only that 'the court shall vacate the forfeiture and exonerate the bail.' (§ 1305, subdivision (c)(3), hereafter section 1305(c)(3).) In this circumstance, the court is not directed to act on its own motion, and there is no provision for immediate exoneration if the court does not act." (Id. at p. 305.)

The court reasoned that a motion by the surety is required in that situation "because the court may not know that the defendant is in custody outside the county." (Id. at p. 306.)

Based on the differences among subdivisions (c)(1), (c)(2), and (c)(3), the Supreme Court concluded that "the Legislature has reasonably required that when the defendant is returned to custody outside the county, it is incumbent on the surety to bring a motion for relief from forfeiture." (Id. at p. 313.)