Bail Bondsmen Fight to Protect their Turf

Published November 9, 2015 | By admin

By Thomas J. Cole / Journal Investigative Reporter
Sunday, November 8th, 2015 at 12:05am

Facing his second drunken driving charge in two years and a bench warrant for failing to comply with the sentence in his first DWI case, Jose Alberto Flores fled the state.

Flores didn’t have much to worry about when it came to law enforcement. It rarely tries to track down fugitives wanted on misdemeanor charges like DWI. Also, like other states, New Mexico doesn’t generally seek extradition of misdemeanor fugitives.

But Flores still had someone looking for him: his bail bondsman, Charles Archuleta, who runs the Santa Fe office of Gerald Madrid Bail Bonds.

For a $250 fee, Archuleta had posted a $2,500 bond to get Flores out of Santa Fe County jail in the second DWI case and faced the possibility of losing the $2,500 if Flores wasn’t apprehended.

“If I’m responsible for the guy, I take it seriously,” Archuleta says. “I’m going to go get him.”

He did – without incident – tracking Flores to a trailer home in Texline, Texas, handcuffing him, driving him back to Santa Fe and turning him over to law enforcement so he could be tossed in jail. And, Archuleta says, “It didn’t cost the state of New Mexico a dime.”

Flores, 43, pleaded guilty in September to DWI-second offense in state Magistrate Court and was ordered to serve 16 days in jail in lieu of paying fines and fees.

Bail bondsmen say their role in nabbing absconders – at no expense to taxpayers – is one of the benefits of requiring that defendants post commercial bail in order to be released from jail prior to trial.

“We provide hundreds of jobs, pay millions in taxes, provide community safety and get people to court so justice can be done,” says Albuquerque bail bondsman Gerald Madrid, president of the Bail Bond Association of New Mexico and a member of a family with three generations in the bail business across the state.

There are about 50 bail bond companies in the state, including more than a dozen in Albuquerque, and competition is intense, with some companies offering deals of little or no money down to get defendants out of jail. The companies, which make their money from fees, seldom have to forfeit bonds, but say that’s because they are good at getting clients to court.

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