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Bail forfeited after suspect missed SLO court date due to deportation 

A Los Angeles-based bail bond company is out $100,000 after a suspected felon failed to make his date in SLO County court because he'd allegedly been deported.

Greg Jaquez Bail Bonds, a company based out of Hawthorn, lost its legal appeal surrounding the forfeiture of a $100,000 bond in the 2016 case of Darwin Alexis Mendoza. According to court records, the company argued that it was entitled to get the money back because Mendoza was detained and later deported by immigration officials after being released on bond.

click to enlarge BAIL FAIL A Los Angeles-based bail bond company lost an appeal of a $100,000 bond forfeiture after one of its clients failed to show up to a hearing in SLO County Court because he was being held by immigration officials. - FILE PHOTO BY JAYSON MELLOM
  • File Photo By Jayson Mellom
  • BAIL FAIL A Los Angeles-based bail bond company lost an appeal of a $100,000 bond forfeiture after one of its clients failed to show up to a hearing in SLO County Court because he was being held by immigration officials.

Mendoza was arrested and charged with five felony counts of grand theft and five felony counts of second-degree burglary by the SLO County District Attorney's Office. Greg Jaquez Bail Bonds posted the $100,000 bond to secure Mendoza's release from custody. When Mendoza missed a April 7, 2016, pre-preliminary hearing, the court ordered that the bond be forfeited.

In its briefs to the SLO County Superior Court, and later the appellate court, the company argued that it should get the money back because Mendoza was far from being "in the wind." He was an undocumented immigrant from Honduras who was in ICE custody and facing deportation. Under California law, companies can seek to have a bail bond forfeiture vacated if a defendant is temporarily or permanently made unable to appear in court because they are in the jurisdiction of another agency that won't extradite them.

According to the appeals court, while the company filed a motion asking the court to vacate the bond forfeiture within the appropriate 180-day period, they did not include sufficient evidence proving Mendoza was in ICE custody at the time or had been deported. According to the appeal court's written opinion, some evidence was eventually presented to indicate that Mendoza was in ICE custody under an alias, and that he'd been deported and banned from returning to the United States for 20 years.

Despite being granted two continuances, the company failed to come up with the evidence in time. At the time, a SLO County judge accused the company of "sitting on its hands." The appeals court appeared to agree with that assessment in its Dec. 20 opinion on the case.

"The evidence was not presented until after the expiration date of the appearance period," the opinion stated.

This isn't the first time such a scenario has fallen into the lap of the state's appeals court. In 2011, the court ruled against a surety company's request to vacate a $100,000 bail forfeiture in the case of Luciano Villa, who was charged with a DUI in Los Angles County but was deported two days after his release.

The attorney who represented the bail bond agent in the case, Bradley Valdemar Petersen, said such scenarios were not uncommon for many bail agents in California and indicated that the problem might occur more frequently as federal immigration officials continue to ramp up enforcement.

"The noose is just tightening, and they are making it harder and harder for them to keep their businesses open," he said. Δ

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