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Unofficial Opinion 93-6

Unofficial Opinion 93-6

September 1, 1993
To: 

Judge,

Probate Court of Lee County

Re: 

By statute, the authority to approve or reject bail bonds written by a bonding company for traffic citations is given to the sheriff.

You have asked whether the probate court can refuse bonds written by a bonding company for traffic citations.  O.C.G.A. § 17-6-2 (b) provides in pertinent part:

[S]heriffs and constables shall accept bail in such reasonable amount as may be just and fair for any persons charged with a misdemeanor, provided that the sureties tendered and offered on the bond are approved by the sheriff in the county where the offense was committed.

In Jarvis v. J & J Bonding Co., 239 Ga. 213 (1977), the Supreme Court discussed what is now O.C.G.A § 17-6-2, which provides that the approval of sureties on misdemeanor bonds is within the sheriff's discretion.  While the Court remanded the case to the superior court due to a change in the law regarding felony bonds, the law did not change regarding misdemeanor bonds, leaving the approval or rejection  [*2]  within the sheriff's discretion.  Id. at 215.

This conclusion is consistent with opinions previously issued by this office.  Although the law has been since amended, the reasoning remains valid which concludes that the responsibility for approving or rejecting the surety on a criminal bail bond in a misdemeanor case is with the sheriff.  See 1976 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U76-39; 1977 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U77-29.

Therefore, it is my unofficial opinion that O.C.G.A. § 17-6-2 gives the sheriff complete authority to approve or reject bail bonds written by a bonding company for traffic citations.

Issued this 1st day of September, 1993.

Prepared by:

MELISSA J. LUNSFORD

Staff Attorney