Louie Perez with Concho Bail Bonds has served the San Angelo Community for more than 25 years by providing efficient and easy release from jail.
San Angelo LIVE! got the opportunity to visit with Mr. Perez firsthand to get insight into this long-time career as a bail bondsman.
The Beginnings of a Bondsman
According to Occupations Code Chapter 1704 published by the Texas Legislative Council, a bail bond is a cash deposit, similar deposit or written undertaking that guarantees the appearance of a defendant in a criminal case.
In the 1970s, bail bonds were not regulated as they are currently. Perez compared many of those people attempting to provide this service as having a Wild West mentality. He said there were no rules or compliance regarding this trade. Instead, many attorneys would post bonds for their clients.
When the Supreme Court passed the Miranda rights act, making it a law that anybody being arrested were read and provided their rights, the world of bail bondsmen became a more regulated business.
Hence, in 1990, Perez started his career and later went full time in 1996. His father inspired his future.
Perez said the many clients he witnessed his father working for prior to his start were people who had made mistakes, and were simply looking for fair representation. His father was one of two bilingual attorneys listed for San Angelo in the 1970s and he felt obligated to help those individuals who couldn't speak English, Perez said.
“Those are the stories that I hope really inspire the next generation because there is a certain amount of gratification being a great civil servant," Perez explained. "If [we] can help other people, then that’s the most important part of the job.”
A Learning Experience
Perez spoke of his first account as a bondsman. He said he was waiting outside the house of a wanted fugitive on a Christmas Eve. He knew the individual would be returning to her residence the following day. She had missed her pre-trial two weeks prior to the holiday season and it was his job to locate the fugitive.
“I knew [the fugitive] was going to come back to [her] house on Christmas Day, so I sat there on Christmas Eve and waited until they pulled up to the house,” Perez recalled.
At this point, Perez and his brother-in-law, who came to assist in the apprehension, used their vehicles to block off the front and back of the house so the woman couldn’t drive away. Perez then proceeded to knock on the door. However, the fugitive answered with a less than pleasant reaction.
“I had no training, and I wasn’t a police officer, so I had to grab her by the arm and attempt to get her outside the house,” said Perez.
At that point, Perez said he tried as best he could to explain to the woman that he was going to go with her and talk with the officers who would put her in custody. Unfortunately, although the woman said she would comply, she attempted to flee for the back door when Perez attempted to take her outside. Perez had to restrain the woman with the handcuffs he had brought with him.
Perez acknowledged there is a lot of prior learning and skill that goes into apprehending an individual, and despite his feelings of success in that case, he knew this attempt would be less than passing for those training to be officers.
The fugitive was being aggressive throughout the ordeal, and Perez said the only option he had was to handcuff the woman to a tree while his brother in-law called a peace officer. Upon arrival, police officers were able to calm the woman down and detain her successfully.
“This is where I figured there needs to be better legislation and procedure to make apprehensions," Perez said. "Licensed professionals, people who have been trained need to do it.”
If the fugitive had a weapon in this instance, Perez said those involved could have sustained serious injuries. As a bail bondsman, Perez continues to support the regulations put in place to secure the safety of all parties involved in this process.
A Normal Day for a Bail Bondsman
On a normal day, Perez will attend pre-trials and court hearings with his clients. He explained he is not an attorney for them, but he provides support during their time on trial.
He continues with the philosophy that everybody should want to help others, and the people he represents need that help in most cases.
Perez works directly with Tom Green County, and a predetermined amount of money is attached to his name that can help with posting bail for his clients.
There is also a 10 percent fee associated for his services. This fee changes as court costs get more expensive. Perez said these fees have changed over time.
If a client does not appear in court on the days scheduled, then the bail bondsman associated with that client is expected to pay back the bail in full for the client. This case is brought forth before the judge and the bail bondsman presents his or her case in a civil court. Perez mentioned the judge can dismiss the charges or equity can be provided in some cases where the judge is understanding as to why the defendant could not be present at the hearing.
As for the qualifications to be a bail bondsman, Perez said a law degree is not required. A degree would only help with providing understanding of the legal process inside the court room. However, some requirements include being 18 years of age, holding U.S. Citizenship, and being a resident of the state the bondsman serves in.
After applying and receiving the license, bail bondsmen are expected to renew their license every two years, with eight hours of continued legal education as well.
The Stereotypes of Bail Bondsmen
Perez also addressed the stereotype of bounty hunters being associated with bail bondsmen. He said there are set regulations in the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure that regulate what a bail bondsman can do when looking for a wanted fugitive. These include what jurisdiction they can work within, the warrant associated with a fugitive, and the discharge of fugitive to the sheriff of the county where the prosecution is pending.
Perez added that only a certified peace officer can apprehend a fugitive, and this would be done after locating the suspect and then calling the officer to finalize the apprehending of the suspect. He mentioned that a bail bond agency can send out wanted posters and warning letters to the community regarding these fugitives.
Overall, there are a lot of challenges bondsmen face, and people may look down at them for helping people who commit crimes. For Perez, however, he has spent more than two decades helping his community.