Attorneys and Bondsmen

attorney and be newsmen

North Carolina law prohibits lawyers from having any kind of interest in bonding activities. In addition, the North Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct make it a professional ethical violation for an attorney to be involved in bonding activity.

The reason for this is that a bondsman's interests are often not aligned with the client's or defendant's interests. The bondsman has an interest in having the bond set as high as possible so that the fee paid to the bondsman is high. In North Carolina, a bondsman can charge up to 15% of the total bond as his fee. A bond of, for instance, $10,000 would yield a fee of $1500 to the bondsman at 15%. Many bondsman charge less than 15%. But you can see that if the bond is set high the bondsman makes more money.

A defense lawyer's goal is to have the bond set as low as possible so that his client can be released from custody as cheaply as possible and as efficiently as possible. A defense attorney who also has an interest, financial or otherwise, in the bonding company may have a conflict of interest. On the one hand, the attorney may have a financial interest in the bond being set high. On the other hand, the attorney has a professional obligation to have the bond as low as possible in the interest of his client.

North Carolina law, therefore, prohibits attorneys, sheriffs, judges, and other court personnel, from having any financial interest in the bonding company so as to not create a conflict, or the appearance of a conflict of interest.

In fact, North Carolina law makes it a class 1 misdemeanor for a lawyer to have a financial interest, directly or indirectly, in the bonding company.

North Carolina law does not prohibit an attorney from recommending a bondsman or number of bondsmen so long as he attorney has no financial interest in the recommendation so long as he is not being paid a fee for the referral or recommendation.

 

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Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.