in the Court of Appeals 7 March 2017.
by judgment creditor from order entered 6 July 2016 by Judge
Gary M. Gavenus in Watauga County Superior Court. No. 15 CRS
brief was filed for Surety 1st Atlantic Surety
& Johnson, PLLC, by Nathan A. Miller, for Judgment
Creditor Watauga County Board of Education.
the motion to set aside the forfeiture of an appearance bond
did not contain the required documentation to support any
ground set forth in North Carolina General Statutes, section
15A-544.5, the trial court lacked statutory authority to set
aside the forfeiture of the appearance bond. Accordingly, we
vacate the trial court's order setting aside the
forfeiture of the bond.
appearance bond in the amount of $30, 000.00 was placed for
Robert Jerome Cobb to appear in Watauga County Superior Court
on 12 January 2016 on a felony charge in case number 15 CRS
050271. Due to Cobb's failure to appear, the Honorable
Gary M. Gavenus, Superior Court judge, ordered that
Cobb's $30, 000.00 appearance bond in that case be
forfeited. On 14 January 2016, a Deputy Clerk of Watauga
County Superior Court issued a bond forfeiture notice to
Cobb, as well as to 1st Atlantic Surety Company via
first-class mail. On 8 June 2016, Ulonda Hill, a bail agent,
moved the court to set aside the forfeiture. In the motion,
which was filed on form AOC-CR-213-a form with pre-set
options and check boxes-Hill checked that "defendant has
been surrendered by a surety on the bail bond as provided by
G.S. 15A-540, as evidenced on the attached 'Surrender Of
Defendant By Surety' (AOC-CR-214)." However, instead
of a Form CR-214, attached to the motion was a printout from
the Automated Criminal/Infractions System (ACIS). On 14 June
2016, an attorney for the school board filed an objection and
notice of hearing. The hearing was set for 5 July 2016. On 6
July 2016, the trial court entered an order finding
"that the moving party has established one or more of
the reasons specified in G. S. 15A-544.5 for setting aside
the forfeiture. . . . The . . . Motion is allowed and the
forfeiture is set aside." Judgment creditor Watauga
County Board of Education ("the Board") appeals.
appeal, the Board argues that the trial court erred by
finding that the moving party established a reason for
setting aside the bond forfeiture, pursuant to N.C. Gen.
Stat. § 15A-544.5. More specifically, the Board contends
that by submitting an ACIS printout rather than the required
AOC-CR-214 form, the bail agent failed to comply with section
15A-544.5 in seeking to aside the bond forfeiture. We agree
Statutes Chapter 15A, Article 26, Part 2 governs bail bond
forfeiture. "By executing a bail bond the defendant and
each surety submit to the jurisdiction of the court. . . .
The liability of the defendant and each surety may be
enforced as provided in this Part . . . ." N.C. Gen.
Stat. § 15A-544.1 (2015). "If a defendant . . .
released . . . upon execution of a bail bond fails on any
occasion to appear before the court as required, the court
shall enter a forfeiture for the amount of that bail bond . .
. ." Id. § 15A-544.3(a). "There shall
be no relief from a forfeiture except as provided in [section
15A-544.5]." Id. § 15A-544.5(a); see
also State v. Williams, 218 N.C.App. 450, 451, 725
S.E.2d 7, 9 (2012) (holding where forfeiture of an appearance
bond has not become a final judgment, G.S. § 15A-544.5
offers "[t]he exclusive avenue for relief");
State v. Sanchez, 175 N.C.App. 214, 623 S.E.2d 780
(2005) (holding the trial court lacked authority to grant the
surety's motion to set aside forfeiture of an appearance
bond where the motion was not premised on any ground set
forth in G.S. § 15A-544.5).
to subsection (b) of General Statutes, section 15A-544.5,
Except as provided by subsection (f)[ (which is not
applicable here)] . . . a forfeiture shall be set aside for
any one of the following reasons, and none other:
(1)The defendant's failure to appear has been set aside
by the court and any order for arrest issued for that failure
to appear has been recalled, as evidenced by a copy of an
official court record, including an electronic record.
(2) All charges for which the defendant was bonded to appear
have been finally disposed by the court other than by the
State's taking dismissal with leave, as evidenced by a
copy of an official court record, including an electronic
(3)The defendant has been surrendered by a surety on the
bail bond as provided by G.S. 15A-540, as evidenced by the
sheriff's receipt provided for in that section.
(4)The defendant has been served with an Order for Arrest for
the Failure to Appear on the criminal charge in the case in
question as evidenced by a copy of an official court record,
including an electronic record.
(5)The defendant died before or within the period between the
forfeiture and the final judgment as demonstrated by the