in the Court of Appeals 7 August 2017.
by Wilson County Board of Education from order entered 3
October 2016 by Judge John J. Covolo in District Court,
Wilson County No. 15 CR 051891.
Schwartz & Shaw, P.L.L.C., by Kristopher L. Caudle and
Rebecca M. Williams, for Wilson County Board of Education,
brief for Michael Antoine Chestnut, Defendant-Appellee.
brief for Melissa Hines, Bail Agent.
brief for Agent Associates Insurance, L.L.C.,
Wilson County Board of Education ("the Board of
Education") appeals from the trial court's order
granting a motion to set aside a bond forfeiture filed by
Agent Associates Insurance, L.L.C. ("Surety"). For
the reasons discussed below, we vacate the trial court's
Antoine Chestnut ("Defendant") failed to appear in
Wilson County District Court on an underlying criminal charge
on 8 April 2016. On that same day, the trial court issued a
bond forfeiture notice for the forfeiture of an appearance
bond in the amount of $1, 500.00 posted by Melissa Hines
("Bail Agent") on Surety's behalf. The notice
set a final judgment date of 8 September 2016, and notice of
the bond forfeiture was given to Bail Agent and Surety on 11
Agent filed a motion to set aside the forfeiture ("the
motion to set aside") on 6 September 2016. A pre-printed
form, Form AOC-CR-213, is used for motions to set aside a
bond forfeiture. This form lists seven exclusive reasons,
pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-544.5, for which a
bond forfeiture may be set aside, along with corresponding
boxes for a movant to mark the specific reason(s) alleged for
setting aside the forfeiture. Bail Agent did not check any of
these boxes in this case. In addition to the motion to set
aside, however, Bail Agent submitted a letter stating that
Bail Agent "ha[d] been putting forth efforts to locate
[Defendant] and ha[d] been unsuccessful in doing so[, ]"
despite "spen[ding] $150.00 checking leads as to where
and how [Bail Agent could] locate [Defendant]." The
Board of Education filed a Form AOC-CR-213 objecting to the
motion to set aside on 12 September 2016.
trial court held a hearing on Surety's motion to set
aside on 3 October 2016. At the conclusion of the hearing,
the trial court allowed the motion, based on its finding that
Surety "ha[d] established one or more of the reasons
specified in [ N.C. G.S.] 15A-544.5 for setting aside [the]
forfeiture." The Board of Education appeals.
Standard of Review
appeal from an order setting aside a bond forfeiture,
"the standard of review for this Court is whether there
was competent evidence to support the trial court's
findings of fact and whether its conclusions of law were
proper in light of such facts." State v. Dunn,
200 N.C.App. 606');">200 N.C.App. 606, 608, 685 S.E.2d 526, 528 (2009) (citation
omitted); see also N.C. Gen. Stat. §
15A-544.5(h) (2015) (providing in part that "[a]n order
on a motion to set aside a forfeiture is a final order or
judgment of the trial court for purposes of appeal. Appeal is
the same as provided for appeals in civil actions.").
Questions of law, including matters of statutory
construction, are reviewed de novo. See In re
Hall, 238 N.C.App. 322, 324, 768 S.E.2d 39, 41 (2014)
(citation omitted) ("Resolution of issues involving
statutory construction is ultimately a question of law for
the courts. Where an appeal presents a question of statutory
interpretation, full review is appropriate, and we review a
trial court's conclusions of law de