Bail Bonds Agent Charged With Break-In

An entry door was kicked in and a glass window pane shattered during a Jan. 20th break-in at the home of Teresa Horne of Kenly. Horne says a bail bonds agent broke into her home looking for a bail skipper who previously rented the Ollie Road rental home before she moved in 4 months ago. Photo by Teresa Horne

A local bail bonds agent is facing criminal charges after breaking into a Johnston County home looking for a man who skipped bail.

At issue is a 152 year-old law that reportedly gives bail bonds agents the right to forcibly enter a home.   The agent says the law clearly protects her even though a magistrate allowed for misdemeanor charges to be taken out against the bounty hunter.

On Saturday January 20th, Teresa Horne and her son left home around 6:15pm to run a few errands. When they returned about three hours later to their home on Ollie Road near Kenly, Horne said it had been burglarized and ransacked.

Horne said her back door had been kicked in, glass in the door shattered, furniture moved around, and a TV knocked off a dresser and damaged by someone opening an attic access door.  Two 9mm shell casings were also found on the porch.   Every light had been left on in the house, even though Horne had left the home dark.  Her inside dog was also very frightened.

Horne immediately contacted the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office to report a break-in at the rental home she had been living in since September 1, 2017.  A deputy arrived and told Horne, DNA Bail Bonds of Smithfield had forcibly entered her home looking for Allen Ray Hales, a former tenant who had not lived at the address for 7 months.   Horne said the deputy refused to take a report documenting the break-in.

Horne said she contacted Dawn Holden Daniels, an agent with DNA Bail Bonds in Smithfield who allegedly admitted to breaking into the home looking for Hales.  Daniels reportedly claimed she had videotaped the entire incident and had even contacted the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office to notify them prior to committing the break-in.

Horne said the bail agent claimed she had probable cause to forcibly enter the home without a warrant because the hood to one of 4 cars parked in the yard was warm and a clothes dryer inside the home was running, evidence Daniels claimed was enough to indicate someone was inside the home.  Two gunshots were allegedly fired into the air by Daniels to “subdue my dog” Horne told WTSB News.

Horne said she asked DNA Bail Bonds to pay for the damages but they refused, claiming an 1866 law allows bail bonds agents the right to forcibly enter a home if they suspect an individual they are searching for is inside.  In addition, the agent declined to clean up any of the damage including the broken glass.

Horne said a magistrate asked a second deputy to return to the Ollie Road home and take a report documenting the break-in and damage. Afterwards, Horne was allowed to take out two misdemeanor criminal summons against the 44 year-old bail bonds agent charging Daniels with breaking and entering and injury to property.

A TV is knocked off a dresser and damaged during a break-in by an agent with DNA Bail Bonds of Smithfield. The agent says an 1866 US Supreme Court ruling allows bail bonds agents to forcibly enter homes while looking for a client. Photo by Teresa Horne

Agent Defends Right To Forcibly Enter Homes

WTSB News spoke with Dawn Daniels with DNA Bail Bonds of Smithfield on Monday.  In a telephone interview, Daniels said, “The law gives us the right to enter into homes. All the documents I have listed her address on the court record. We are regulated. A Supreme Court ruling allows us.”

Daniels is referring to an 1866 US Supreme Court (Taylor vs. Taintor) ruling giving bail bondsman sweeping rights to recover a suspect. A section of the ruling, involving a case against a Connecticut man who failed to appear in court, stated agents “…may break and enter his house for that purpose.” The same ruling allows agents to pursue a defendant into another state and also arrest a person on the Sabbath.

“It is an unfortunate situation,” Daniels said. “Taylor versus Taintor protects us.  In that ruling it says we may break and enter. If she lives in a rental situation, it is unfortunate for her. We are not out there knocking down peoples doors.”

“So many people make bondsmen look bad. They want to make us look like we are not following the law,” Daniels said. “If I was trying to hide something I wouldn’t have called the sheriff’s office before I breached the door.”

Daniels claims she found multiple documents in Horne’s home with the bail-skippers name on it.  Horne denies those allegations saying she never knew the former tenant or his name until the break-in.

“Who’s to say she doesn’t know him,” Daniels said. “We have people tell us at the front door they are not in there when they are. It could be an ex-girlfriend. Maybe she lived with him. There was documents on the property with his name on it.”

Allan Ray Hales, the person Daniels and DNA Bail Bonds was searching for on Jan. 20th still hasn’t been located. Daniels said his phone numbers have been disconnected and he has stopped communicating with bond agents.

Legal Rights
According to a 2014 post by Shea Denning with the UNC School of Government, bondsmen may use reasonable force to apprehend a person – even before the bond is forfeited.  Bail agents may lawfully break and enter a principal’s residence to take custody of a person on bond. It also includes, Denning wrote, “to overcome the resistance of a third party who impedes their efforts to apprehend a person on bond.”

“Nevertheless, the power of bondsmen, while broad, is limited in scope,” Denning wrote. “Bondsmen may not forcibly enter into the home of a third party to recapture a principal unless the person with whom they contracted lives in the home.”

And that is center of this case.  Daniels claims a warm car hood and a clothes dryer in operation were enough evidence to suggest Hales was inside the home.

Marla Sink, spokesperson for the NC Department of Insurance (NC DOI) said it appears Daniels and DNA Bail Bonds may have “acted in good faith” at Horne’s home but failed to perform adequate “due diligence.” The agents involved, Sink says, will be asked to appear before the NC DOI to explain their actions.

Prior Complaints
The NC Department of Insurance regulates bail bonds agents and their activities in North Carolina. According to Sink, 12 complaints have been filed against Dawn Holden Daniels and Nikki DeShawn Daniels since 2010.  Horne’s break-in was not one of those complaints.

According to Selma Police, Dawn Daniels fired a gun in the air while attempting to apprehend a suspect in the Selma city limits in October 2010.  Daniels told police the man she was after, Jamiel Kenzie Davidson, had cornered her next to a fence. However, witnesses claimed Daniels fired the shots while running after Davidson.  Daniels was charged by police with discharging a firearm in the city limits.  The charge was later dismissed.

Sink said N.C. Department of Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey is dedicated to improving the N.C. Bail bonding system.  His first act was to create a standalone bail bond regulatory division to oversee not only bail bondsmen and their employees, but the surety companies that operate within the state.  He has also made great strides to improve the pre-licensing and continuing education for bail bonding.  These improvements, along
with others that will soon be released, are sure to improve consumer confidence in this area.

Two shell casings from a handgun are shown on the porch of a Kenly home. The shots were reportedly fired by an agent with DNA Bail Bonds to scare a dog inside a home as a bail bondsman broke into a home Jan. 20th looking for a client. The client had reportedly not lived at the address for 7 months. Photo by Teresa Horne

Disputed Telephone Call
Horne is a self-employed accountant and has a magnetic sign on one of her cars advertising her business and her cell phone number.

Agent Daniels saw the magnetic sign on the car in Horne’s yard. Daniels said she called the telephone number attempting to reach someone but no one answered.

Horne said she had her cell phone with her the entire 3 hours she was away from home January 20th. Horne contends Daniels never called.

December Incident
WTSB News has learned agents from DNA Bail Bonds were among bounty hunters from several different agencies at Becky’s Log Cabin on US 70 East of Smithfield on December 16, 2017 when a man fleeing in car was shot.   Some of the agents – police haven’t said from which company – approached a car near the hotel in an attempt to locate an individual to revoke their bail.  As agents closed in on the car, the vehicle struck one of them. As the vehicle fled, other agents fired several shots at the fleeing car striking a passenger.

Police have never released the names of the bail bonds agents including those who fired the shots, but WTSB News has confirmed agents with DNA Bail Bonds were at the scene when the incident occurred.

Dawn Daniels said bail bonds agents are often portrayed as law breakers.  In the Kenly break-in Daniels says the law is on her side. She says she has been in contact with her attorney Bob Denning of Selma about the Kenly incident.

Daniels would not directly respond to a question asking if she had offered to pay for the damages to Hale’s rental home.   A court judge is set to hear the case against Daniels on February 27th.