Licensing and Arrest Authority of Bounty Hunters


The person into whose custody an accused is remanded as part of the accuser’s bail has sweeping rights to recover that person.  In many states across the U.S., bail bondsmen employ bounty hunters to capture fugitives.  Bounty hunters capture fugitives for bounty ie., monetary reward.  In different states, bounty hunters are known by different names such as bail enforcement agent, fugitive recovery agent, runners, and bail fugitive investigator.  Pursuant to Burns Ind. Code Ann. § 27-10-1-9, a recovery agent means a person who is offered or given compensation by a bail agent or surety in exchange for assisting the bail agent or surety in apprehending or surrendering any defendant or keeping a defendant under necessary surveillance.

In the U.S., depending on the states in which they operate, bounty hunters have varying levels of authority in their duties.  Many of the states in the U.S. recognize bounty hunting as a profession such as New Hampshire.  Some states like Illinois prohibit bounty hunting.

Some states require a license to be a bounty hunter while others do not.  In some states, bounty hunters do not undergo any formal training, are generally unlicensed, and only require sanction from a bail bondsman to operate.  In some states bounty hunters must undergo a background check and must complete various courses.  Some states prohibit bounty hunters from carrying firearms without proper permits.  Some states require bounty hunters to wear identity cards while performing their duties.

Some states recognize arrest by bounty hunters.  Bounty hunters exercise only limited power to arrest fugitives.  When they affect arrest, a bounty hunter must obtain written authorization from the concerned bondsmen or the cout.  After arrest, the bounty hunter must surrender the fugitive to a peace officer or the state.

In some states, the Department of Safety and Homeland Security is responsible for overseeing the activity of Bounty Hunters and licensing Bail Enforcement Agents.  The Department of Insurance regulates them in some states.  In other states, the General Assembly controls the activities of bounty hunters.

Additionally, an out-of-state bounty hunter must comply with that state’s laws in which s/he enters for capturing a fugitive.