A bounty hunter is a person or a corporation which locates and captures or assists in capturing fugitives for a monetary reward or bounty. Bounty hunters offer their services to the bail industry. Usually, a bounty hunter is hired by a bail bond company.
There are freelance bounty hunters as well as bounty hunters employed by bail bondsmen. Bondsmen post their skips along with his/her information in the fugitive websites, where bounty hunters can view the wanted fugitive and the offered reward.
Bounty hunters invest in the search with their own money and resources hoping to locate and capture the fugitive so that they can collect their bounty. A bounty hunter is also known as bail enforcement agent, fugitive recovery agent, bail fugitive investigator, bail agent, fugitive recovery officer, or bail fugitive recovery specialist.
In general, bail enforcement is about learning a fugitive’s actions, interviewing their relatives and acquaintances, and looking up the paperwork regarding the fugitive. Often, research helps private investigators and agents to collect the required details which they need to find the wanted fugitives. Sometimes, bounty hunters advertise in newspapers with the word “reward” to track a fugitive.
Law provides number of techniques for certified bounty hunters to recover fugitives. Unlike police, bail enforcement professionals or bounty hunters are not limited by warrants and probable cause. However, violations of laws or regulations by bounty hunters shall make them liable. Louisiana law imposes penalties for violations of regulations by bail enforcement agents[i].
Bounty hunters may pursue fugitives even outside the state. They are also given the freedom to break into a home, provided they believe that there may be fugitives in hiding. Therefore, a fugitive recovery professional is more effective than the police in tracking down a fugitive.
Sometimes, bounty hunters should use surveillance to find a fugitive. Running background checks or impersonation also can be done in order to get close enough to the fugitive in order to verify their identity. A fugitive recovery does not end when the fugitive is captured. It comes to an end only when the bounty hunter has delivered the captured criminal to the courts.
Bounty hunting is legal only in the U.S. and the Republic of the Philippines. Other countries employ standard law enforcement agencies to recover suspects. The terms “bail bondsman” and “bounty hunter,” are often used interchangeably. Bounty hunters are authorized to arrest the fugitives. Some states require possession of licenses by bounty hunters. State laws regarding the law and licensure requirements for bounty hunters vary.
All states have some provision for the recovery of bail jumpers. However, not all states have laws that distinguish the bondsman and his contracted agent, the bail recovery agent or bounty hunter. Many states require that those performing the apprehension to be in possession of a certified copy of the undertaking. The purpose of this is to show that the bounty hunters have the authority to arrest the defendant, and the judicial or law enforcement officers to whom the defendant is surrendered will require it in order to protect them from a charge of false imprisonment.
For instance, in Delaware, the Delaware General Assembly declared that it is in the best interest of the citizens of Delaware to require licensure of bail enforcement agents and their agents and employees to prevent unqualified individuals from endangering the public. The purpose is to promote, preserve and protect the public health, safety and welfare by regulating fugitive recovery[ii].
Provisions of the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act apply to all of the states except Missouri and South Carolina.
[i] La. R.S. 22:1581.
[ii] 24 Del. C. § 5501.