In Georgia, the bounty hunters are known as bail recovery agents. Laws governing bail enforcement agents in the state can be found in Chapter 6, Title 17 of the Official Code of Georgia.
The term bail recovery agent is defined in the Code as “any person who performs services or takes action for the purpose of apprehending the principal on a bail bond granted in this state or capturing a fugitive who has escaped from bail in this state for gratuity, benefit, or compensation[i].”
Pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 17-6-56, a bail recovery agent in the State of Georgia must satisfy the following requirements. They are:
- the agent must be a U.S. citizen,
- the agent must be twenty five years of age or older; and
- the agent must obtain a license from a judge of a probate court.
Additionally, the sheriff of a county requires the professional bondsman who is a resident of or doing business in the sheriff’s county to register his/her bail recovery agents in that county. The professional bondsman must submit to the sheriff, in a form and manner to be determined by the sheriff, a list of all bail recovery agents whose services are to be used by such a bondsman[ii].
Pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 17-6-56.1, the Georgia Association of Professional Bondsmen approves continuing education programs offered by professional associations, educational institutions, government agencies, and others as deemed appropriate for bail recovery agents to attend.
A bail recovery agent who enters any local police jurisdiction in pursuit of and for the purpose of apprehending the principal on a bail bond or capturing a fugitive or engaging in surveillance of such principal or fugitive shall, prior to taking any action in his/her capacity as a bail recovery agent in that local police jurisdiction, notify by facsimile transmission or telephone the sheriff and police chief of the local police jurisdiction in which the surveillance, apprehension, or capture is to take place[iii].
In the case of an out-of-state bail recovery agent, s/he must submit proof to the sheriff or police chief that s/he is qualified to be a bail recovery agent under the requirements of his/ her home state. An out-of-state bail recovery agent must deliver a certified copy of the bail bond or of the forfeiture or failure to appear to the sheriff or chief of police[iv].
Pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 17-6-57, all professional bondsman must issue a uniform identification card to each bail recovery agent registered by the professional bondsman. The identification card must include the bail recovery agent’s name, height, weight, address, photograph, and signature. The identification card shall also include the signature of the professional bondsman who has registered the bail recovery agent. A bail recovery agent is required to carry such identification card while acting in the capacity as a bail recovery agent[v].
A bail recovery agent who fails to register with the local sheriff or who is otherwise unqualified to act as a bail recovery agent but who nonetheless attempts to apprehend or capture a principal on a bail bond or a fugitive or who succeeds in apprehending or capturing such person shall be guilty of a misdemeanor upon conviction for the first violation. S/he will be guilty of committing a felony upon conviction for the second and all subsequent violations punishable by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years[vi].
Pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 17-6-58, a bail recovery agent must not wear, carry, or display any uniform, badge, shield, card, or other item with any printing, insignia, or emblem that purports to indicate that such bail recovery agent is an employee, officer, or agent of any state or federal government or any political subdivision of any state or federal government. Upon conviction, the violator will be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years, or a fine of not more than $10,000.00, or both[vii].
A bail recovery agent entering upon the wrong property, causes damage to said property, or causes injury to anyone thereon is liable for all damages[viii].
[i] O.C.G.A. § 17-6-56.
[iii] O.C.G.A. § 17-6-57.
[vi] O.C.G.A. § 17-6-58.