In New Jersey, laws governing bounty hunters can be found in Chapter 19, Title 45 of the New Jersey Statutes.
Pursuant to N.J. Stat. § 45:19-29, a bounty hunter means and includes any bail runner, bail recovery agent, bail enforcement agent, fugitive recovery agent or any other person who for fee, hire, or reward:
- makes any investigation or investigations as to the location or whereabouts of any person who has violated the provisions of bail or has failed to appear in any court of law in the state of New Jersey or any other state, when so required by law, or has failed to answer any charge, subpoena, or court ordered inquiry, when so required by law;
- engages in or assists in the apprehension, arrest, detention, confinement, surrender, or securing of any such person; or
- keeps any such person under surveillance.
N.J. Stat. § 45:19-29 further provides that the term bounty hunter means and includes any person who owns or operates any agency, firm, association, corporation, or other entity which is organized primarily for the purpose of engaging in any of the above enumerated activities, and to any employee, agent, associate, or subcontractor of any such agency, firm, association, corporation, or other entity who performs any of the functions, activities, or services of a bounty hunter.
However, the term bounty hunter does not mean or include law enforcement officers, while in the actual performance of their duties[i].
N.J. Stat. § 45:19-30 provides that a person should engage in the business of, perform, or offer to perform the functions, activities, or services of a bounty hunter, or advertise or hold a business out to be that of a bounty hunter, only if the person is licensed by the superintendent. Further, any person who violates this provision will be guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.
An application for licensure as a bounty hunter should be submitted to the superintendent by the applicant on a form and in a manner prescribed by the superintendent and should contain the following information[ii]:
- the full name, age, which should be at least 25 years, and residence of the applicant;
- the full and complete employment history of the applicant;
- verification that the applicant has had at least five years of law enforcement experience as a law enforcement officer with an organized law enforcement agency;
- the location of the applicant’s proposed principal place of business and any office, bureau, agency, or subdivision; and
- such further information as the superintendent may require to show the good character, competency, and integrity of the applicant.
Pursuant to N.J. Stat. § 45:19-31 (b), any person who knowingly makes a false statement in or knowingly omits any material information from the application will be guilty of a crime of the fourth degree in addition to any other crime or offense specified by law.
Each applicant for licensure as a bounty hunter should submit to being fingerprinted in accordance with applicable state and federal laws, rules, and regulations for the purpose of a criminal history record background check to be performed by the superintendent[iii].
N.J. Stat. § 45:19-37 provides that any person who is required to be licensed pursuant to the provisions of this statute that enters any premises or dwelling without license or privilege or who employs the use of unlawful force in engaging in or assisting in the apprehension, arrest, detention, confinement, surrender, securing, or surveillance of any person who has violated the statutory provisions will, in addition to any other criminal penalties provided under law, be guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.
Pursuant to N.J. Stat. § 45:19-42, the superintendent, through rule and regulation, may establish an education and training program for bounty hunters who make application to be licensed. The program will consist of such subjects and courses as the superintendent may deem appropriate and may include a minimum number of hours of classroom or other instruction.
[i] N.J. Stat. § 45:19-29.
[ii] N.J. Stat. § 45:19-31 (a).
[iii] N.J. Stat. § 45:19-32.