In New York, laws governing bounty hunting can be found in Article 7 of the New York Consolidated Law. Bounty hunters are known as bail enforcement agents in the state and their behavior is explicitly regulated by state law.
Pursuant to NY CLS Gen Bus § 71, a bail enforcement agent means and includes “only the business of bail enforcement and shall also mean and include, separately or collectively, the engaging in the business of enforcing the terms and conditions of a person’s release from custody on bail in a criminal proceeding, including locating, apprehending, and returning any such person released from custody on bail who has failed to appear at any stage of a criminal proceeding to answer the charge before the court in which he may be prosecuted.”
In New York, the department of state has the power to issue a separate license to bail enforcement agents. Pursuant to NY CLS Gen Bus § 70, a person cannot engage in the business of bail enforcement agents or advertise his/her, their, or its business to be that of a bail enforcement agent without obtaining from the department of state a license.
Pursuant to NY CLS Gen Bus § 72, a written application to conduct the business of a bail enforcement agent must be filed in the office of the department of state on forms provided by the department containing such information and documentation, including fingerprints, as the secretary of state requires by rule and regulation.
The applicant must together with such application submit to the department of state, his/her photograph, taken within six months prior thereto in duplicate, in passport size, and also two sets of fingerprints of his/her two hands[i].
All applications for a license as bail enforcement agent shall establish to the satisfaction of the secretary of state that[ii]:
the applicant has been regularly employed, for a period of not less than three years, performing such duties or providing such services as a sheriff, police officer in a city or county police department, or the division of state police, investigator in an agency of the state, county, or U.S. government, or employee of a licensed private investigator, or has had an equivalent position and experience or that such person or member was an employee of a police department who rendered service therein as a police officer for not less than twenty years or was an employee of a fire department who rendered service therein as a fire marshal for not less than twenty years; and
the applicant has satisfactorily completed a basic certification course in training for bail enforcement agents offered by a provider that is approved by the secretary of state; or such person or member must have served as a police officer, for a period of not less than three years[iii].
Pursuant to NY CLS Gen Bus § 74, the application must be accompanied by a non-refundable fee, payable to the department of state for the use of the state, for each certificate of license issued to the applicant.
After the examination, inquiry, and investigation made as the secretary of state shall deem proper, and when the secretary of state is satisfied of the good character, competency, and integrity of such applicant, the department of state issues and delivers to such applicant a certificate of license to conduct such business. The license granted a bail enforcement agent lasts for a period of two years. However, the license is revocable at all times by the department of state for cause shown[iv].
Pursuant to NY CLS Gen Bus § 76, when an unexpired license certificate issued is lost or destroyed without fault on the part of the holder, the department issues a duplicate license certificate or pocket card for the unexpired portion of the term of the original license certificate. The secretary of state must receive a non-refundable fee of ten dollars for issuing a duplicate certificate of license or identification card[v].
Pursuant to NY CLS Gen Bus § 80, upon the issuing of a license, the department of state issues to each person making and filing a statement, a pocket card of such size and design as the department of state prescribes. The card contains a photograph of the licensee, the name and business address of the licensee, and the imprint or impress of the seal of the department of state. It is the evidence of due authorization from the department[vi].
In New York, the law specifies the prohibited acts of a bail enforcement agent. The prohibited acts on the part of a license holder include:
- to incite, encourage, or aid in the incitement or encouragement of any person or persons who have become a party to any strike;
- to do unlawful acts against the person or property of any one;
- to incite, stir up, create, or aid in the inciting of discontent or dissatisfaction among the employees of any person, firm, limited liability company, or corporation with the intention of having them strike;
- to interfere or prevent lawful and peaceful picketing during strikes;
- to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of their right to form, join, or assist any labor organization of their own choosing;
- to interfere or hinder the lawful or peaceful collective bargaining between employees and employers;
- to pay, offer, or give any money, gratuity, favor, consideration, or other thing of value, directly or indirectly, to any person for any verbal or written report of the lawful activities of employees in the exercise of their right of self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations and to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing;
- to advertise for, recruit, furnish, or replace or offer to furnish or replace for hire or reward, any help or labor; and
- to use, display, cause to be printed or distributed cards, letter-heads, circulars, brochures, or any other advertising material or advertisement in which any name or indicia of the license status of the licensee is set forth in any manner other than the name under which the licensee is duly licensed[vii].
Pursuant to NY CLS CPL § 530.80, a bail enforcement agent can take a principal into custody at any place in the state. S/he must do so by written authority on a certified copy of the bail bond from the surety empowering him/her to do so.
[i] NY CLS Gen Bus § 72.
[iv] NY CLS Gen Bus § 74.
[v] NY CLS Gen Bus § 76.
[vi] NY CLS Gen Bus § 80.
[vii] NY CLS Gen Bus § 84.