In North Carolina, laws governing bounty hunting can be found in Article 71, Chapter 58 of the General Statutes of North Carolina. A bounty hunter is known as a runner in the state.
A runner is defined as “a person employed by a bail bondsman for the purpose of assisting the bail bondsman in presenting the defendant in court when required, assisting in the apprehension and surrender of defendant to the court, keeping the defendant under necessary surveillance, or executing bonds on behalf of the licensed bondsman when the power of attorney has been duly recorded.” However, the term runner does not include a duly licensed attorney-at-law or a law-enforcement officer assisting a bondsman[i].
In North Carolina, a person can act as a runner only with the license issued for the same. Only individual natural persons are entitled to act as a runner. The applicant must apply for a license on forms prepared and supplied by the Commissioner of Insurance (the Commissioner). The Commissioner can propound reasonable interrogatories to an applicant about the applicant’s qualifications, residence, prospective place of business, and any other matters that the commissioner considers necessary to protect the public and ascertain the qualifications of the applicant. The Commissioner conducts reasonable inquiry or investigation relative to the determination of the applicant’s fitness to be licensed or to continue to be licensed. A person whose application is denied can reapply. However, the Commissioner cannot consider more than one application submitted by the same person within any one-year period[ii].
After issuing a license, the commissioner issues a picture identification card of design, size, and content approved by the Commissioner to the licensee. All licensees must carry this card at all times when working in the scope of the licensee’s employment. A licensee whose license terminates or is terminated must surrender the identification card to the Commissioner[iii].
A license issued to a bail bondsman or to a runner authorizes the licensee to act in that capacity until the license is suspended or revoked. Upon the suspension or revocation of a license, the licensee must return the license to the Commissioner. After notifying the Commissioner in writing, a professional bondsman who employs a runner may cancel the runner’s authority to act for the professional bondsman[iv].
Pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 58-71-75, a license of a bail bondsman and a license of a runner must be renewed on July first of each year upon payment of the applicable annual renewal fee.
In order to act as a runner in North Carolina, an applicant must[v]:
- have reached the age of eighteen;
- have obtained a high school diploma or its equivalent;
- be a resident of the state of North Carolina;
- have knowledge, training, or experience of sufficient duration and extent to provide the competence necessary to fulfill the responsibilities of a licensee;
- have no outstanding bail bond obligations;
- have no current or prior violations of any provision of this Article 77 of the North Carolina General Statute;
- not have been in any manner disqualified under the laws of the state or any other state to engage in the bail bond business;
- hold a valid and current North Carolina driver’s license or valid North Carolina identification card issued by the division of motor vehicles; and
- provide to the Commissioner at least two of the documents as proof of residency in this State.
Pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 58-71-50, upon receipt of an application for a license as a bail bondsman or runner, the Commissioner conducts a criminal history record check to determine whether the applicant meets the requirements for a license.
Additionally, an applicant for a license to be a runner must affirmatively show[vi]:
- that the applicant will be employed by only one professional bondsman, who will supervise the work of the applicant and be responsible for the runner’s conduct in the bail bond business; and
- that the application is endorsed by the appointing professional bondsman, who must agree in the application to supervise the runner’s activities.
When the applicant previously functioned as a runner, s/he must list all outstanding bail bond obligations. An applicant who has been licensed as a runner must list all prior employment as such, indicating the name of each supervising professional bondsman and the reasons for termination of the employment[vii].
Pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 58-71-70, an applicant for a license as a runner must appear in person and take an examination prepared by the Commissioner testing the applicant’s ability and qualifications. In order to be eligible to take the examination required to be licensed as a runner or bail bondsman, the applicant must complete at least twelve hours of education in subjects pertinent to the duties and responsibilities of a runner, including all laws and regulations related to being a runner[viii].
All runners in the state are prohibited from doing certain acts. A runner must not:
- pay a fee, rebate, or give or promise anything of value, directly or indirectly, to a jailer, law-enforcement officer, committing magistrate, or any other person who has power to arrest or hold in custody, or to any public official or public employee in order to secure a settlement, compromise, remission or reduction of the amount of any bail bond or the forfeiture thereof, including the payment to law-enforcement officers, directly or indirectly, for the arrest or apprehension of a principal or principals who have caused or will cause a forfeiture;
- pay a fee or rebate or give anything of value to an attorney in bail bond matters;
- pay a fee or rebate or give or promise anything of value to the principal;
- participate in the capacity of an attorney at a trial or hearing of one on whose bond s/he is surety, nor suggest or advise the employment of, or name for employment any particular attorney to represent his/her principal;
- accept anything of value from a principal or from anyone on behalf of a principal except the premium, which shall not exceed fifteen percent (15%) of the face amount of the bond;
- solicit business in any of the courts or on the premises of any of the courts of this State, in the office of any magistrate and in or about any place where prisoners are confined;
- loitering in or about a magistrate’s office or any place where prisoners are confined shall be prima facie evidence of soliciting;
- advise or assist the principal for the purpose of forfeiting bond;
- impersonate a law-enforcement officer;
- falsely represent that the bail bondsman or runner is in any way connected with an agency of the federal government or of a state or local government[ix].
[i] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 58-71-1.
[ii] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 58-71-40.
[iv] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 58-71-45.
[v] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 58-71-50.
[vi] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 58-71-65.
[viii] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 58-71-71.
[ix] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 58-71-95.