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South Dakota

In South Dakota, laws governing bounty hunters can be found in Chapter 22, Title 58 of the South Dakota Statutes.  South Dakota bounty hunters are known as runners.

Pursuant to S.D. Codified Laws § 58-22-1 (5), a runner means a person employed by a bail bondsman for the purpose of assisting the bail bondsman in presenting the defendant in court when required or to assist in the apprehension and surrender of a defendant to the court, or keeping defendant under necessary surveillance.

S.D. Codified Laws § 58-22-3 gives a list of persons or classes who may not be runners and may not directly or indirectly receive any benefits from the execution of any bail bond.  They are[i]:

  • jailers,
  • police officers,
  • committing magistrates,
  • magistrate court judges,
  • sheriffs,
  • deputy sheriffs,
  • constables, and
  • any person having the power to arrest or having anything to do with the control of federal, state, county, or municipal prisoners.


The violation of the above provision is a Class six felony.

Pursuant to S.D. Codified Laws § 58-22-4, a person may act in the capacity of a runner or perform any of the functions, duties, or powers prescribed for runners only if that person is qualified and licensed.  Acting in the capacity of a runner without being licensed is a Class six felony[ii].

An applicant for a license to serve as a runner should affirmatively show[iii]:

  • That the applicant is a natural person who has reached the age of twenty-one years;
  • That the applicant is a citizen of the U.S. and has been a bona fide resident of the state of South Dakota for more than one year last past;
  • That each appointing bail bondsperson is obligated to supervise the applicant’s activities, and be responsible for the applicant’s conduct in the bail bond business; and
  • That the applicant has not been convicted of, nor has pled guilty or nolo contendere to, a felony or of any crime involving moral turpitude.


S.D. Codified Laws § 58-22-13 provides that each runner’s application should be accompanied by a license fee of thirty dollars and an appointment fee of ten dollars for each bail bondsperson employing the applicant and should be submitted to the director with each application for a license to serve as a runner, together with fingerprints and photograph.   The employing bail bondsperson is responsible for submitting the application and appointment fee.

S.D. Codified Laws § 58-22-16 requires the applicant to appear in person and take a written examination prepared by the director testing his/her ability and qualifications to be a runner.

Pursuant to S.D. Codified Laws § 58-22-22, if it appears to the satisfaction of the director that a runner has been guilty of violating any of the laws of the state relating to bail bonds, the director should, upon ten days’ notice in writing to the runner, accompanied by a copy of the charges of the unlawful conduct of such runner, suspend the license of such runner.

However, if on or before the expiration of the ten days the runner provides to the director an answer to the charges, the license will not be suspended.  If, after the expiration of said ten days, and within twenty days thereafter, the runner fails to make answer or deny said charges the license of the runner thereupon stands revoked[iv].

Pursuant to S.D. Codified Laws § 58-22-27, every person duly licensed as a bail bondsperson may appoint as a runner any person who holds or has qualified for a runner’s license.  Each bail bondsperson appointing a runner should file with and obtain approval from the director for each appointment which should be in a format prescribed by the director and pay a fee of ten dollars[v].

[i] S.D. Codified Laws § 58-22-3.

[ii] S.D. Codified Laws § 58-22-4.

[iii] S.D. Codified Laws § 58-22-12.

[iv] S.D. Codified Laws § 58-22-22.

[v] S.D. Codified Laws § 58-22-27.

Inside South Dakota