In Washington, laws governing bounty hunters can be found in Chapter 18.185, Title 18 of the Revised Code of Washington. West Virginia bounty hunters are known as bail bond recovery agent.
Pursuant to Rev. Code Wash. (ARCW) § 18.185.010 (10), bail bond recovery agent means a person who is under contract with a bail bond agent to receive compensation, reward, or any other form of lawful consideration for locating, apprehending, and surrendering a fugitive criminal defendant for whom a bail bond has been posted. However, a bail bond recovery agent does not include a general authority Washington peace officer or a limited authority Washington peace officer.
An applicant must meet the following requirements to obtain a bail bond recovery agent license[i]:
- Submit a fully completed application that includes proper identification on a form prescribed by the director;
- Pass an examination determined by the director to measure his/her knowledge and competence in the bail recovery business;
- Be at least twenty-one years old;
- Be a citizen or legal resident alien of the U.S.;
- Not have been convicted of a crime in any jurisdiction, if the director determines that the applicant’s particular crime directly relates to a capacity to perform the duties of a bail bond recovery agent, and that the license should be withheld to protect the citizens of Washington state;
- Not have had certification as a peace officer revoked or denied, unless certification has subsequently been reinstated;
- Submit a receipt showing payment for a background check through the Washington state patrol and the federal bureau of investigation;
- Have a current firearms certificate issued by the commission if carrying a firearm in the performance of his/her duties as a bail bond recovery agent;
- Have a current license or equivalent permit to carry a concealed pistol;
- Pay the required nonrefundable fee for each application for a bail bond recovery agent license.
Pursuant to Rev. Code Wash. (ARCW) § 18.185.260, the director of licensing adopts rules establishing prelicense training and testing requirements for bail bond recovery agents, which includes not less than thirty-two hours of field operations classes. Further, the director of licensing may establish, by rule, continuing education and recertification requirements for bail bond recovery agents[ii].
A person may not perform the functions of a bail bond recovery agent unless the person is licensed by the department of licensing[iii]. Rev. Code Wash. (ARCW) § 18.185.280 provides that whenever a person licensed by the department of licensing as a bail bond recovery agent is engaged in the performance of the person’s duties as a bail bond recovery agent, the person must carry a copy of the license.
Before a bail bond recovery agent may apprehend a person subject to a bail bond in a planned forced entry, the bail bond recovery agent must[iv]:
- Have reasonable cause to believe that the defendant is inside the dwelling, building, or other structure where the planned forced entry is expected to occur; and
- Notify an appropriate law enforcement agency in the local jurisdiction in which the apprehension is expected to occur. Notification must include at a minimum: The name of the defendant; the address, or the approximate location if the address is undeterminable, of the dwelling, building, or other structure where the planned forced entry is expected to occur; the name of the bail bond recovery agent; the name of the contracting bail bond agent; and the alleged offense or conduct the defendant committed that resulted in the issuance of a bail bond.
During the actual planned forced entry, a bail bond recovery agent[v]:
- Should wear a shirt, vest, or other garment with the words “BAIL BOND RECOVERY AGENT,” “BAIL ENFORCEMENT,” or “BAIL ENFORCEMENT AGENT” displayed in at least two-inch-high reflective print letters across the front and back of the garment and in a contrasting color to that of the garment; and
- May display a badge approved by the department with the words “BAIL BOND RECOVERY AGENT,” “BAIL ENFORCEMENT,” or “BAIL ENFORCEMENT AGENT” prominently displayed.
[i] Rev. Code Wash. (ARCW) § 18.185.250.
[ii] Rev. Code Wash. (ARCW) § 18.185.260.
[iii] Rev. Code Wash. (ARCW) § 18.185.280.
[iv] Rev. Code Wash. (ARCW) § 18.185.300 (1).
[v] Rev. Code Wash. (ARCW) § 18.185.300 (2).