In West Virginia, laws governing bounty hunters can be found in Chapter 51, Article 10 A of the West Virginia Code. West Virginia bounty hunters are known as bail bond enforcer.
A bail bond enforcer means a person who on behalf of a bail bondsman enters the state or West Virginia or is present in the state for the purposes of[i]:
- assisting a bail bondsman in presenting the defendant in court when required;
- assisting in the apprehension and surrender of the defendant to a court;
- keeping a defendant under surveillance; or
- executing bonds on behalf of a bail bondsman when a power of attorney has been duly recorded.
Pursuant to W. Va. Code § 51-10A-2 (a), no person may act in the capacity of a bail bond enforcer within the state or perform any of the functions, duties, or powers prescribed for bail bond enforcers unless duly registered with the West Virginia state police.
W. Va. Code § 51-10A-2 (b) provides that the superintendent of the West Virginia state police designs registration, authorization and notice forms, which at minimum should require[ii]:
- Identifying information as to the registrant and at least one bail bondsman on whose behalf s/he is authorized to act as agent.
- A complete set of the registrant’s fingerprints, certified by an authorized law enforcement officer;
- A recent credential-sized, full-face photograph of the registrant;
- Certification, under penalties of perjury, that the registrant is at least twenty-one years of age, is a citizen of the U.S., and has never been convicted of a felony in any state of the U.S.;
- Authorization in writing from any bail bondsman on whose behalf the bail bond enforcer is authorized to enter the state or act within the state; and
- Other information as the superintendent determines is reasonable and necessary.
A bail bond enforcer may not[iii]:
- Enter an occupied residential structure without the consent of the occupants who are present at the time of the entry;
- Conduct a bail recovery arrest or apprehension without written authorization from a bail bondsman;
- Wear, carry, or display any uniform, badge, shield. or other insignia or emblem that implies that the bail bond enforcer is an employee, officer, or agent of the state, a political subdivision of the state, or the federal government. A bail bond enforcer may display identification that indicates his/her status as a bail bond enforcer only; or
- Conduct a bail bond apprehension or arrest without exercising due care to protect the safety of persons other than the defendant and the property of persons other than the defendant.
A person who willfully violates any statutory provisions or who acts as a bail bond enforcer within the state without filing a registration, authorization or notice, is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, will be fined not less than five hundred or more than ten thousand dollars, or imprisoned in the county jail not more than sixty days, or both fined and imprisoned[iv].
[i] W. Va. Code § 51-10A-1.
[ii] W. Va. Code § 51-10A-2.
[iii] W. Va. Code § 51-10A-4.
[iv] W. Va. Code § 51-10A-5.