"a person who pursues wild animals or outlaws for whose capture a bounty is offered".
Everyone has read about them in books and seen them portrayed on television or in movies. However, when we hear the name Bounty Hunter we think of images from the old west -- the wanted posters offering a reward and "Wanted Dead or Alive".

A Bounty Hunter (or as they may be called today fugitive recovery agent, bail enforcement agent or the like) is a person who locates and apprehends fugitives for a bail bond company in exchange for a fee amount.
How it works:

First a person is accused and charged with a crime.

After being charged with a crime, the person is then arrested. As long as the crime isn't a capital offense, the person has the right to bail.
There are three basic ways to get out of jail by posting bail in California and the rules are basically the same in other states.

  • Cash Bail Bond
  • Property Bond
  • and the most common -- a Private Surety Bail Bond

  • CASH BAIL - When a person, also known as the co-signer, pays the total amount of the bail in cash to the court clerk. The defendant must make all required court dates. When the case is complete the co-signer, would then be reimbursed the full bail amount by the court.

    PROPERTY BOND - When a person, also known as a co-signer, puts up the deed to their property in which they have twice the amount of the total bail in equity with the court clerk. When the case is complete, if the defendant completes all required court apperances, the co-signer would get back the deed to their property.

    PRIVATE SURETY BOND - When a co-signer pays a bail bond company a percentage of the bond ( in California this fee is 10%) to secure the release of a defendant. The bonding company then writes a bail bond and has an agent post the bail. After the defendant completes all required court appearances and the bond is exonerated, the co-signer is released from the liability. The percentage paid to the bonding company is a non-refundable fee.
    If a defendant who is out on bail fails to show up for a court appearance, a warrant will be issued for their arrest and a bail forfeiture will be sent to the bail bond company.
    The defendant is then considered a wanted person or fugitive.
    When this happens, the bail bond company will hire a Bounty Hunter to find and recover the fugitive. A Bounty Hunter works for a percentage of the bail amount, not really a reward.
    A Bounty Hunter is not law enforcement and does not have police powers.

    However, the profession of a Bounty Hunter is not to be taken lightly.
    They have the right to follow wanted persons across state lines.

    Bounty hunters are allowed to cross state lines without an extradition treaty.
    Unlike a police officer, a bounty hunter does not need a warrant to apprehend a fugitive and can enter private property, even break and enter their home.
    They can arrest the fugitive at any time.

    To be a Bounty Hunter, one must know how the bail bond industry works and be in compliance with all state laws. Bounty Hunters must always know the laws in the state they are working in. Not all states have the same laws in regard to capturing a fugitive.
    In addition, the Bounty Hunter must be proficient in other skills such as skip tracing, surveillance, negotiation and being able to detect deceit. A Bounty Hunter must also know how to research and investigate missing persons. He must be able to dig into the fugitive's past and learn the fugitive's habits, vices, friends, enemies and hangouts. A Bounty Hunter must become the ultimate investigator.

    Since a Bounty Hunter can only apprehend those fugitives who have skipped bail, payment is typically in the range of 10% to 50% of the full bail amount. This can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for a Bounty Hunter with a large caseload and can be quite lucrative.

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