How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Can Bounty Hunters Arrest People?

After someone has been arrested for a crime, sometimes they are set free until the trial date. When they are allowed to go home from jail until trial, they usually are required to provide money to the courts as security that they will show up for their scheduled appearances. This is called bail.

When they cannot afford the bail, they have an option: Bail bonds agents. These agents agree to pay bail for them.

What Bounty Hunters Do

  • If someone skips bail and misses a court date, the bail bond agent loses the money paid on their client’s behalf. That is, unless they can catch the client and take them back to the court for trial.
  • To find a bail jumper or bail skipper, as the person on the run may be called, a bounty hunter may be brought in by the bail bonds agent. Police departments have many cases to handle and do not have the money or time to pursue everyone guilty of skipping bail. So bounty hunters investigate the bail skipper and figure out where he or she may be hiding.
  • When the bail skipper is located, they are then taken to court where the bail bondsman is released from the bond agreement and gets his or her money back. The bounty hunter is paid a percentage of the original bail bond amount. That averages between 10 and 20 percent.

Rules Bounty Hunters Follow

Laws are strict in regard to bounty hunting. Bounty hunters are controlled by the laws of the state where they work. Laws vary from state to state, so bounty hunters must be careful and remain aware of laws applicable to them, when searching for bail jumpers.

Below are some examples of individual state laws:

  • Ohio bounty hunters must be licensed after classroom education regarding their trade
  • Michigan bounty hunters are not required to be licensed or trained
  • Bounty hunters cannot make arrests in a state other than the one where they are licensed, unless that second state authorizes out-of-state bounty hunters to do so
  • Some states do not allow bounty hunting within their state lines, such as Kentucky and Florida
  • Louisiana bounty hunters must wear identifiable clothing which indicates they are bounty hunters when arresting a bail jumper in a home
  • Most states which license bounty hunters also require them to have insurance

Bounty Hunter Arrests

Bounty hunters are able to make arrests and have some elbow room when it comes to making those arrests. These investigators are permitted to enter a bail jumper’s residence without a search or arrest warrant. That is, if they have probable cause, meaning they believe the bail jumper is in the residence at that time. A bounty hunter is not allowed to enter anyone else’s home to look for that individual if there is not an arrest warrant or the bounty hunter does not have the homeowner’s permission.

Bounty hunters can arrest just as police do. They do not have to call police to arrive on scene. Bounty hunters can use handcuffs or otherwise detain the person they have been looking for, as part of the agreement with the bail bondsman.

There are limitations to these arrest rights, however. Regardless of which state the bounty hunter is working in, they:

  • Cannot carry firearms without state licensure or permits
  • Cannot arrest anyone except the bail skipper
  • Cannot use excessive force to catch or detain a bail jumper
  • Could face false arrest lawsuit if they detain the wrong person
  • Are held accountable for their actions through the state’s department of insurance and police when dealing with the public
  • Must remain professional and abide by state laws when taking alleged criminals to justice

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