How Bounty Hunting Works

bail-bondsThe subject of bounty hunting plays out in movies and television shows across many genres. However, true-life bounty hunting is a career performed by professionals working to not only ensure a person pays for their crime, but also that bail bond agents are paid for their work.

The practice of setting bail dates back to the 13th century, but today’s practice of bounty hunting for those who skip bail did not take hold until around 1873 with the court case of Taylor v. Taintor. The US Supreme Court Decision, in this case, gave broad authority and abilities to bounty hunters in regards to catching bail jumpers and bringing them back for trial.

When a person is charged with a crime, they are typically given a bail amount along with the charge. In exchange for the bail money, those charged with a crime are released under the promise that they will return for their court date. Bail is typically set based on the severity of the crime with higher bail amounts for more serious crimes or re-offenders. In serious crimes or where the judge feels a person is too high of a flight risk, a bail offer may not be given at all.

Bail Bonds

When a person does not have the money to pay their bail, the individual or a person acting for the individual can get a loan or a bond from a bail bond agent. This agent puts up the bail in return for a percentage of the bond as a fee. The agent gives the money to the court, with the court returning the money if the individual shows up for their hearing. Upon signing a bond contract, the individual states they will show up for their court date or they will be liable for the entire bond, as well as may have a bounty hunter sent out to place them in custody for bail skipping.

History of Bail

Bounty Hunting

When a person signs a bail bond contract they waive a portion of their constitutional rights if they choose to not show for their court date. This allows a bail bonds agent and their bounty hunter to pursue a bail skipper using any reasonable force to place them in custody. With the addition of the terms of the signed bond contract, bounty hunters often have less red tape than even police officers depending on the state. To make an arrest, all a bounty hunter requires is the bail piece showing the person is a fugitive along with a certified copy of the bond. Once the fugitive is returned, the bail bond agent pays the bounty hunter, often with a percentage of the value of the bail bond once returned from the court.

Bounty hunters are skilled professionals who not only excel at locating and apprehending bail skippers but also typically have a firm grasp of the law. It’s with the help of these professionals that overworked and understaffed law enforcement agencies are able to keep the public safe while ensuring that criminals are brought to justice.

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Bail Bond Rates

In general, the standard industry rate for bail bonds is 10% of the face amount of bail. For example, if the face amount of bail is $10,000, the fee is $1,000. Read More


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