Information About Fugitive Recovery
Bounty hunting is closely related to the criminal justice system. Most information about the fugitive recovery process can be found by reviewing federal and state-specific criminal justice systems. Below is a brief explanation of the bail system.
Typically, when you are arrested, a bail amount is set allowing you to go free until your court date. In exchange for bail money, you are allowed your freedom or considered “out on bail.” However, you must meet the terms of your bail agreement, which typically includes not leaving the state and appearing for your court date. The bail money, in fact, ensures your appearance in court and is based on the seriousness of the crime. The worse the crime, the higher the bail. Extremely dangerous criminals are usually denied bail because they are considered a flight risk and, therefore, must remain in police custody.
If bail is set at an amount that you cannot afford, a bail bondsman can post a bail bond on your behalf in exchange for 10% of your original bail. For example, if bail is set for $100,000, you would pay the bail bondsman $10,000. The bail bondsman will then secure a bail bond from an insurance company. However, if you decide to skip town and do not appear in court, the bail bondsman is responsible for the total amount of bail.
As a consequence of breaking the terms of the bond agreement, the bail bondsman will hire a bounty hunter or a bail enforcement officer or a fugitive recovery agent, as they are often called, to re-arrest the criminal. In exchange for returning a criminal to jail in the county of arrest, the fugitive recovery agent receives 10% of the original bail as payment.
As a fugitive recovery agent, your main job is to safely recover and return the fugitive to the appropriate jail. Occasionally, this may require you to cross several states or counties to locate the suspect. It is important to note that not all states allow bounty hunting.
Most bounty hunters will do whatever is necessary to find and capture fleeing fugitives. In most cases, bounty hunters hide in plain sight, acting as delivery people, customers or passersby as they stake-out a suspect’s hideouts. Bounty hunting includes researching the fugitive’s activities and their most commonly visited locations, analyzing phone records and talking to the fugitive’s friends or relatives to uncover the suspect’s whereabouts. The chase can last as long as 2 months and can stretch across many states.
Although you can apprehend fugitives in other states as a bounty hunter, you cannot apprehend them in other countries. In most countries, bounty hunting is illegal and considered kidnapping. In 2006, famous bounty hunter Duane “Dog” Chapman was arrested by U.S. Marshalls on behalf of the Mexican government for the illegal capture of Max Factor heir, Andrew Luster, in Mexico.
For many bounty hunters, capturing fugitives is an art form since there are laws that must be followed. For example, you cannot injure a fugitive during capture; most jails will not accept bruised and battered suspects, and entering a home other than the fugitive’s for capture is illegal. Consequently, many bounty hunters dress-up as service men or delivery people to coerce the suspect outside or to gain entry into the fugitive’s home.