What is a Bounty Hunter?
A bounty hunter is a person that catches fugitives, typically for a financial reward and may also be referred to as a Fugitive Recovery Agent. In the bail bonds industry a fugitive recovery agent is used to capture a fugitive that has failed to appear for a court appearance or has fled during their trial.
Where is bounty hunting practiced?
Bounty hunting as it applies to the bail bonds industry, is currently legal in only two countries in the world, in the United States and in the Philippines. The Philippines most likely adopted this tactic due to the close law enforcement interactions the United States and the Philippines have shared throughout history.
When did bounty hunting start?
The first referenced to commercial fugitive recovery in United States legislation in 1873 during the Supreme Court case of Taylor v. Taintor. The first bail bonds company was started in 1898 by the McDonough family (Toma and Peter) in San Francisco.
Do states regulate bounty hunters?
Yes, state law plays a major role in both the bail bonds and futive recovery industry. In some states bounty hunting is banned all together while others have strict regulations for operating bail enforcement agents.
Kentucky: State laws place a ban on commercial fugitive recovery.
Louisiana: State laws mandate all commercial fugitive recovery agents to wear clothing identifying them as such.
Texas: State laws require commercial fugitive recovery agents to be a private investigator or licensed peace officer (Level III armed security guard).
Why doesn’t law enforcement catch fugitives?
The simple answer is that law enforcement agents do catch fugitives. Fugitive recovery agents are used by individually licensed bondsmen to help catch their client because a bondsman cannot get paid unless their client appears for their trial. Typically law enforcement agents will leave the initial recovery efforts to the bondsman however if a defendant is on the run long enough state and sometimes federal law enforcement agents may become involved. The U.S. Marshal service is the branch of law enforcement dedicated to fugitive recovery however they are typically tasked to handle federal trials that involve high profile criminals, like those wanted by the FBI.