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How Bounty Hunting Works

In the Wild West, outlaws were quite difficult to capture. Local sheriffs didn’t have the resources or manpower to find and subdue these dangerous criminals, so they’d often let other people capture outlaws for a reward. Of course, this motivated many to act aggressively to find the wanted outlaws.

“Wanted” posters offering large amounts of money motivated people to become what is now known as bounty hunters. These bounty hunters often stopped at nothing to find and bring in the outlaws, “dead or alive.”

Today, rogue bounty hunters are still around. However, with American business involved, today’s bounty hunters are trained and licensed professionals. Bounty hunters are typically rewarded 10% of the total bail amount, which can be very motivating if a defendant’s bail is high. Today, bounty hunting is an industry all on its own.

See: A Brief Glossary of Bail Bond Terms

Bail, Explained

When an inmate posts bail—whether in full or with a bail bond—the money is held temporarily by the court until the inmate meets all their obligations. Think of the bail money as a type of insurance to ensure inmates return to court for their appointments and hearings.

Of course, the more severe the crime, the higher the bail amount is. Depending on how severe the crime is, a judge may choose not to set bail at all. This amount is so high partly because it acts as an incentive. If an inmate wants their money back, they must appear for their court dates and meet all their legal requirements.

See: 5 Huge Reasons to Use a Bail Bondsman

Bail Bonds Are a Risky Business

Not every inmate can afford their bail, especially if it’s high. This is where bail bondsmen come in. Bail bondsmen act on behalf of the inmate and post their bond, releasing them from jail. In exchange for this, the bail bondsmen takes 10% of the total bail.

However, not every inmate returns for their court date. In fact, around 20% of cases end up with the defendant “skipping bail” or not returning to complete their requirements. When this happens, the bail bondsmen is liable to pay the full bail amount to the court.

For this reason, bail bondsmen will sometimes ask for collateral from the defendant. Most of the time, bail bondsmen will require a third person to sign on behalf of the defendant, should they decide to flee. However, even collateral isn’t enough for certain defendants. That’s when bounty hunters come in.

What Are Bounty Hunters?

For certain cases, a bondsman will hire someone to track down “skips,” or a defendant skipping their bail. Many times, police don’t have the resources or authority to properly find and bring in defendants skipping bail. Bounty hunters have special authorities when it comes to finding defendants skipping bail.

Once a bounty hunter obtains a copy of the bail piece, or the paperwork that states the defendant is a fugitive, they are fully authorized to make the arrest. In fact, bounty hunters with a bail piece do not need a warrant. They can even enter the private property of the defendant, unannounced, and make an arrest without miranda rights.

However, even bounty hunters have some rules when it comes to their job. When it comes to entering a fugitive’s home, the bounty hunter can only do so if they know for a fact it belongs to the fugitive. Secondly, they can’t enter the homes of friends and family members of the fugitive.

See: A Grim Look Into Prison Life in Harris County

Bounty Hunter Rewards

Bounty hunters usually receive between 10 to 20 percent of the total bail bond. While this may not seem like much, it all depends on the fugitive and the total amount of their bail. Bringing in a fugitive with a bond for one million will result in the bounty hunter pocketing $100,000.

However, the job isn’t easy. The hours it takes for a bounty hunter to track down a fugitive can be anywhere from 80 to 100 hours a week. This includes generally dangerous work environments and hostile one-on-one situations.

When it comes to bounty hunting, the service seems to work. According to the National Association of Bail Enforcement Agents, bounty hunters capture 90 percent of all fugitive bail jumpers.

Is Bounty Hunting Legal?

Yes, bounty hunting is legal. However, their rights vary state to state. Generally, they have more authority than the police to arrest a fugitive bail jumper. When a defendant signs the bail bond contract, they essentially waive their constitutional rights to the bondsman. Signing the bail bond contract gives the bondsman permission to arrest them. In addition, signing the contract waives extradition, which allows them to take the fugitive to any state.

ABC Bail Bonds

We are the most trusted bail bonds company in Houston, serving all of Harris County, Texas. ABC Bail Bonds has been helping the Houston community for over 25 years, releasing inmates from jail faster than any other company. To learn more about how we can help get an inmate out of jail, contact us today.

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