With the exception of just a few states
and the District of Columbia, bounty
hunters roam pretty freely across the
United States.  While some states have
enacted various legislation regarding
licensing, training and activities of bounty
hunters, they don't generally have the
restrictions, particularly regarding search
and seizure, that apply to you.

When a suspect is stupid enough to fail
to appear for court, and his or her bond
is secured by a bail bondsman, the
bondsman will send the bounty hunter.  
Unlike you, the bounty hunter doesn't
need any arrest warrant or search and
seizure warrant from the court.  The
bounty hunter simply finds the suspect
and returns him or her to jail.

Without bail bondsmen and the bounty
hunters who serve them, the criminal
justice system would be in very serious
trouble.  Have you ever wondered why
criminals are generally very dependable
when it comes to appearing for their
court dates?  The reason is simple, and it
can be described with one word ...
certainty.  That certainty is...if you cross
the bail bondsmen, you'll be hunted
down in very short order.

You'll arrest people with arrest records
for serious crimes literally as long as your
arm.  At first you may be surprised how
quickly your suspects are out on bail.  All
you have to do is look at those arrest
records, and you'll notice the absence of
one all important previous arrest
charge...Failure to Appear (FTA).  While
you'll often hear that the danger the
suspect presents to the community is
taken under consideration when
determining bail status, the single
overriding consideration is a high
probable certainty that the suspect will
appear for trial.  That danger
consideration business applies most
frequently when the incident is high
profile...translation -- newsworthy.

An arrest record works much like a credit
record.  Let's say you arrest two
suspects, in the same and relatively
minor incident, and you charge both with
identical charges.  The first suspect has
no previous record of arrests while the
second suspect has a lengthy record
including arrests for serious offenses.  
While the first suspect will probably be
required to post bail, the second suspect
may well be released on his or her own
recognizance as long as that second
suspect has no previous FTA charge(s).

It's all about money, jail space, priorities,
and the realities involved with police
officers tracking down people while
adhering to constitutional safeguards.  
Bounty hunters are responsible for the
apprehension of 90% of those who jump
bail.  Without the bounty hunter, two
things would happen: bail bondsmen
would go out of business, and most of
the arrest warrants issued for those
failing to appear for court would join the
hundreds of thousands of unserved
arrest warrants laying dormant all across
the country.

When it comes to police officers, you'll
learn that priorities are attached to the
service of arrest warrants.  Obviously,
the service of an arrest warrant for
murder will be pursued relentlessly by
police.  When you move to the other end
of that priority scale where FTA warrants
reside, you can realize that relentless
does not apply.  From time to time, you'll
notice that police departments perform
special operations to clear their backlog
of unserved arrest warrants.  These ever
occurring backlogs are not necessarily
due to a department's inefficiency in
warrant service.  The number of arrest
warrants issued in a particular
jurisdiction, and the police officers'
constitutional restrictions have
everything to do with the proliferation of
unserved arrest warrants.

The bail bondsmen cannot afford to rely
on police departments to protect their
posted bonds from forfeiture by the
courts when their clients fail to appear for
court.  The courts have long understood
this reality which is so intertwined with all
the other realities.  While bounty hunters
come under scrutiny more frequently for
wild west ways of catching bad guys
-- due to the 24 hour news cycle -- the
bounty hunter will never be in danger of

Back to why you should avoid the bounty
hunter.  If you assist bounty hunters in
an apprehension of a bail jumper, your
mere presence effectively transforms the
bounty hunters into agents of the state.  
Since you're a sworn police officer, your
participation -- to any degree -- makes
you responsible for any constitutional
violations committed during the
apprehension.  It's a weird thing to
comprehend since the bounty hunters
cannot, themselves, commit those
Bounty hunters, who know what they're
doing, won't want you, or any police
officer, around to cramp their style.  
However, there my well come a time when
you'll respond to an incident where
bounty hunters are involved:

Let's say you receive a call for a home
invasion.  You arrive only to learn that
bounty hunters have broken into a home
looking for a suspect who has jumped

Amid the confusion, you verify that the
suspect does live at the address;
however, the suspect was not at home
when the bounty hunters entered.  The
suspect's wife is complaining about the
bounty hunters breaking down the front
door.  While you couldn't have done that
in the absence of hot pursuit or a search
and seizure warrant, the bounty hunters
have no such restrictions.  Okay...the
wife continues to complain that the
bounty hunters are searching through
her personal papers.

Remember, whenever you arrive on the
scene of anything, you are immediately in
charge.  In this instance, the bounty
hunters are looking for information to
identify additional locations where they
might look for the suspect.  They are, in
fact, conducting search and seizure.

Well, they had their chance.  Now that
you're present, and you're in charge...
everything stops.  You chase the bounty
hunters out of the home, make certain
the wife has identifying information
regarding the bounty hunters and the
bondsman who employs them, and you
prepare a miscellaneous incident report
detailing the facts of the incident.  

In this incident, everything has gone
relatively uneventful, but let's make it a
little more interesting.  You walk inside
the house with the knowledge that
bounty hunters are present.  You enter a
room where one of the bounty hunters is
searching the personal papers.  The wife
is objecting as she grabs onto a piece of
paper the bounty hunter is holding in his
hand.  The bounty hunter responds by
grabbing the wife by her arm, and he
pushes her across the room.

Once the bounty hunters had determined
the suspect was not present, they
should have left.  Anything else they do,
such as searching for the information
described, should be done with approval.  
In this instance, the wife clearly does not
approve, and she attempts to stop the
search.  The response by the bounty
hunter is clearly not a response for self
defense.  You have, in fact, witnessed an
assault, and the bounty hunter would be
subject to arrest.

It's really pretty simple.  While bounty
hunters have a lot of latitude in their
work, when they're in your presence,
they're just like everybody else.  Just
never lose track of your responsibilities,
and the fact that you possess the
authority to meet those responsibilities.
Before I talk about the need for, and
importance of, bounty hunters, I must
tell you to stay as far away from these
guys...or girls as possible.  If you're ever
approached by bounty hunters, and they
request that you accompany them to
locate a person who's jumped bail --
don't do it!  If they're just letting you
know that they'll be at a particular
location or area, that's fine.  You can
simply notify your communications of
their presence in the event a 911 call
results from their activity.
"Unlike you, the bounty hunter
doesn't need any arrest warrant or
search and seizure warrant from the
court.  The bounty hunter simply
finds the suspect and returns him or
her to jail." ~ Barry M. Baker

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