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

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

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 their
wild west
of catching bad guys -- due to the 24
hour news cycle -- the bounty hunter will
never be in danger of extinction.

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 bail.

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

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
Copyright © 2015  Barry M. Baker