You have heard it in the movie Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back when Boba Fett, a bounty hunter, arrested Han Solo and encased him in carbonite leaving him in suspended animation.

Just exactly what is a bounty hunter? What do they do?

A bounty hunter (a.k.a. bail enforcement agent, bail agent, bail officer, fugitive recovery officer, or bail fugitive recovery specialist) is a person who arrests fugitives for compensation. In general, the “hunt” for a fugitive is made in order to recover a suspect who has failed to show up for a scheduled court date.

The defendant’s failure to appear in court allows the court to put out a bench warrant, or arrest warrant, on the defendant. At this time, the bail bondsman, the person who paid money to the court, or bail, for the defendant to get out of jail, can either forfeit that money or bring the defendant, now called a fugitive, back to court to stand trial. This is where the bounty hunter, who is hired by the bail bondsman, steps in to apprehend a fugitive. The bounty hunter is the bail bondsman’s way of making sure that clients show up for court.

Most bounty hunters carry tools of the trade similar to law enforcement personnel. Some of the tools they carry include a badge, radio, bullet proof vest, firearm, handcuffs, pepper spray, Taser gun, or stun gun.

When recovering a fugitive from justice, bail enforcement agents have an advantage over law enforcement personnel. When they come to arrest a fugitive, no warrant is required for bail agents to enter his private property. They DO need a warrant to re-arrest a fugitive.

Do you want to become the next Boba Fett or Duane Chapman?

In order to become a bail agent, you must consider the state in which you plan to practice as a professional bounty hunter. Some states hold bail agents to varying standards of licensure and training. In California and Texas, for example, bounty hunters must pass certain training courses and complete a thorough background check. In Louisiana, the state requires their agents to wear clothing identifying them as bail agents. In Kentucky, it is illegal to bounty hunt. The exception, however, is that a fugitive can be hunted down if he fled to Kentucky to avoid federal charges in another state. Most bounty hunters are not allowed to carry firearms unless they have proper permits to carry.

Most bounty hunters are employed by bail bondsmen and can operate legally in all 50 states except Kentucky. They have an obligation to the courts that the fugitives appear for trial.

Bounty Hunters in Media

If you are a big fan of Dog: The Bounty Hunter as I am, you may have heard that Duane Chapman, the show’s host, pursued a fugitive, Andrew Luster, in Mexico back in June 2003. In Mexico, Duane Chapman himself got arrest by Mexican authorities because his arrest of a fugitive is considered kidnapping under their laws.

Shortly after Chapman’s release and return to the United States, a Mexican prosecutor declared Chapman and his “hunt” team fugitives from justice. In September 2006, just days before the statute of limitations was about to expire, fugitive recovery specialists from the U.S. Marshals Service came to arrest Chapman and his team and jailed them in Honolulu, Hawaii on behalf of Mexican authorities.

As of February 2007, Hawaii State Representatives have requested President Felipe Calderon of Mexico to drop extradition charges against Chapman and his team.


By admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *