Bounty Hunters – Role of Bail Recovery Agents in Bail Bonds

What is a bounty hunter and what do they do?

A bounty hunter is hired by a bail bondsman to locate and arrest a person who does not show to court as agreed in their bail bond agreement. Bounty hunters are sometimes referred to as bail recovery agents. When a person doesn’t show to court, the bail bondsman is responsible for the full bail bond amount.

A bounty hunter must wait for the bail bondsman to give the order before being able to go after any individual. It feels like a western movie, and while some states have strict rules and licensing requirements to become a bounty hunter, the basics remain wild in nature. The bounty hunter usually starts by talking with family and friends to determine where the individual may be. Bounty hunters stake out at relevant locations in hope of seeing the criminal or fugitive. Bounty hunters are allowed to enter the house of the fugitive to make the arrest but are not allowed to enter any other homes without a warrant. A bounty hunter may spend anywhere from a few hours to weeks or months trying to locate the fugitive. A bounty hunter’s salary or rate for hire is usually 10% of the bail bond, but can be much higher if the person is known to be difficult to locate. Upon arrest, the bounty hunter returns the fugitive to the bail bondsman and/or court or jail.


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Is a bail bondsman the same as a bounty hunter?

No, a bail bondsman hires the bounty hunter to locate and arrest the criminal/fugitive. It’s possible that a bail bonds business has their own bounty hunter on staff, but typically these two jobs function separately, but in close partnership. The bail bondsman’s goal is to never have to use a bounty hunter. The goal for bail bonds companies is to charge their 10% fee and see the individual show up in court. When a person doesn’t show to court, it creates a risk for the bondsman where they need to pay out the full bail bond. The bounty hunter charges the bail bondsman 10% to locate the fugitive. 9 out of 10 fugitives are located and arrested.

When does a bounty hunter come after me?

Normally, a bounty hunter is not activated as long as you show up to court on your court date. It’s business as usual between you and the bail bondsman if you make your court dates – the bondsman makes 10% and you are free until your trial. If you do not show to court, and don’t have a valid reason and pre-arranged plan with the bondsman and court, you risk being chased down by a bounty hunter. No bail bondsman is going to accept their full loss on the bail bond, and since they only need to pay 10% to the bounty hunter, there is very little reason for them to allow you to roam free as a fugitive. Show up to court and avoid the risk and further legal complication.

Please note that there are other reasons a “bounty hunter” may be activated BEFORE you miss court. The most common reason is that the co-signer on the bail application no longer feels safe about the defendant showing up in court. That person can pay a recovery fee to the bondsman to have the defendant re-arrested early, therefore terminating their obligation to the bondsman once the defendant is captured. It doesn’t mean that the defendant is going to be surrendered. It means that the defendant will most likely be placed somewhere in the custody of the bail bondsman where he can have the opportunity to get a different co-signer. If a new co-signer can’t be found, surrender will occur.


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A bounty hunter is hired by a bail bondsman to locate and arrest a person who does not show to court as agreed in their bail bond agreement. Bounty hunters are sometimes referred to as bail recovery agents.


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