What Literature and Legal Resources Tells Us About Fugitive Arrests

defense-attorneyWhen a person skips out on their bail, technically, they become fugitives, or individuals that flee one jurisdiction in order to evade arrest and detention. Bail fugitives are those individuals that would have been in jail had they not been released out on bail, and who now also flee the court’s jurisdiction in order to evade re-arrest.

When people skip bail, they usually remove themselves from the immediate jurisdiction of the courts hearing their case. So they head out of town, leave the state, of sometimes even leave the country. Law enforcement agents are usually alerted as to the identity of skips, and should they discover the location of the bail fugitives, have the authority to place that person under arrest before transporting them back to the jurisdiction where their case is being tried.

Bounty hunters, or fugitive recovery agents, are those tasked by bail bondsmen to bring back fugitives that have skipped out on bail for which they have acted as surety. And even though they may be private citizens, they can apprehend bail fugitives and bring them back to the court’s jurisdiction.

The extent to which a bounty hunter has authority to act depends on which state they’re in. There are some states which restrict or regulate the practice of bounty hunting, but unless they are expressly considered illegal in a certain jurisdiction, where the law is silent as to the practice of bounty hunting, a bounty hunter can pretty much act within the law when they arrest a fugitive.

There are certain instances when even private citizens can conduct a legal and valid arrest. Perhaps the main difference is that for bounty hunters, they act not to prevent a crime from transpiring or being consummated (as for private citizen arrests), but because it is what they have been hired to do, and what they will be paid for.

Police officers are expected to adhere to certain procedures before conducting an arrest, including the reading of Miranda rights to the arrestee. Bounty hunters are not expected to adhere to these requirements. They are, however, when applicable, expected to adhere to certain state laws that regulate the practice of bounty hunting. For instance, some states require them to carry on their persons at all times paperwork bearing out their qualifications to be a bail hunter and the particulars of the bail bondsman that hired them to apprehend a specific fugitive. Still, in other states, bounty hunters are not allowed to make arrests at all, but are expected to inform local police authorities who will then conduct the arrest of the fugitive themselves.

In general, for a bounty hunter to do their job, they can enter the residence of a fugitive as long as they are aware that the residence belongs to the fugitive and that the fugitive is currently living in that house. They can use a reasonable amount of force to make the arrest, which should not be excessive. If they use excessive force, or if they trespass on the property of third persons, bounty hunters can be held liable themselves.