Being arrested introduces you to the roles of many people you may not have interacted with before. Some people you may encounter include the officers, magistrates, and bail bonds agent. Unfortunately, if you fail to appear for your scheduled court appearance, there is another person you may encounter. This person is a fugitive recovery agent. Understanding their role, success rate, and tactics may make you think again about not showing up for court.
What Is a Fugitive Recovery Agent?
Fugitive recovery agents are also known as bounty hunters. They track down, arrest, and deliver you to ensure your bail bonds company is not required to forfeit your bond to the court.
Many fugitive recovery agents have military or law enforcement backgrounds. They usually are trained and certified in hand-to-hand combat, firearms, taser suppressants, and other tools required to get their job done.
How Does a Fugitive Recovery Agent Operate?
The bail bondsman hires a fugitive recovery agent to track you down when you abscond. The court views the bail bonds agencies and fugitive agents as proxies for the state, giving them police powers when arresting you.
Agents derive their powers from Taylor vs. Taintor, an 1872 Supreme Court case. This case established the precedent of the defendant voluntarily placing themselves in the custody of the bail bonds agency when they signed their bail contract. Once the bail bonds agency hires the recovery agent, the agent becomes an extension of this custody contract.
Fugitive recovery agents have varying levels of authority in executing their duties based on individual state laws but can often use any means necessary. For example:
- Agents are also not required to read a person their Miranda rights when arresting them.
- Agents do not have to announce themselves when entering a premise.
- Agents can submit illegally obtained evidence to the court.
- Agents can transport across state lines without having to go through extradition processes.
- Agents can shoot to kill if they are returning fire.
Agents also have the ability to enter your premises to apprehend you without having to have a warrant. The warrantless entry includes private residences and hotel rooms.
A few states have made bounty hunting illegal or heavily restricted, but most of these states have also outlawed or heavily restricted the bail bonds industry. Some of these states include:
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- District of Columbia
For example, in North Carolina, bounty hunting is not legal. Licensure by the North Carolina Department of Insurance as a bail bonds agent is required to engage in fugitive recovery.
How Are Fugitive Recovery Agents Paid?
Most bail bonds agencies do not keep fugitive recovery agents on their payrolls. The agency contracts with the agent if and when their services are needed. The recovery fee is usually 10% of the bond the bail bonds agency has committed to. Recovery agents are most commonly paid once the court releases the bail bonds agent's deposit.
The agents often take cases on a contingency basis, meaning they do not get paid until they are looking for are returned to custody. To be paid, they often must recover the defendant within one year of their missed court date.
How Successful Is a Fugitive Recovery Agent?
Fugitive recovery agents are highly successful. Approximately 90% of fugitives who jump bail are eventually captured. This capture rate equates to over 30,000 people each year.
Were you thinking about not showing up for your court date and leaving the bail bonds agency on the limb for your bail? You may want to reconsider your actions. You don't want a fugitive recovery agent to come for you.