Could You Be a Bounty Hunter?

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You’ve probably seen Duane ‘Dog’ Chapman in action on TV as America’s most famous Bounty Hunter. It’s an addictive show that will keep you on the edge of your seat as watch the unsuspecting fugitive get tracked down and cornered for an arrest. The outcome’s never certain as although most fugitives come peacefully, there is always the chance it could end in a violent confrontation. No doubt it makes great TV but what if you wanted to give it try? Do you think you’ve got what it takes to be the next ‘Dog’ the Bounty Hunter? Here’s an overview of what you should know:

Life as a bounty hunter

Bounty hunters, or bond enforcement agents as they are officially known, are required to track down fugitives who have skipped court. In return for ‘bringing in’ a fugitive, the bounty hunter normally receives a reward of around 10% of the bail money. For example, a high profile fugitive held on $100,000 bail money would net you $10,000 as a reward. Sounds pretty tempting? Well for an experienced bounty hunter it can be an extremely lucrative career however it’s also a dangerous one. Like any cornered animal, a fugitive is an unpredictable creature that may do anything to escape capture.

Check the laws of your country and state

In the US, the right to be a bounty hunter is backed up by the Supreme Court case of Taylor v Taintor (1872), however regulations vary from state to state. Check the relevant laws in your state as you may have to undergo a background check, wear identifiable clothing and comply with local firearms laws. For many countries outside the US the role of a bounty hunter is illegal, tracking down fugitives abroad could get you arrested.

Improve your skills as an investigator

As a bounty hunter you will need to be resourceful in creating leads that ultimately track down a fugitive. You will learn to be a good negotiator and be able to access phone records in order to dig into the background of a person’s life. You will also interview friends and family of the fugitive while also detecting when they are lying to you.

Be able to safely apprehend a suspect

It’s important that you can detain a fugitive in a safe and effective manner. The idea is not to break bones and leave the fugitive needing hospital treatment. Martial arts training will provide you with the necessary skills to restrain a suspect who resists arrest and it’s advisable to use handcuffs as soon as possible. Many bounty hunters make their arrest during the night or pretend to be a deliveryman as the element of surprise often defuses an otherwise violent confrontation. You can legally enter a fugitives home unannounced if you can establish without doubt they live there.

Getting your first clients

Most bounty hunters are self-employed and work on a freelance basis. As such, you must market your services by contacting bail bond agencies (bondsmen) for work. In order to track down and detain a fugitive you will need a copy of the ‘bail piece’, which states the person is a fugitive, a certified copy of the bond and the power of attorney from the bondsmen.

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