The Methods of the Bounty Hunter
Most people that are arrested will contact a bail bondsman to get them out of jail as soon as possible. A bondsman will put up all the money for your release in exchange for a percentage of the bond and a signed contract stating that you will go to all of your court appearances and refrain from breaking any laws during this time. If the rules are followed, you will be released from your bond after your court appearances.
If you were to break a law, leave the state, or otherwise ‘disappear’ when you are supposed to be in the courtroom, your bondsman may have to look into hiring a bounty hunter, or recovery agent, to search for you and bring you back for court. Unlike their counterparts in Star Wars, bounty hunters in Nevada aren’t trained to hunt down and eliminate their targets. They will try everything in their power to keep your interaction peaceful.
So, if television, movies, and even Star Wars exaggerate the job, then what is the job? What does a bounty hunter do to catch a runaway?
A Bounty Hunter’s Responsibilities
You wouldn’t recognize a bounty hunter on the street, unless, perhaps, they are looking for you. They are everyday people who happen to be trained in research and arrest tactics specifically to find and apprehend what is sometimes called a ‘bail jumper’, or someone who runs after bail is paid, but before their court appearance.
They are, in essence, private investigators with the power to arrest someone. They are given access to your criminal records, including current pictures, and they will have the contact information of family members and certain friends. Recovery agents use interviewing tactics and the power of persuasion to try and get information from your loved ones about where you may be living.
They have access to databases that will help them research license plates and conduct background checks on anyone that may be involved in a disappearance. They also have the right to:
- Review the case in detail and even investigate the crime further
- Cross state lines as long as they know the laws in each state they enter and follow that state’s laws
- Follow all laws in the search area (a strong background in police work or law usually precludes a bounty hunting career)
- Conducting surveillance on you, your work, and at the homes of friends and family
- Lawfully gathering further evidence and analyzing the data
Nevada has one of the most detailed sets of rules that hunters must follow, and they are even outlined in Nevada Revised Statutes Title 14, Chapter 178, on bail in criminal cases. Each hunter, or recovery agent, must be licensed by the state of Nevada to operate legally. They will have passed a drug test, a written exam, and a criminal background check, though they do not represent the state of Nevada in any official way.
A bounty hunter will be contacted when someone misses a court date and cannot be contacted by their bondsman.
They Must Act Within The Law
United States bounty hunters hired by bondsmen recover over 90% of the fugitives they seek, so they are efficient and resourceful at their job. Many hunters carry tasers, but they also have the right to carry a gun to protect themselves. They are allowed to wear protective gear and use batons, tear gas, and pepper spray. Taking on this job is a huge responsibility and the safety of them and their arrestee are very important.
If they don’t have the warrant to search a house, official police presence is necessary and required by law. Police must be present during any situation where a hunter must force themselves into a home. They can misrepresent themselves as delivery people, salesmen, or even Uber drivers if they feel that they can catch the fugitive safely in this way.
Once a fugitive is in custody, the recovery agent must contact local officials, report the arrest, and share the county in which the runner will be turned in. They are not to hurt you in any way unless they have to protect themselves in self-defense. If their actions go beyond the law, they will face legal consequences, as would an average citizen.
The Consequences Of Running
You will know if you didn’t show up for court. If you don’t show up for court, your bondsman will try and contact you. If you ignore the bondsman and try and hide from them, they have every right to hire a bounty hunter to find you. This means that the recovery agent will contact your family and friends. They may contact your place of work and even speak to your children.
They can follow anyone at any time to search for you, and they can enter anyone’s home as long as they have police present. It isn’t just dangerous for you, but can be intrusive and dangerous for those you love.
Skipping a court date forces the state to put a warrant out for your arrest, which will affect your sentencing and any plea that you may be offered. If you believe that you may miss a court date, converse with your bondsman and your lawyer beforehand. Rescheduling may be an option if your absence is justified. If you do forget about a court date, call your bondsman and lawyer. Maintain a dialogue with them about your circumstances immediately and most trouble can be avoided.