Bounty Hunter - Laws in The U.S.

Laws in The U.S.

In the United States legal system, the 1873 U.S. Supreme Court case Taylor v. Taintor, 16 Wall (83 U.S. 366, 21 L.Ed. 287), is cited as having established that the person into whose custody an accused is remanded as part of the accuser's bail has sweeping rights to that person (although this may have been accurate at the time the decision was reached, the portion cited was obiter dictum and has no binding precedential value). Most bounty hunters are employed by bail bondsmen: the bounty hunter is paid about 10% of the bail the fugitive initially paid. If the fugitive eludes bail, the bondsman, not the bounty hunter, is responsible for the remainder of the fugitive's bail. This is a way of ensuring his clients arrive at trial. In the United States, bounty hunters claim to catch 31,500 bail jumpers per year, about 90% of people who jump bail.

Bounty hunters are sometimes called "skiptracers", but this usage can be misleading. While bounty hunters are often skiptracers as well, skiptracing generally refers to the process of searching for an individual through less direct methods than active pursuit and apprehension, such as spies or debt collectors. It is a civil matter and does not always imply criminal conduct on the part of the individual being traced.

In the United States of America, bounty hunters have varying levels of authority in their duties with regard to their targets depending on which states they operate in. As opined in Taylor v. Taintor, and barring restrictions applicable state by state, a bounty hunter can enter the fugitive's private property without a warrant in order to execute a re-arrest. They cannot, however, enter the property of anyone other than the fugitive without a warrant or the owner's permission.

In some states, bounty hunters do not undergo any formal training, and are generally unlicensed, only requiring sanction from a bail bondsman to operate. In other states, however, they are held to varying standards of training and license. State legal requirements are often imposed on out-of-state bounty hunters, meaning a suspect could temporarily escape rearrest by entering a state in which the bail agent has limited or no jurisdiction.

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    There is something servile in the habit of seeking after a law which we may obey. We may study the laws of matter at and for our convenience, but a successful life knows no law.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)