What Bounty Hunters Look Like Today
Every year close to 2 million alleged criminals are released pretrial. That’s 3 in 5 felony defendants in the 75 largest counties in the nation.
—Would you trust them?
1 year later…
25% of those who failed to appear in court.
How do you get them back?
Juggle many duties
For an unchanging salary
Paid when they nab fugitives.
Often rewarded for the capture of high profile criminals.
Bounty hunters find 97% of all fugitives they pursue.
Much more than law enforcement.
“You drive around bad neighborhoods, drinking cold coffee, talking to stupid people…it’s boring as hell.”— Bob Burton, famous bounty hunter
Bob Burton, founder of the National Institute of Bail Enforcement, has trained thousands of “bounty hunters”
How It All Works…
Arrested parties can be released on bail
Sample Bail: $100,000
Bail Bondsman offers to pay bond for a non-refundable fee
(whether arrested party is found guilty or not they must pay)
Sample fee: $10,000 (typically 10% of bail amount)
One bail bondsman noted 5% of clients go fugitive
It can take 10+ good bonds to make up for one fugitive
So they hire bounty hunters.
1.Stake out fugitives
2.Interview friends, family, and bystanders
3.Break into their houses
4.And track down the wanted.
Side note: Bond clients sign paperwork allowing bondsmen and bounty hunters to search their house without a warrant.
Bounty hunters have legal power to arrest those who they are searching for.
If they catch fugitives they typically receive 10% of the bond.
–It’s a massive industry, with many regulations:
Rules for Bounty Hunters
(Or “recovery agents” as they’re sometimes called)
22 states require licensing or regulate bounty hunters:
Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia
15 states require bounty hunters to be associated with a bail agent:
Arizona, California, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia
10 states Require Bounty Hunters to Where Specific Attire:
California, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Missouri, New York, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia
And 9 states regulate when they can enter fugitive homes
California, Georgia, Missouri, New Jersey,Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia
Not quite like the crazy old days
Famous Bounty Hunters:
1700’s: John of the Priests
An ex-horse thief chose to become a “Catholic Priest Hunter” instead of being hanged.
Favorite method: feign deathbed confessions, use concealed weapons
Death: killed by the last priest left in his parish.
1863:Thomas Tate Tobin
This famed adventurer, tracker, trapper, mountain man, and army scout tracked down a trio relatives known to have killed 30 “Anglos” in early Colorado.
Favorite method: Go in alone. Return with heads in a sack. When asked how his trip was, reply “so-so.”
Death: Contributing factors included being hit in the head with a sledge hammer and shot by the son of Kit Carson.
1950: Ralph “Papa” Thorson
This famous bounty hunter is said to have apprehended 12,000 fugitives, the 1980 film The Hunter is based on his life.
Favorite method: Use his non-lethal bean-bag filled buckshot. Consult astrological charts.
Death: Car bomb.
1969: Domino Harvey
This female bounty hunter was from a well-off family and chose to track criminals (particularly drug dealers and thieves) for the thrill.
Favorite method: Pretend to be a lost tourist, get preyed upon and arrest criminals.
Death: Drug Overdose.
Today there’s a new class of bounty hunters
Profile: Michelle Gomez
Weight: 100 lbs
Occupation Skip Tracer, sole proprietor at Unlimited Recoveries
Definition of Skip Tracer:
Combination of bill collector, bounty hunter, and private investigator
In short, Michelle finds things that get lost on purpose.
Instead of brute strength Michelle is a master of digital trails.
21st century fugitives:
Plant false info on social media
Create digital doppelgangers
Don’t use valid id’s or bank accounts
Incorporate and hide behind business credit cards, purchases and transactions.
When the long arm of the law needs a little help, oftentimes its the keen eyes of a bounty hunter that come to the rescue.