Bail recovery agents are an important part of the bail bonds system. If bail is allowed for a particular defendant, it can be thousands of dollars, which the typical criminal defendant doesn’t have. He or she can seek help paying for it through the services of a bail bondsman who, for a fee which is usually 10% of the bail amount will secure a bond to pay for the bail. The agreement made is that the defendant will appear for any and all court appearances or the full bail amount is forfeited and any collateral is turned over to pay for bail. If a defendant fails to appear in court at a scheduled court date, a bail recovery agent is brought in to locate the person who skipped out on bail.
They prefer the name “bail recovery agent” or “bail enforcement agent” to “bounty hunter” because it sounds more professional and gives them more credibility with the law enforcement officers and court employees that they work with.
They’ve existed since medieval times when the bail system was first developed.
Bail recovery agents carry badges so they are able to quickly identify themselves to fugitives as well as to police officers.
The system of using bail recovery agents frees public law enforcement from the responsibility of tracking fugitives.
Although they are not police officers, bail recovery agents have the authority to apprehend and imprison fugitives at any time. The Supreme Court ruling of Taylor v. Taintor, 83 U.S. (16 Wall.)366,21 L.Ed.287 (1872) decided this and also gave them the ability to cross state lines in pursuit without legal process.
A recovery agent can enter a fugitive’s home without a warrant. A bail jumper is treated the same as an escaped convict.
Many bail bondsmen are also licensed bail recovery agents.
Recovery agents only use force as a last resort. They first try to have family members persuade the fugitive to turn himself in or they try to trick the fugitive into coming out of hiding by making him think he won a prize.
Typically, when a bail enforcement agent brings in a fugitive, he or she will receive 10-20% of the amount of the total bond.
According to the National Association of Bail Enforcement Agents, bail enforcement agents capture 90% of fugitives.
The “bounty hunter” reputation of being on the fringe of criminal society is a thing of the past. Today’s bail recovery agents are professional, tactful, and skilled and have an impressive success rate of bringing in fugitives to face their days in court.