Becoming a Professional Bounty Hunter
Most people would never consider running from the law, but some people do. When a fugitive needs to be brought to justice it’s time to call a bounty hunter. Bounty hunters, also called bail enforcement officers, apprehend fugitives who are running from law enforcement. It’s the bounty hunter’s job to lure fugitives out from hiding and bring them to justice. It’s a dangerous and exciting career.
Bounty hunters work with bail bondsmen. When a criminal is arrested, they can be released on bail. Bail is a price set to ensure that a suspect will return to court – the more dangerous a criminal the higher the bail.
Criminals often turn to bondsmen to get bail money. When a criminal skips their court date, they become a fugitive from the law.
A bail bondsmen gives a bounty hunter a power of attorney to recover the fugitive in exchange for a percentage of the bail. Bounty hunting has been a legal profession since 1872. Bounty hunters are unique because they are able to enter a fugitive’s home without warrants and use any means necessary to bring them to jail, crossing state lines if necessary, as long as they have the bail paperwork. Every state and country has different laws that must be followed.
Fugitives are tricky to find. A bounty hunter must be determined and confident in order to track and arrest armed and dangerous fugitives who are willing to do anything to resist arrest. When a bounty hunter takes a contract to find a fugitive, they are given the fugitive’s personal information and the ability to trace phone records and license plates. The bounty hunter can visit the fugitive’s hangouts, friends, family, associates, and neighborhood to get information.
Fugitives aren’t likely to answer the front door. Instead bounty hunters use the element of surprise – sending texts from a friend’s phone, showing up at the house at 5am, or pretending to be the heating guy. It takes long hours of investigation and tedious stakeouts to take down a fugitive. Many bounty hunters have military or law enforcement backgrounds. Others don’t. All bounty hunters need tracking, surveillance, self-defense, firearms, security, and negotiations training. Proficiency with stun guns and weapons is important too. Bounty hunters must be prepared for anything – knife wielding drug addicts, domestic violence offenders resisting arrest, or gun toting robbers.
Most bounty hunters start by working with experienced bounty hunters at a bail recovery business. This is a good way to learn the trade, master the techniques, understand the laws, and make necessary contacts. Work is almost always performed in teams because it is risky entering fugitive’s homes, setting traps, and making arrests. Bail bondsmen are more likely to call a bounty hunter who is experienced and consistently brings in a fugitive safely.
The average bounty hunter will get 100 contracts a year, but most bounty hunters will turn down a contract if there are multiple bounty hunters looking for the same fugitive.
Every contract is different, but a bounty hunter can plan to make 10% to 20% of the bail for each fugitive they arrest. On average they make $50,000 to $80,000 per year. It can be long work and irregular hours in sketchy places, but the adrenaline keeps them going. Check out Dog the Bounty Hunter on A&E to see if bounty hunting is the life for you. It’s an adventurous, man-hunting job bringing fugitives to justice.
Quick Facts About Bounty Hunting Work
Job Title: Bounty Hunter, Bail Enforcement Agent, Fugitive Recovery Agent
Office: Wherever a fugitive might be
Description: Apprehend fugitives
Certifications/Education: Depends on state laws and regulations
Necessary Skills: Communication skills, security skills, apprehension techniques
Potential Employers: Bail Recovery Businesses, Bail Bondsmen, Independent Contractors Pay: 10% – 20% of bond or $50,000 to $80,000 per year
Dog The Bounty Hunter
United States Professional Bail Bond Investigators Association
American Bail Coalition
American Institute of Bail Bonding and Bail Enforcement
Bounty Hunter Documentary