Bounty Laws & Bounty Hunters

In the United States, bounty laws are designed to regulate bounty hunting.

This is the activity of finding fugitives who have left a town or city where they have posted bail for a crime they’re accused of committing. The person who is responsible for money paid to a court in order to cover bail is usually a bail bondsman. These are the people who will use the services of a bounty hunter. A bounty hunter will find a fugitive, arrest them and return them to the state where their bail was posted.

Bounty Laws

There are only two countries in the world that permit bounty hunting. One is the Philippines, and the other is the United States. Other countries utilize their law enforcement to capture fugitives running from the law. In the United States, there was a Supreme Court ruling in 1873. It established a bounty hunter will have almost unlimited rights when it comes to recapturing someone who signs a bail bond contract and does not show up for their court date. The person who signed the bail bond contract gives up their constitutional rights and agrees to be arrested by a bail bond agent or a third party representing a bail bond agent. Once the fugitive is captured, they will be able to be moved across state lines if necessary. The only item a bounty hunter needs to arrest a fugitive is the required paperwork providing information that an individual is a fugitive. Bounty hunters know that local laws take precedent over any mandates from out of state. If a bounty hunter has certain authority in the fugitive’s home state, but the fugitive is found in another state and the laws are different, the bounty hunter must obey the laws where the fugitive is located.

Bounty Hunter

Many states require bounty hunters to have formal training as well as complete a licensing process. Some states do not have laws designed to regulate bounty hunting.
A bounty hunter is normally paid approximately ten percent of the amount of the posted bail. This can vary depending on what is involved with capturing a fugitive. Should the fugitive not be captured, the bail bondsman or the person who paid the bail will lose the entire bail amount paid to the court. Using a bounty hunter is an effective way to make certain fugitives are in court for their scheduled trial dates. It is estimated that over 30,000 bail jumpers are captured by bounty hunters annually in the United States. This represents 90 percent of fugitives who jump their bail.


Bounty hunters in the United States are able to operate with varying levels of authority. Much of this depends on the laws of the state where they work. In most cases, a bounty hunter can go into a fugitive’s private property without a warrant and take the fugitive into custody. They are not permitted in many states to enter the property of anyone other than the fugitive’s without a warrant or permission of the property owner.
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