A Bounty Hunter is an individual who seeks out fugitives ("hunting") for a monetary reward ("bounty"), for apprehending by law, if such laws exist.
Laws regarding bounty hunters in the U.S.
In the United States legal system, the 1872 U.S. Supreme Court case (Taylor v. Taintor) established that the person into whose custody a person accused of a crime is remanded as part of the accused's bail has sweeping rights to recover that person. For this reason, most bounty hunters are employed by a bail bondsman: the bounty hunter is paid a portion of the bail the fugitive initially paid, since if the fugitive successfully eludes bail, the bondsman is responsible for the remainder of their bail, not the bounty hunter.
Thus the bounty hunter is the bail bondsman's way of ensuring his clients arrive at trial. In the United States, bounty hunters catch an estimated 30,000 bail jumpers per year. Bounty hunters are also sometimes known as Bail Enforcement Agents or Fugitive Recovery Agents, which are the preferred industry and polite terms, but in common speech, they are still called "Bounty Hunters".
In the United States of America bounty hunters have nearly limitless authority in their duties with regard to their targets. Unlike a police officer, a bounty hunter can enter the fugitive's private property without a warrant. Normally, bounty hunters do not undergo any formal training, and are generally unlicensed, only requiring sanction from a bail bondsman to operate. However, there are exceptions to this rule.
Several states have placed additional restrictions on bounty hunters. In California, bounty hunters must undergo a background check and two weeks of training, and in Texas, they are prohibited from carrying firearms. Other states require bounty hunters to wear clothing identifying them as such. In Kentucky, bounty hunting is generally not allowed because the state does not have a system of bail bondsmen, and releases bailed suspects on their own recognizance, thus there is no bondsman with the right to apprehend the fugitive. Generally, only fugitives from other states who have fled bail on Federal charges from another state where bounty hunting is legal are allowed to be hunted in Kentucky. There is always a possibility for a fugitive to make life hard for a bounty hunter by fleeing to states which restrict certain or all parts of the bounty hunter's service.
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