Can a bail agent legally make an arrest?


When a bail bondsman is contracted by a defendant, he is assuring the court that the defendant will abide by the bail rules and appear for his trial. If the defendant does not follow the rules and does not appear for trial, the bail agent could be responsible for the full amount of bail. Of course, this is something the bondsman would prefer to avoid.

The Defendant Becomes a Fugitive

By definition, a fugitive is a person fleeing or hiding to avoid persecution. A fugitive is breaking the contract with the bail bondsman and the law.  As such, the bail bondsman has rights. In fact, a bondsman may have more levity in detaining a fugitive than law enforcement.

A bondsman has the right to make sure the fugitive appears in court. It no doubt says so in his contract. Because he is not a government employee, he does not need a warrant to enter the fugitive’s home, or any most any public location where the fugitive is in hiding. The bondsman does not have the right to enter someone else’s private home. But, if that individual is knowingly hiding a fugitive, he or she may soon be facing their own legal problems.

Documentation and Hiring of a Recovery Agent

The bail bondsman is required to have all paperwork authorizing him to find and detain his client, now fugitive. When the defendant originally signs the contract with the bail agent, he is agreeing to allow the bondsman, or a representative, to re-arrest him should it become necessary. The bondsman must be sure the fugitive is in the location he is about to enter, and that anyone else will not be endangered by the process.

Often a bondsman will hire an outside source known as a fugitive recovery agent, or bounty hunter, to locate the fugitive and re-arrest him. This especially becomes necessary if the search extends into another state. And while other countries may not allow bounty hunting, private recovery agents may take the risk of crossing into Canada, Mexico, or even beyond to catch a fugitive and return him to court in the US.

Laws vary from State to State

Rather than demand payment, the court may allow a designated amount of time for the bondsman to locate his defendant and return him to court. The bondsman has the authority to re-arrest his client for skipping bond.  But not every state allows bounty hunting; there are a few that don’t. However, the risk may be taken to make an arrest anyway, just as when crossing international borders.

If you would like to learn more about the rights of a bail bondsman, or if you are need of one yourself, contact the Bail Agent Network. We have spent 20 years in the business, we know the laws, and we can refer a local agent to you.