A bounty hunter, also known as a fugitive recovery agent, is a person who is hired by a bail bond company or a bail bondsman to track down and capture individuals who have failed to appear in court after posting bail. Bounty hunters are authorized to use specific methods to apprehend fugitives, but they must operate within the confines of the law.
In the United States, the authority of a bounty hunter varies by state, but generally, they have the following legal powers:
- Arrest a fugitive: A bounty hunter has the authority to arrest a fugitive who has skipped bail and failed to appear in court. However, they can only arrest the fugitive and turn them over to law enforcement.
- Enter private property: A bounty hunter can enter private property to search for a fugitive, but they cannot enter a property without permission from the owner or a valid search warrant.
- Use reasonable force: A bounty hunter can use reasonable force to apprehend a fugitive, but they cannot use excessive force or cause harm to anyone in the process.
- Carry weapons: A bounty hunter may carry weapons, but they must comply with state laws regarding the carrying of weapons and the use of force.
- Cross state lines: A bounty hunter can pursue a fugitive across state lines, but they must comply with the laws of each state they enter.
The authority of bounty hunters is limited, and they must always act within the confines of the law. If a bounty hunter violates any laws, they can be subject to civil and criminal penalties just like anyone else.