What Exactly is a Bounty Hunter?

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Bail bond agents in Utah and other states are familiar with bounty hunters—people who hunt down fugitives who have either not posted bail or have fled from custody. Also known as bail enforcement agents, the variety of bounty hunters out there keep people on their toes, and courts somewhat happy.

It’s important to realize that there is an inherent danger when it comes to being pursued by a bounty hunter. They often have more agency to act when it comes to apprehending you than you might think, and it’s surprisingly easy to become the target of one. Here’s a brief primer on who they are, what they can do, and how to avoid one from being set on you.

Who are bounty hunters?

First of all, bounty hunting is something that was common in many parts of the world. Back then when legal cases where still difficult to enforce and most people shot their way out of trouble, bounty hunters were essential to support staff, marshalls, and magistrates for tracking down lawless and ruthless criminals (those that you usually see in Western movies).

Bail bondsmen will routinely hire bounty hunters to chase clients who skipped on court appearances after acquiring their services. Bounty hunters can often come from a wide variety of backgrounds and disciplines, and in most states, their activities are officially sanctioned by the law.

What can bounty hunters do?

The goal of a bounty hunter is simple: to catch a fugitive or fleeing client. However, since the regulations that govern their profession can be quite broad and vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, bounty hunters are often endowed with a surprising amount of power and agency.

They can legally cross state lines, use deadly force, and break into a property in order to arrest a client. Even if there is a legal defense that the accused can use after the fact that they’ve been caught, a bounty hunter essentially has very few limits to their duties.

Why should I care?

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Of course, there is the tendency to downplay the threats of bounty hunters—after all, they aren’t local or federal officials and therefore have none of the support and power that these people usually have. However, bounty hunting is a dangerous profession, primarily because they aren’t held to the same rules that the government has. In theory, bounty hunters can track you down across states, break into wherever you’re staying, and subdue you by force.

The good news is that bail bondsmen will only ever use bounty hunters as a last resort; they prefer negotiating with the client in good faith. In other words, the best way to avoid getting sicced on by a bounty hunter is to simply cooperate with your bail bondsman and the court.

It will be easier for everyone involved and you’ll be putting yourself out of potential danger by not interacting with bounty hunters. They’re a last-resort measure designed to capture dangerous individuals. And if you’re someone who’s just in court for a parking ticket, it seems hardly worth the trouble, to begin with.