Bail Bonds Blog and Resources

Can a Bounty Hunter Cross State Lines to Pursue a Fugitive?

Bounty Hunters Scott Gribble and Steve Krause After Catching Two Fugitives

Bounty hunters are one of the least understood and at the same time, most misunderstood components of the criminal justice system. They’re often thought of as independent wheeler dealers who hang around at the post office reading wanted posters and then enter bars with guns blazing in search of outlaws. But the fact is that in almost every instance the bounty hunter is hired by the bail bonding agent to help track down a defendant who has skipped bail and fled. Many fugitives and would-be fugitives are aware they may wind up with a bounty hunter on their tail. But a large percentage of these ne’er do wells believe they can evade capture if they flee to another state. Is that the case?

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Bounty Hunter or Skip Tracer: What’s the Difference?

Skip Tracing - Increasingly Popular for Fugitive Recovery

When a person is granted bail it comes with one massive condition attached: you must appear at the specified date to face the charges against you. Everyone ever released on bail throughout history has agreed to this condition. Unfortunately some people agree to that condition but then head for the hills as soon as they’re released. When this happens their bail is revoked and they are considered fugitives. The bondsman (who will be in for a prolonged fight to try and recoup his losses from the fugitive’s relatives) hires a bounty hunter to locate and return the fugitive to jail, where he will sit until it’s time for his court appearance. At least, that’s how it used to work.

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Infographic of the Bail Bond Process

We've created this Infographic to help explain the bail bonds process.

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What is a Non-Bailable Offense?

Everyone is entitled to bail. Aren’t they? That’s the popular understanding and the 8th Amendment to the Constitution, which states clearly that “excessive bail shall not be required”, seems to drive home that point. After all, why mention bail at all if it’s not a fundamental right? While that seems like a logical conclusion a closer inspection of the 8th Amendment reveals the founders left plenty of room for interpretation in their wording. After all, it doesn’t say anywhere that “all suspects shall be offered bail”. Only that any bail that is offered can’t be excessive. As a result, people are often shocked to learn they have been deemed ineligible for bail and that they’ll have to remain in custody until trial.

Non-bailable offences

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Is Our Bail System Actually Broken?

The system of bail we use in the United States is a direct descendent of the medieval system of bail that arose from English Common Law. Bail is such an important aspect of our criminal justice system that the 8th Amendment to the constitution states clearly that excessive bail shall not be imposed. Over the past 50+ years two important pieces of legislation have attempted to reform the bail system. The 1966 Bail Reform Act created a statutory right to bail, while the Bail Reform Act of 1984 gave the government the right to deny bail in certain circumstances. But even these well-meaning attempts to clarify what bail is and what it means today have failed to quiet the discord around the subject. Below we’ll take a look at the essence of that discord and whether bail opponents have a point.

Broken Bail Bond System

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Common Problems That Arise During the Bail Process

Bail and bail bonding have been invaluable parts of our criminal justice system since the country’s founding. They’re the way the state honors the presumption of innocence while at the same time providing an incentive for the accused to appear in court to face the charges against them. Those who are eligible for bail (not everyone is) either pay the amount in full themselves or contact a loved one who, in turn, contacts a bail agent who arranges for a bond. For the most part the system works reasonably well, as it has for centuries. But in some cases difficulties arise that muddle the situation and may imperil the ability of the accused to obtain or maintain pre-trial release.

Problems with Bail Bonds

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