Back in the 13th century when the act of posting bail was first introduced as a way to temporarily gain release from jail, there were individuals who would grasp the opportunity to run rather than face their day in court. These runners created a dilemma for both the court system and the unfortunate person who now faced the loss of their property that was put up as collateral for the bond. It was at this point that a position known as bounty hunter was created. Centuries ago the penalty for running out on a bond was death, while in the present the punishment is additional incarceration time beyond the original sentence.
A bounty hunter is employed by a bail bondsman or bail bonds agent. Hunters are also known by the name bail enforcement agent or fugitive recovery agent. The bounty hunter receives a payment equal to 10% of the bond if they apprehend the fugitive and return them to jail; many use the motto “No Body – No Bounty” and they are available to work 24/7 365 days a year.
Due to government cut backs and increased demands upon an overworked and understaffed law enforcement, the use of bounty hunters is on the rise. With payment coming from the bail bonds agent, the use of these professionals has increased the efficiency rate for the judicial system, while saving tax dollars, as there is essentially no cost during the apprehension process on the part of the tax payer.
The bounty hunter carries with him or her an authority akin to a private investigator, and is able to follow the civil law, not the criminal law, which means an apprehension of a fugitive can be made by any means, any place and at any time, as long as the state (or country) the criminal is located in recognizes bounty hunting as a legal process. Some states, and foreign countries, prohibit the issuing of private bail bonds, and do not allow bounty hunters within their jurisdiction.
There have been, and still are, several famous bounty hunters throughout history:
Wyatt Earp: U.S. Marshall, best associated with Tombstone, AZ history, ‘Doc’ Holliday: friend and “associate” of Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson: Canadian born U.S. Marshall, Pat Garrett: An American Old West lawman known for his skill to locate fugitives, Charlie Siringo: known to be an associate of the Pinkerton Agency in Chicago, who infiltrated Butch Cassidy’s gang. Charles Algomon Chapman: credited for bringing into custody the Stuart Little Gang. Texas Ranger Jack Duncan: a respected Texas lawman
Leonard Padilla & Robert Dick: two highly respected modern day bounty hunters who work diligently to bring respect to their trade and assist the judicial system.
Duane ‘Dog’ Chapman: has a television show and a huge fan base of followers. He claims to have 7,000 captures to his credit. Some fellow bounty hunters are unhappy of his portrayal of their trade.
Bail bonds and bounty hunters are both a part of the foundation and the creation of the judicial system as we know it, both from history and up to the way it operates in present day.