Yvonne Mason: Bounty Hunting In Georgia

Bounty Hunting in the State of Georgia

Okay everyone who has been waiting and biting their fingernails. Now is the time to get down to the nitty gritty of Bounty Hunting.

Since I am from the beautiful state of Georgia and since that is where I got my degree and started my path of finding those who don’t wish to be found, I will start there.

The term used in Georgia for Bounty Hunters is “Bail Recovery Agents”. This title suggests that the person who performs services or takes action for the purpose of apprehending the principal (the jumper) on a bail bond which had been granted in the State of Ga. or the capturing a fugitive who has escaped from bail in Ga. for gratuity, benefit or compensation.

Bail Recovery agents have to take continuing education in order to stay up to date on all the new laws regarding jumpers and warrants. Every January they have to take a class which is monitored by the Bonding Department which is responsible for that jurisdiction.

Now, on to the fun.

Once the jumper fails to make his first appearance to plea his case then the judge forfeits the bond and orders an execution hearing of not sooner than 120 days from that day. Notice of the execution hearing shall be served within 10 days from the failure to appear date. It can be served either by mail or overnight delivery to the bonding company. Once the notice is mailed the clock starts ticking. Time to start looking for the jumper before the bonding company loses all of the bond money. No bonding agency wants to lose thousands of dollars because the defendant doesn’t want to go to court.

As a hunter when I went into a county other than my own, I had to notify the local law enforcement agency that I was there and who I was looking for. I could inform that jurisdiction any way I deemed fit. If an out of state hunter came into town, they had to produce the warrant for “failure to appear” from the city, county or state court which had produced it. They also had to produce the correction documentation showing they were licensed hunters. If the out of state agent doesn’t have to be licensed in his home state he must contact a Ga. hunter and they have to go with the out of state hunter to do the pickup.

Any hunter who fails to register with local enforcement or who is otherwise unqualified – and still tries to do a pick up or succeeds in doing the pickup will be charged with a misdemeanor if he is convicted of the first charge. If unqualified hunters does it again and gets charged he is charged with a felony. He can be sentenced to prison for 1-5 years.

If the bondsman hires an unqualified hunter he also can be charged with a misdemeanor on the first offense Ga. Code 17-6-56 and 17-6-57.

Bounty hunter must be at least 25 years old, must be a U.S. citizen, must obtain a gun permit, and must notify the local police of the intended arrest. Bondsmen must register with the sheriff of the county in which the bondsman is a resident all bail recovery agents that he employs. A bounty hunter must carry identification cards issued by bondsman, which describe the bounty hunter’s physical appearance, and contains the bondsman’s signature. Bounty hunter cannot wear clothing or carry badges suggesting that he is a public employee. An out of state recovery agent must be able to prove that he is licensed in his home state, or hire a Georgia bounty hunter if there is no licensing law in his home state. Ga. Code § 17-6-56 through 17-6-58.

The second conviction will be considered a felony and the bonding agent can also be sentenced to 1-5 years as well as a fine of up to 10,000.

No hunter can carry or display any uniform, badge, shield card or other items with any printing which indicates or eludes the that agent belonging to any state of or federal government. In other words, a hunter can not in any way elude, state of pretend he is with law enforcement. He isn’t! If he does the hunter can be charged and convicted of (you guessed it a felony) and can go directly to jail for 1-5 years plus be charged 10,000 in fines.

Now for the part you all have been waiting for. As Bail Recovery Agents we have to be very careful when we go onto a property which may or may not have the jumper. We have to watch what we say, how we say it and no we can’t kick in doors. If we do cause any damage to the location well guess what- we can be charged with destruction of property. If we try to pick up the wrong person we can be charged with assault and if we draw our weapon we can be charged with assault with a deadly weapon. Personally I don’t want to become the hunted and I really don’t want fork over money in fines.

In the State of Ga. as hunters we can carry a weapon however, we have to have a CWP better known as a concealed weapons permit. We have to abide by the laws of that permit. We cannot carry it into banks, schools etc. We are run through a background check by every known law enforcement agency out there. So nothing is hidden. If a hunter has a felony record, had been admitted to a facility for suicide attempts, has been charged and convicted of spousal or child abuse, or has been other than honorable discharged from the military no permit will be issued. They can still hunt, they just can’t carry a firearm.

If we cause damage to the property or the person we are liable for all costs involved for repairs or medical. We also stand to be charged with civil suits.

So armed with my knowledge, my warrant and my partners we start looking for what is known as cold cases. These are my favorite. They are cases which are getting to the end of the clock. The bonding company is getting ready to sign the check over to the courts.

One of the first cases I worked involved a young man from Jamaica. He should have gone down as one of the stupid jumpers. He should have been given that sign.

Anyway, we got the jacket (case file) and went to work. He had been arrested on a drunk driving charge in downtown Atlanta. His sister had made her way to the bonding agency next door to the jail (how convenient) and signed his bond. When he retrieved his belongings from the desk sergeant he was told he was free to go.

Which is exactly what he did. He went and was not heard from again. That is until the night my partners picked him back up getting out of the car at his sister’s apartment. But I digress.

I got the jacket and we had less the five days to find our boy. So I went to work. I started with his sister who had signed his bond. She pretended that she had no idea where he was or if he was coming back. She played her part very well. And I played mine. I pretended that I believed her. I went to the next name on the list his employer again, they had no clue. I called friends and foe alike. It appeared he had fallen off the face of the earth. But I knew better. They love to hide in plain sight. They think they become invisible. Right!

For three days I called everyone on his list and for those three days I continued to try and find the sister’s address. She had left that information off the paperwork. Silly Girl.

Anyway, through my ability and cunning and power of persuasion I finally found an address for the sister.

I called my partners and told them I had it. I also told them that he would show up at her residence. That was part of his comfort zone. He would show. So being the ever vigilant and believing partners they were they went to the apartment complex and waited. And waited and waited and waited. I am sure they were calling me everything they could think of.

Anyway, about 11:00pm my partners saw a car which resembled the jumper’s – the tag number matched. So it was safe to assume that if was our man.

My partners waited for him to park and get out. They slowly vacated the stakeout car and walked very carefully up to our quarry.

They called out his name and he stopped and turned around to see who was calling him. One of my partners had his cuffs already out and the other one was ready to draw his weapon if needed.

Once it was established that it was indeed our boy, he was shown the failure to appear warrant, cuffed and stuffed into the back of the SUV.

On the way back to downtown Atlanta jail he was asked why he had not shown up in court. Are you ready for this answer? Come on now try to guess, don’t peek.

Okay I will tell you.

His answer was “When the man told me I could go, that I was done, I thought it was finished. I didn’t know I was supposed to go to court.” That my friends- was a direct quote.

When my partners called me and told me they had our boy and what he had said, my response was “Here’s your sign.”

The beauty of being a hunter is we know the criminal is not that bright even though they pretend to be. We know what they are thinking, what they are doing and where they will go before they do. They always go to that comfort zone. They always go back to that place they feel safe. They always contact those who are on the reference list which is in the jacket. They always slip up. It just takes a lot of patience, time and waiting.

Next Monday I will talk about Florida and if a hunter can cross over from another state to pick up a jumper from Ga.

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Friday’s Heroes: Remembering The Fallen

Correctional Officer Donna Fitzgerald, 51

Florida Department of Corrections

On June 25, 2008, Officer Fitzgerald, a 13 year DOC veteran, was ambushed and sexually assaulted by an inmate at the Tomoka Correctional Institution. The officer was killed during the brutal assault.

Police Officer Nicholas Heine, 30

Pueblo Colorado Police Department

On Saturday June 21, 2008, Officer Heine was engaged in a foot pursuit after breaking up several bar fights when he suddenly collapsed. Efforts by fellow officers to revive Heine were not successful. He died a short time later at the hospital. It’s believed he had suffered a heart attack.

The officer was a nine year veteran, and leaves behind a wife and two daughters. Officer Heine’s mother is also employed by the Pueblo PD.

Correctional Officer Jose Rivera, 22

Federal Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Department of Justice

On June 20, 2008, Officer Rivera was conducting the 4:00pm count at the U.S. Penitentiary in Atwater, California when he was stabbed to death by two inmates. The prisoners used homemade knives (shanks) to commit the horrific murder. Rivera had only worked for the BOP for approximately ten months.

Officer Rivera was also a veteran of the U.S. Navy.

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Bullets and Gun Barrels: An Easy Comparison?

Rifling is the term used to describe the twisting pattern of grooves and lands (raised areas between grooves). Lands and grooves are tooled into steel gun barrels to cause the projectiles (bullets) to spin. The spinning movement stabilizes the bullet, causing it to travel straight and true, sort of like how a football spins when thrown by a quarterback.

Gun barrels start out as solid pieces of steel.The center hole is cut using a drill. Then, the rifling pattern is tooled to the inside of the barrel.

A tool, such as the one pictured above, is forced inside a newly drilled gun barrel, cutting lands and grooves as it passes through.

When a barrel is manufactured, marks caused by contact with machinery are left in the steel. These blemishes are different on each barrel, causing individual guns to have distinguishable fingerprints. No two set of markings are the same. Also, normal use of a firearm can cause distinctive markings inside the barrel.

Bullets are made from soft metal, such as lead. As they pass through a rifled barrel, the imprint of lands, grooves, and tooling blemishes are permanently stamped into the projectile.

Investigators use each of these markings to match bullets with the gun that fired them.

Spiral pattern of lands and grooves

Bullet with impressed image of lands and grooves in its surface

Gun stuff for fun…

Caught by surprise

Better prepared

Don’t monkey with me.

No way I’m hunting with Dick Cheney.

I told you I’m sick of canned food. I want real fish, and I want it NOW!

For those of you who couldn’t make it, Forensic University hosted a day at the gun range for members of Sisters in Crime.

The new Bond.

* BREAKING NEWS *

POLICE PROCEDURE AND INVESTIGATION has been nominated for a prestigious Macavity Award! I’m truly thrilled and humbled to be included with such a star-studded group of authors. What an incredible honor. Thanks so much!

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Police Officer Hiring Process

Applying for the job of police officer is a bit different than trying to land any other job. In fact, the process a police applicant must undergo can be quite challenging. To qualify for one of these coveted positions (there’s often a several month waiting list), an applicant must be a U.S. citizen, have a high school diploma or equivalent (many departments now require all applicants to have an associates degree or higher), and be at least 21 years old on their hire date. And there’s normally a height and weight requirement.

There are several steps in the hiring process (this varies in every area), beginning with a written application. Those who do not satisfactorily complete the written application will not be considered for a position.

The next step is usually a written test consisting of :

1) Written communication skills

1) Ability to remember intricate details

3) Spelling

4) Effective report writing

5) Use of judgment and logic

Bringing a knife to a gunfight – poor judgment.

6) Grammar

“You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test.”

7) Following written directions

8. Neatness

9) Listening skills

Those applicants who pass the written portion of the exam will be asked to participate in the next step of the process, the physical fitness assessment. The PT assessment consists of a 1.5 mile run, push ups, and sit ups. Some departments also require the successful completion of agility testing.

Agility testing

Push ups

The next stage of the pre-employment screening is an oral exam/questioning period where applicants meet with a panel consisting of ranking officers from the department.

Sometimes, members of the community are asked to participate as panel members. Candidates are asked questions, such as their reasons for wanting to become a police officer. They’re also given various scenarios and are asked what they would do if they found themselves in those situations.

Candidates who’ve made it to this stage in the process are required to submit to a background examination. Sometimes even a polygraph examination is administered. The focus of this portion of the procedure is on past and current drug use and abuse, criminal activity, past employment problems, honesty, and discrepancies in other portions of the application process.

Final contenders must undergo psychological testing to determine if they’re mentally fit for a career in law enforcement.

Needless to say, anyone who makes it through this grueling process has earned the job. Little do they know, the worst is yet to come. Police academy training is no picnic!

* * *

* BREAKING NEWS *

POLICE PROCEDURE AND INVESTIGATION has been nominated for a prestigious Macavity Award! I’m truly thrilled and humbled to be included with such a star-studded group of authors. What an incredible honor. Thanks so much!

Here’ the list of this year’s Macavity Award nominees:

Best Mystery Novel:

  • Reed Farrel Coleman: Soul Patch (Bleak House)
  • John Connolly: The Unquiet (Hodder & Stoughton*/Atria)
  • David Corbett: Blood of Paradise (Ballantine Mortalis)
  • Deborah Crombie: Water Like a Stone (Morrow)
  • Laura Lippman: What the Dead Know (Morrow)

Best First Mystery:

  • Tana French: In the Woods (Hodder & Stoughton*/Viking)
  • Joe Hill: Heart-Shaped Box (William Morrow)
  • Lisa Lutz: The Spellman Files (Simon & Schuster)
  • Tim Maleeny: Stealing the Dragon (Midnight Ink)
  • Matt Beynon Rees: The Collaborator of Bethlehem (Soho)

Best Mystery Short Story:

Best Mystery Non-Fiction:

  • Barry Forshaw: Rough Guide to Crime Fiction (Penguin Rough Guides)
  • Jean Gould O’Connell: Chester Gould: A Daughter’s Biography of the Creator of Dick Tracy (McFarland & Company)
  • Jon Lellenberg, Daniel Stashower & Charles Foley, editors: Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters (HarperPress*/Penguin)
  • Lee Lofland: Police Procedure and Investigation: A Guide for Writers (Howdunit Series, Writers Digest Books)
  • Roger Sobin, editor/compiler: The Essential Mystery Lists: For Readers, Collectors, and Librarians (Poisoned Pen Press)

Sue Feder Memorial Historical Mystery:

  • Rhys Bowen: Her Royal Spyness (Penguin)
  • Ariana Franklin: Mistress of the Art of Death (Putnam)
  • Jason Goodwin: The Snake Stone (Faber & Faber*/ Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • Clare Langley-Hawthorne: Consequences of Sin (Viking*/Penguin)
  • Joyce Carol Oates: The Gravedigger’s Daughter (HarperCollins Ecco)

*UK publisher (first edition)

Congratulations to each of you!

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