Yvonne Mason: Going West

Go West Young Man Go West:

The Outlaws Did and the Hunters Followed

California is another one of those states that tend to keep the laws and statutes for Bounty Hunters close to their chest so to speak. As I researched this state the pickings were very lean.

However, what I did find was very interesting. For instance a license is required which goes without saying, however, I found that the person must also be at least 18 years old. Which is very strange to me, you can’t be licensed to carry in most states until you are at least 21. They have to complete a 2 hour arrest course. This law also requires that a Bail Enforcement Agent has to notify his intent to apprehend his jumper to law enforcement six hours before he picks him up.

Now, I find that very interesting. The jumper more times than not will be gone in that amount of time. The reasoning behind this part of the law is to keep the hunter from forcibly entering the premises for any purpose except to pick up the jumper.

The hunter must carry certification of completion of required courses and training programs on his person and of course he shall not wear a badge or law enforcement type of apparel. I wonder is this includes bullet proof vest. They can not carry a firearm or weapon except in compliance with state law.

The hunter has 24 hours to deliver the jumper to either the court or the bonding agent if it is an instate pickup. If it is an out of state pick up they have 48 hours to deliver him to California.

Now I did find something very interesting in this state. According to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle there are more than 2.5 million arrest warrants outstanding in the State of California. Many are for misdemeanors, but thousands are for homicide, kidnapping, sexual assault and other very serious crimes, these warrants have remained unserved. The Question is why?

It appears that the state and local law enforcement agencies just sit on them and wait until they are picked up on some other crime. And to add insult injury they are re-released ROR (Released on Own Recognizance).

Also according to this same article it would appear the bonding companies seem to have a higher re-arrest rate than the agencies. Something to think about. The writer of the article thinks the hunters should serve the arrest warrants outstanding and bring those bad boys on in. It sounds like a plan to me.

Now that being said, in 1997 there was an incident where five hunters wearing ski masks( now why would they want to do that) kicked in a front door held children at gunpoint and shot a young couple, they were looking for a jumper.

It appeared the hunters were looking for an out of state jumper who had fled from California to Arizona. The bond on the jumper was $25,000.00 needless to say the bonding company wanted that boy.

The take down went like this. They kicked in the door. A woman and her two children were in one bedroom sleeping. She was held down and tied and hit on the head with a flashlight while two more of the hunters kicked in the door to another bedroom. Bullets flew from both the couple in the room and the hunters. Two hunters were hit but not hurt, they were wearing vests, the young couple was killed.

One hunter was charged with 2nd degree murder. This entire fiasco turned out to be mistaken identity. The hunters were at the wrong house.

It is stories like this which has given us as hunters a bad name and created the strict laws in the different states and has outlawed hunters in others. And of course the news media love this type of news it sells. It also speaks ill of those of us who are truly interested in bringing them in alive and well. It just takes too much red tape the other way and the clean up is murder.

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Lee Lofland on NPR’s Talk of the Nation

Last Friday, legendary FBI criminal profiler, Clint Van Zandt, and I appeared as guests on the NPR radio show Talk Of The Nation. Our discussion was about the aggressive tactics used by police when questioning criminal suspects and witnesses.

Click the link below to listen to the show.


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Yvonne Mason: Bounty Hunting in Hawaii

Bounty Hunting in Hawaii

I know that all of you out there are wondering how Dog the Bounty Hunter is able to do his job. So, I did a bit of research on Bounty Hunting laws in Hawaii.

Apparently there are very few restrictions for the great state of Hawaii. There are lobbyists trying to get the legislature to make hunting laws more restrictive. Of course Dog is fighting that.

They can have a felony record, there appears to be no age restriction or any of the other laws on the books in the other 49 states. The way that Hawaii gets by with the hiring of felons in the bonding business is this:

There is a term called “respondeat superior” a key doctrine in the law of agency, which provides that a principal (employer) is responsible for the actions of his agent (employee) in the “course of employment” and this includes the typical independent contractor relationship which most recovery agents have with the client.

Thus, if a bounty hunter causes a liability, the bonding company for which the hunter works will be liable for the injuries as well. When it comes to light in court that the bondsman hired a felon, a jury will crucify everyone involved. It has happened on several occasions in the past.

If anything happens on Dog’s watch his wife Beth will be held liable.

There is a bill being discussed in the legislature would require that a person apply for a hunters license to be at least 21 years old, pass a state examination, have no felony or aggravated misdemeanor arrest record, have no conviction where a dangerous weapon was used and to also submit to a fingerprint and background check.

Duane (Dog) Chapman is fighting this bill. His contention is that even though he has a felony record, he has been on the right side of the law for over 20 years. He has received a pardon. He feels that his record should not prevent him from this line of work and he cites his 7,000 plus recovery record as his grounds. However, he has also stated he would be willing to help draft a bill which would give some restrictions because the current bill as it stands has to many restrictions

According to current state laws, “career criminals” are allowed to break down doors searching for their jumper. This statement was made in the bill which was introduced. But he agrees that before a hunter breaks down a door to a residence he must first have the suspect in sight.

Dog the Bounty Hunter also agreed that Hawaii needed to follow the example of the other states which requires training and identification for their hunters. But he said the law should bar a bonding agent or a hunter from carrying a firearm.

Duane Chapman uses the fact that he does not carry a firearm; he carries and uses mace which in his mind is a better weapon. He contends that if one needs to use a bullet one should call a cop.

Now in theory that is a wonderful idea. However, if a cop is on the scene and they are involved, then the hunter loses his bounty. If the jumper is placed in a squad car and carted off then hunter cannot collect his money.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but if I have to get close enough to spray mace then, I am opening myself up to a lot of potential problems.

If Duane Chapman lived in any of the other forty nine states he would not only not be allowed to carry a weapon, he could not even have one in his home. He could not become a licensed hunter.

Now the strange part of this is that a Bail Bondsman has to meet certain requirements before he can become a bonding agent. He has to be at least 18, not committed any act that is a ground for a licensure sanction, pay the applicable fees, pass a written test within two years of the license for which he has applied.

So the question begs to be asked, if the State of Hawaii has absolutely no restrictions on Hunters, what keeps just any one from trying to make a fast buck? What would keep even more convicted felons from applying at the local bondsman for a job? Or even just free lancing. The answer is nothing.

In order for me to be able to hunt I was checked out by every law enforcement agency out there. My fingerprints are on file with every agency as well.

I am required to carry a concealed weapons permit. And I have to obey the laws of the land in regard to the civil rights of my jumper and those whom I come in contact with.

I believe that some convicted felons can turn their life around and be productive. I have some reservations about felons chasing other felons.

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Yvonne Mason: Bounty Hunting in North Carolina

Bounty Hunting in the Great Southern State of North Carolina

This Monday I am discussing the great State of North Carolina’s Laws on Bounty Hunting.

Again I will begin with the statutes of the State. In North Carolina Hunters are called Bail Runners. They must be licensed NC Gen Stat 58-71-40. They must be over 18 years old with no felony convictions and a resident of the state. They must have necessary training and experience.NC Gen Stat 58-17-50. They have to take a mandatory 20 hours of education in order to procure a license. NC Gen Stat 58-71-71. They also must take a written examination NC Gen 58-71-70. They can only work for one bonding company at a time which is the same in Georgia. NC Gen Stat 58-71-65 (1996)

Now here comes the big one. Bondsmen and runners cannot enter the homes of third parties to apprehend a fugitive.

This statute was added because of the case of State v Mathis. 509 S.E. 2d 155 (N.C.1998)

The defendant William Tankersley,III signed a bond in the amount of 1,500.00 with Marie’s Bail Bonding Company. He had been charged with passing bad checks. When Mr. Tankersley failed to appear in court, a warrant was issued for his arrest. Two licensed bail bondsmen, Mathis and Williamson, were employed by Marie’s Bail Bonding Company on December 9, 1995 to find Mr. Tankersley and bring him into the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s office.

The two bondmen went to the sister-in-law of Mr. Tankersley, but he was not there. They then preceeded to his mother’s house which was listed as his place of residency. Tankersley’s mother Mrs. Susan Nelson had co-signed on the bond. Both Mrs. Nelson and her daughter Mrs. Noto had dealings with Marie’s Bail Bonding before.

The bond showed that the defendant Mr. Tankersley drove a white 1990 Mazda MX-6 and that Mrs. Nelson drove a blue 1990 Toyota Camry.

When the agents arrived at the residence they were told by Mrs. Noto that Tankersley was not at home. She alleged he had gone shopping with his mother in the white Mazda. She was asked if she had been contacted by the bonding agency and her reply was no. However, Tankersley had spoken to the bonding co. before he left the house. The house was watched for several hours and at around 6:47pm Mathis and Williamson were called and told that Mrs. Nelson had returned.

This is where it gets ugly. Mathis and Williamson returned to the residence and see the White Mazda in the driveway. Mathis went to the back door and Williamson to the front. When Mathis knocked on the back door Mrs. Nelson answered and stepped outside closing the glass storm door behind her.

Mathis identified himself showed her his license and explained he was there to pick up her son.

Mrs. Nelson stated her son was not home and refused to allow Mathis to enter the house. Mathis told her he knew her son was there because the Mazda was in the driveway. She shot back with the statement that the Mazda was no longer his car and he no longer drove it.

Mathis told Mrs. Nelson that if it would make her feel better she could call the police and that he was going into the residence. “I have a warrant and I am going to leave when I get my man.”

Mrs. Nelson blocked the door. Mathis began to open the door and she began striking him and yelling loudly. Mathis pushed the storm door against Mrs. Nelson pinning her against the exterior wall of the house. As he pushed in one direction she pushed in the other which caused the clips holding the glass in place to pop out damaging the door.

In the meantime Williamson the other runner was able to enter the house. Mrs. Nelson followed them into the house and called the cops. The cops came and ran the runners out of the house and told them as soon as an arrest was made they would call them to pick Tankersley up. No call was made. At 2:00am Mathis and Williamson went back to the house flagged down a cop and the jumper (Tankerlsey) was taken into custody.

Because of this case, Bail bondsmen and Runners can no longer enter the home of a third party. The courts concluded that a bondsman or a Runner cannot enter the home of a third party even if the defendant lives there. Even though Tankersley listed his mother’s house as his place of residency the courts stated that the bondsmen could not enter the house forcefully because the house was the primary residence of Mrs. Nelson and she refused to give permission.

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Yvonne Mason: Hunting Bail Jumpers in Tennessee

As promised, here are the bounty hunting laws in the great state of Tennessee.

If one wants to hunt jumpers in Tennessee one must apply and get a copy of their own criminal background and present it to the Department of Insurance. (T.C.A. 40-11-317)

Each year, every professional bondsman who is licensed to do business in Tennessee has to file with the clerk of the circuit court of every county they furnish bonding money- hunt etc. a report of the assets and liabilities no later than July 15th.(T.C.A. 40-11-303)

They will also get 8 hours of continuing education during each twelve month period beginning Jan 1, 1997. (T.C. A. 40-11-401)

Now comes the fun part. The authority of the Bail Agent to arrest:

The bail bondsman/hunter may arrest the defendant on a certified copy of the undertaking, at any place either in or out of the state or may by written authority endorsed on such copy, authorize another person to make the arrest. (T.C.A. 40-11-133)

No person who has been “convicted of a felony” shall serve as a bounty hunter in the State of Tennessee. If one who has been convicted poses as a hunter he can be charged and or convicted of a Class A Misdemeanor.

Now this is where it really gets fun.

Before a hunter takes into custody any person who has failed to appear in court, such bounty hunter shall comply with 40-11-401, they shall make a good faith effort to verify the person’s address and present to the office of the appropriate law enforcement officer of the political subdivision where the taking shall occur.

They must show:

A Certified copy of the underlying criminal process against the defendant; a certified copy of the bond or capias; proper credentials from a professional bondsman in Tennessee or another state verifying that the bounty hunter is an agent of a professional bondsman and a pocket cart certifying that the bounty hunter has completed the training required by this section or if the bounty hunter is from a state other than Tennessee, proof that such bounty hunter successfully completed an equivalent amount of training in the bounty hunter’s home state within the last year.

Failure to present all of the above can cause said hunter to be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor.

Now you all probably are wondering why the states all have laws concerning hunters and why some states won’t even allow hunters. Well, I am glad you asked. I have the answer for you.

United States Supreme Court: Taylor v Taintor 16 Wall, 36

August 1997 was a red letter day and not in a good way. A couple in Phoenix, Ar. was murdered by five intruders who presented themselves as bounty hunters. The national media jumped on this story and reported it as a pick up gone south. By the time it was determined that it was not hunters but instead very bad men the story was shelved.

Even though the fake hunters had three murder convictions and two trials pending, the public and officials were left with the mythical residue of abuses by hunters. The reaction was such a knee jerk reaction that many legislatures response to this brutal murder was to regulate hunters.

In 1998 14 states dropped bills on this topic. In 1999, 26 states proposed legislation. Not every bill passed. Other states carried the debate over into the next year.

While all states have some provision, not every state has laws which make a distinction between the bondsman and the hunter. Ten states added specific provisions for hunters to their codes and 13 states have legislation pending for that purpose.

I remember this case. I remember the media having a field day with this senseless murder. At the time my gut instinct told me it was probably a drug deal gone south. But no one ever heard the results of the trial, the charges, or the fact that it was not hunters who had killed those folks. It was the very ones hunters look for. How sad is that?

Some states are more rigid than others and then there are some such as Florida which says no way are hunters legal. In some states a hunter cannot carry his weapon into that state. He also have to go to the jurisdiction where he feels his jumper is and let law enforcement know he is there to do a pick up. In Tennessee law enforcement goes with the hunter to the location. I guess they want to protect the hunter and the criminal.

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