Fugitive recovery agents, bail enforcement agents, or bail recovery agents were earlier known as bounty hunters. Back in the days of the “Wild West”, bounty hunters could bring in the fugitives dead or alive. Today, you need to bring in the fugitive alive. Bounty hunters lead what seem like exciting lives. They get to catch the “bad guys”, and they get rewarded for doing so. And because bounty hunters get paid only when they bring in the fugitive, they have to be good. In fact, bounty hunters are better than the police in hauling in defendants who chose to give court hearing dates a miss.

Bounty hunting is not legal in Canada. It is, though, in many states of the U.S. The difference in the legal status of bail recovery agents across the two nations arises from how the respective laws define sureties. Illinois, Kentucky, Oregon, and Wisconsin do not allow bounty hunting. Fugitive recovery agents usually make 10% of the bail amount; they show up with the fugitive and they get the money. The business operates strictly on the “no body, no bounty rule”.

Fugitive recovery agents are well-versed in the law and also human psychology. For example, instead of going after a fugitive, they may go after the co-signor and if the co-signor is a family member who may lose a house because a fugitive has jumped bail, the chances are high that the missing person will turn himself in.

Bounty hunters are hired by bail bondsmen to bring in fugitives. Bondsmen are usually given 60 days to achieve this, if they don’t then they lose the money they’ve put up for the bond. 

Many bounty hunters are ex-police officers and therefore know the aspects of law related to their work. Experienced army men and private detectives also make good bail enforcement agents.

In American states, where bounty hunting is legal, the practitioners must be licensed and if they don’t have the desirable professional background then they must complete an internship with an experienced fugitive recovery agent. Requirements for licensure vary with the state. There are procedural protocols that a bounty hunter must be aware of. These relate to the use of force, use of weapons and firearms, entry and seizure, transportation, legalities involved, and the bail bond process.

The job involves action and adventure, and also a fair bit of the grey cells. You need to be able to think, and be able to think on your feet, like when you’re giving hot pursuit. You must be able to narrow down leads, out think the fugitive, and be aware of the resources available to you. Patience is a virtue. You will keep odd hours and you need good people skills.

There are jobs in this industry. In the U.S, it is slated to grow at 11% over the next two years.