Bounty Hunting

The content below is from Episode 91 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast.


Arcane (TV Series 2021– ) - IMDb
  • I recommend you check out ARCANE: League of Legends on Netflix.
    • It is based on the video game League of Legends, but I knew NOTHING about that game before watching the series and I didn’t feel as if I missed out on anything.
    • The animation style is so sleak and a delight to watch. The character development is very impressive for a video game adapted in to a series as well. The character Jinx is so complex and probably most people’s favorite.
    • Imagine Dragons actually did the soundtrack for the series and the opening song Enemy. It is a banger. Check it out.


    • The modern understanding of Bounty hunting originated in England hundreds of years ago. Back in the 13th century, bail was a person, not an amount of money. An individual was designated custodian of the accused, and if the accused did not return to face his penalty, the custodian could be hanged in his place.
      • That is totally unfair by today’s standards. And YES, it is “hanged” and not hung when talking about a person.
      • In 1679, the British Parliament passed the Habeas Corpus Act, which for the first time guaranteed that an accused person could be released from prison on monetary bail.
    • The bounty hunter was given broad authority starting in 1873 with the U.S. Supreme Court case, Taylor v. Taintor.
      • The case gave bounty hunters the authority to act as agents of bail bondsmen. Bounty hunters on the trail of a bail jumper could “pursue him into another state” and, if necessary, “break and enter his house for that purpose.” Today, states have their own restrictions when it comes to bounty hunting, but most states give bounty hunters the freedom to pursue and arrest bail jumpers within and across their borders.
    • Historically, Bounty Hunters were often stereotyped as a group of renegades. 
      • When I think of a Bounty hunter I either picture something like Boba Fette from Star Wars or Lobo from the DC comics, a cosmic bounty hunter tracking down fugitives across the stars. OR I picture gritty rough men on horseback with 6-shooters holstered to their side while they traverse the Wild American West in search of their bounty.
      • But real-life bounty hunters weren’t as glamorous. An individual or group of individuals would track wanted fugitives and collect a cash reward in return for this particular runner, dead or alive.  In past year’s law enforcement did not have the resources to skip trace wanted fugitives across the thousands of miles that make up the United States. As a result, officials of the law put a bounty on the criminal that they wanted detained.  With increasingly high stakes growing with the danger of the outlaws, these unofficial law enforcement agents soon realized that Bounty Hunting could become a prosperous business.
    • Since Taylor vs. Taintor, however, new laws, such as the 1966 Bail Reform Act, have changed the terms of Bounty Hunting. 
      • Bounty Hunters are no longer allowed free reign to detain fugitives in any way they please.  Now, Bail Enforcement Agents must abide by state and local laws while seeking a deserter.  And now, with over 30,000 criminals being detained by Bounty Hunters every year, more bail bond companies than ever are looking to hire fugitive recovery agents.  Nevertheless these bond companies will not just hire any person who wants to become a Bounty Hunter.  The rapid return of criminals is necessary for bail companies to receive bond money, and this takes highly skilled Bounty Hunters.  Bounty Hunting has become a highly specialized occupation with specific training and skills.
  • WHAT – what do bounty hunters do, what is their life like?
    • Bounty Hunting primarily involves skip tracing and apprehending bail fugitives for a reward from a bail bondsman. 
      • Skip Tracing: A day in the life of a Bounty Hunter consists of whole lot of “skip tracing”, a tactic used to trace a fugitive who skipped on a bail bond and is working hard to avoid the Bounty Hunter.
      • Before a defendant has been charged with failure to appear in court, the defendant (soon to be fugitive) signed a bail bond agreement and gave a deposit–on average ten percent–and the bail bondsman then pays the difference for the release of the defendant until the court date.  If the subject fails to attend the court date the bail bonds company will then contract a Bail Enforcement Agent, also known as a Bounty Hunter or Fugitive Recovery Agent.  The agent is assigned to the case to skip trace, make an arrest, and return the defendant to the justice system.
    • I’m mainly discussing bounty hunting in the United States with the exception being it’s roots from British Parliament.
    • When it comes to US bounty hunting, it is a National matter only.
      • The one thing a bounty hunter can never do is take the hunt outside of the United States. Bounty hunters can be arrested — even shot — if they stray across international borders
    • Oregon, Kentucky, Wisconsin, and Illinois – ban the practice of bounty hunting altogether so those states are out.
      • Because of Supreme Court Case Taylor vs Taintor (1872), a bounty hunter’s right to recover a suspect is a federal law.
      • But lets say a bounty hunter’s is after a suspect that has cleverly fled to Chicago (a major city in Illinois, a state where it is illegal to conduct bounty hunting). And lets say the bounty hunter ignored that state law.
      • Because America’s laws are set up this way, that bounty hunter would be arrested and put in jail. He or she would eventually be set free because federal law allows them to recover suspects across state lines. But at the same time Chicago PD are allowed to enforce local law.
        • Federal, state, and local laws have weird blurred lines that are confusing as all hell even to those of us who live in this country. I can’t imagine how foreign people feel lol. A good example is: Is Cannibis legal in the US? the answer is NO… and yes kind of depending on the state or city your are in.
    • Other than those few places that outright ban bounty hunting, there is no jurisdiction. They can chase you from Maine to Florida and over to California.
  • WHO
    • Bounty Hunters are NOT Police Officers.
      • In general, they have greater authority to arrest than even the local police.
        • Now that’s a pretty substantial claim, but it is true. All the bounty hunter needs to make an arrest is a copy of the “bail piece” (the paperwork indicating that the person is a fugitive) and, in some states, a certified copy of the bond. He or she doesn’t need a warrant, can enter private property unannounced and doesn’t have to read a fugitive his or her Miranda Rights before making the arrest. 
        • That being said, there are rules and regulations to the job. The bail bond contract gives bounty hunters the right to enter the home of a fugitive, but only after establishing without a doubt that the person lives there or is inside a structure. They cannot enter the homes of friends or family members to look for the fugitive on a hunch.
      • Bounty hunters are private operators. They are like freelance workers trying to run their own business… that business just so happens to enforce the law, but they are NOT public servants like the police.
      • A bounty hunter has to abide by Bail Law and it is very different from the laws that govern what the Police (public servants) can do.
      • Police have to get warrants signed by judges to search your property without probable cause (example: hearing a person scream help or seeing a live fire in your house or car).
      • Bounty hunters have to make sure a fugitive is living in a house or owns a car to search it… but they don’t need a signature from a judge or a warrant.
        • This fact tends to surprise fugitives.
      • Once that bail contract is signed, by the defendent or co-signer, a bounty hunter does not need permission to enter their home AT ANY TIME.
        • REMEMBER that if you ever post bond.
      • When the defendant signs the bail bond contract, they do something very important. They waive their constitutional rights. They agree that they can be arrested by the bail bond agent. And they waive extradition, allowing bondsmen to take them to any state.
    • Let’s say you robbed a liquor store and you posted bail. You signed the bail contract. You skip your court date and are now on the run. The bounty hunter can search your crib, we’ve already established that.
      • But let’s say you run in to your sweet old grandma’s house. She doesn’t have anything to do with your crimes, she’s just a nice cookie-baking grandma… but the people looking to collect your bounty saw you enter her home OR physically see you on the premises… guess what… those big tough bounty hunters can knock down Grandma’s front door with sledge hammers and drag your ass out of her house (this applies to vehicles too). And they will do it without hesitation because the longer they wait the greater the chance some other bounty hunter will get the money.
      • These dudes see fugitives like property and the law supports that. They get your ass or they don’t get paid.
    • Another main difference between cops and bounty hunters is the training
      • Now, this varies state-to-state, but places like Ohio only require that bounty hunters have licenses… they don’t require any tactical firearm training or siege training or anything. Once you have that license you get out there and start hunting people.
        • This can lead to unneccesary injury or death by both fugitives and bounty hunters.
        • On the other side, police are required to go through all sorts of training and there are entire academies set up to make sure those trainings are completed before a person becomes a police officer
      • There are states like Texas and Virginia that teach bounty hunters how to properly arrest someone and how to act tactically in dangerous situations.
    • Then of course, Bounty hunters aren’t cops in that they aren’t going to just arrest people that see doing crimes in front of them. Their job is to arrest specific individuals that have signed bail contracts and have failed to appear in court.
      • They can do a citizen’s arrest if they chose to, but they typically don’t. The exception being if they are trying to collect a bounty and someone is getting in their way committing crimes like slashing the bounty hunters tires or committing felonies that piss off the bounty hunter, that bounty hunter knows what he can and cannot do. He or she may detain that person and call the cops to come arrest them even if they aren’t their bounty.
      • Cops also usually are out doing their job and are tasked with arresting people they’ve never seen before and have no background knowledge of.
      • Whereas bounty hunters have an entire biography of their bounty mark. They know prior arrests and living habits of the person they are looking to hunt.
        • Most bounty hunters believe the job of a police officer is more dangerous than their own because of this fact.
  • REAL BOUNTY HUNTERS THROUGH HISTORY(and I’ll admit, I took these straight from a History Channel article called 5 Famous Bounty Hunters)
The Most Badass Bounty Hunters in History (List25)
  • Rome’s Barbarian Hunter: Charietto 
    • Charietto was an Ancient German headhunter and bounty hunter who worked for the Romans. He operated on the Rhine frontier near Treverorum. According to Zosimus, Charietto saw barbarian raiders crossing the Rhine and determined to take action. Going out into the forest at night he would kill a number of the raiders, sever their heads and bring them into the town come daytime. Charietto was joined by other men, and eventually their success earned him the admiration of Julian, who was commander in the region and later became the Emperor known as Julian the Apostate. Charietto was encouraged by Julian to attack the barbarian raiders at night, while Roman regular forces would confront them by day. After a long period of such activities, the raiders surrendered.
  • John of the Priests
    • The 1709 Penal Act demanded that all Catholic priests take the Oath of Abjuration and recognise the Protestant Queen as Supreme Head of the Church of England and Ireland. Any cleric who refused was sentenced to death. John Mullowney was arrested as a horse thief in Castlebar, Ireland in the early 1700s. He was offered a choice: hang or become a Priest Hunter. He chose the latter. A “talented rogue”, John excelled at clergy hunting, being paid as much as £100 for the capture of an Archbishop or Bishop. His favourite method of ensnaring priests was to feign a deathbed confession then pull out a concealed weapon and do for the Holy Man. Mullowney was fatally stabbed in the act of killing the last remaining Catholic priest in his parish. His body was thrown into a lake by local Catholics. John’s body was eventually retrieved and buried in un-consecrated ground, nearby. There is a tree near the spot which local legend says has grown but never blossomed since.
Thomas Tate Tobin (1823-1904) | WikiTree FREE Family Tree
  • The Mountain Man: Thomas Tate Tobin
    • In 1863 three Mexican National cousins, the Espinosas, went on a killing spree, murdering more than thirty English-Americans in the San Luis Valley, Colorado in retaliation for relatives killed in the Mexican-American War. When the authorities failed to capture these men – Wanted: Dead or Alive – they called in renowned adventurer, tracker, trapper, mountain man, guide, and US Army scout, Tom Tobin. Tobin was given fifteen men to assist him but went out alone instead. Upon returning he was asked how his trip went. Tobin is said to have replied “So-so”, before throwing down a sack which contained the severed heads of all three Espinosas.
Pat Garrett - Wikipedia
  • Patrick Floyd “Pat” Garrett
    • In November 1880, the sheriff of Lincoln County, New Mexico resigned and the county appointed Pat Garrett – a man well known for his skills with a gun – as his replacement. A  former saloon owner, Garrett was charged with tracking down an old acquaintance from his bar-keeping days. Twenty-one year old Henry McCarty had escaped from prison and was said to have murdered as many men as years he’d lived. McCarty was better known then, as now, as Billy the Kid. New Mexico Governor Lew Wallace offered a $500 reward for the Kid’s capture. After a bloody game of cat and mouse in which members of the Kid’s gang were gradually killed or arrested by Garrett, the lawman finally did for the outlaw; ambushing him in the dark and killing him with a single blast from his Sharps rifle. Garrett never received the reward as it was conditional of Billy being captured, not killed. To this day there are some who still maintain that Billy the Kid did not die that night, and that Garrett staged the whole thing so that his old friend could disappear once and for all.
Ralph Edgar “Papa” Thorson Jr. (1926-1991) - Find A Grave Memorial
  • Ralph “Papa” Thorson
    • Said to have apprehended more than twelve-thousand fugitives, Ralph “Papa” Thorson’s life as a Bounty Hunter was the basis for Steve McQueen’s final film “The Hunter” (1980).  Sometimes using the somewhat eccentric method of utilising astrological charts to locate criminals, Thorson also favoured the use of non-lethal force in the form of his self designed and built “Prowler Fowler” which fired buckshot filled beanbags at assailants. He was killed in 1994 by a car bomb, presumed to have been placed by one of the more than twelve-thousand enemies he’d made during his career. 
Domino Harvey: Model/Bounty Hunter
  • Domino Harvey
    • Domino was born in 1969 to actor Laurence Harvey, and fashion model Paulene Stone. Always a “tomboy” Domino had an interest in martial arts and action figures which was not shared by many of the other girls at her upper-class English boarding schools. Domino attended four such schools being expelled from more than one for her “unladylike” conduct. Dropping out of education, initially to pursue a career in modelling, Domino eventually found herself living in the USA. In 1993, having unsuccessfully applied to the Los Angeles Fire Department, she enrolled in a short course to become a bail recovery agent, or bounty hunter. Domino primarily went after drug dealers and thieves, but also tracked murderers during her time as a Bounty Hunter. She was incredibly good at her job and earned as much as $40,000 per year. Tragically, Domino became addicted to drugs and died of an overdose in 2005.
    • The same year as her death, a movie that was loosely based on her life title “Domino” starring Keira Knightly and Mickey Rourke came out. The movie isn’t remembered well, or remembered much at all, but I saw it years ago and I didn’t think it was too bad.
Domino - Rotten Tomatoes



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