Statutory Provisions and Legal Precedents in the Area of Bail Bondsmen and Bail Recovery Agents: Assessing a Fringe Element of the Criminal Justice System

Dean Dabney, Georgia State University
Sue Carter Collins, Georgia State University
Volkan Topalli, Georgia State University

Much mystique and folklore surrounds the roles and activities of bail bondsmen and bail recovery agents (aka "bounty hunters"). Although they have long operated on the fringe of the criminal justice system, the formal processing of the courts is heavily reliant on these licensed agents. While select individuals and cases gain notoriety through media exposes, there exists a paucity of scholarly literature on this topic. This paper reviews the existing statutory provisions and legal precedents that govern the practice of bail bondsmen and bail recovery agents across the U.S. We also consider civil actions brought against bail bondsmen and bail recovery agents by private citizens. Our analysis seeks to better contextualize the status of these legal actors as they operate within our system of justice.

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Updated 05/20/2006