Bounty hunting is the practice of capturing a known fugitive, who has with set conditions agreed to attend court in a criminal proceeding. The bail for the individual is posted by a bail bonds agency assuring the accused will return for the court proceedings. If the accused does not attend the court proceedings or fails to comply with the set conditions he is considered a bail jumper. The bail bondsmen will then have to forfeit the agreed upon amount to the court. Most bounty hunters are hired by a bail bondsmen. The bounty hunter is usually paid about 10% of the bond.
If the fugitive eludes, the bondsman, not the bounty hunter, is responsible for 100% of the total bail amount. This is a way of ensuring clients arrive at trial. Bounty hunters in the United States claim to catch about 90% of people who jump bail. In the State of Texas, those individuals engaging in the profession of bounty hunting must be licensed as a peace officer, level III-armed security guard, or a professionally licensed private investigator. These are the requirements set forth in the Texas Occupational Code Section 1702. (1)
Hiring a licensed professional private investigator, or security company is a common and practical solution for a bail bonds company. Private investigators and security companies are generally operated by individuals who have previous law enforcement, military service, or former federal agents. Most are professionally trained and competent individuals. The professional investigator knows that bounty hunting is not done without taking calculated risks.
My friend and colleague Fidel Garcia was recently killed as he attempted to capture a known fugitive at a Greenville Texas car dealership. The fugitive pulled and fumbled his gun as Fidel and his co-worker attempted to capture him. Unfortunately, the fugitive recovered his gun and fired killing the two professional investigators. Then the coward took his own life.
Fidel was a former peace officer, licensed private investigator, operated a security business, and an all-around decent human being. So much has been said in the media about Fidel’s quest to detain the fugitive and to provide for his family. Fidel was hired by a bail company after the fugitive left the state while on bail, awaiting trial for disarming a police officer and processing some type of drugs.
Many have said in the Media that Fidel acted recklessly, when he attempted to detain the fugitive at a Car Dealership in Greenville. As an investigator, I can see that this was likely the best option to detain the fugitive, as the likelihood of capturing him in public would catch him off-guard. It’s difficult for me to stomach the negative comments about a man who lived his life as god fearing, professional, loving and kind individual.
If you have ever watched Dog the Bounty Hunter, you see the hunt, and most often the bail jumper goes peacefully. The private investigator is able to collect their ten percent, bail companies revoke the bond, and the fugitive gets his day in court. It’s a system that has been around for years and ultimately Fidel did his job that day, he got the fugitive, but the cost was high because he paid with his life.
It’s the American dream work hard, feed your family, come home safe.