What is a Fugitive Recovery Agent?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Images By: Uros Petrovic, Ken Teegardin, Natara
  • Last Modified Date: 20 March 2020
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A fugitive recovery agent, also referred to as a bounty hunter or a bail enforcement agent, works to track down and arrest fleeing criminals. A person with this job goes after people who have been released from jail on bail and then fail to show up in court when required. Fugitive recovery agents work to bring these people to justice and typically receive a monetary award for their trouble.

When a person is arrested and charged with a criminal act, he may have to wait a significant amount of time before he’s given a trial. Most people prefer to be released on bail while they await their court dates. Essentially, this means a judge sets an amount that the accused has to pay in order to be released from jail until it is time for him to stand trial. This monetary amount is intended to ensure the person’s return for trial. If the accused does not return to stand trial, he can be arrested and lose the money he posted for his bail.


If an accused criminal doesn’t have enough money to make bail or does not want to pay the amount the court has requested, he may turn to a bail bondsman for help. The bail bondsman guarantees his return to court, usually for a fee of about 10 percent of the bail price. If the accused fails to show up, the bondsman may forfeit the bail money to the court. All too often, accused parties fail to show up for court, and bail bondsmen hire fugitive recovery agents to track them down.

The job of a fugitive recovery agent can be lucrative. If an agent manages to arrest a fugitive and turn him over for prosecution, he stands to earn a significant percentage of the bail bond money. This job can be dangerous, however, as many defendants are desperate to stay out of jail and unwilling to give up without a fight. As such, a fugitive recovery agent may have to capture some fugitives by force, at the risk of being shot, stabbed, beaten up, or even run over by a car.

An individual who wants to become a fugitive recovery agent usually has to be licensed in his jurisdiction. Licensing requirements may vary from place to place but often include jurisdiction-approved training. Additionally, a person who seeks licensing may have to submit to a background check and fulfill other requirements as well.



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