When preparing for a bail arrest out of state, keep this in mind: meticulous planning in advance means fewer emergencies on the road.
While most recovery agents are usually somewhat familiar with bail-recovery laws in their home jurisdiction, problems often arise when traveling to other states to arrest bail jumpers. Despite the manufactured excitement portrayed in reality television, the professional recovery agent usually hopes for an uneventful and successful outcome when making an arrest. I’ll try to outline some proven methods for ensuring that you will face as little resistance as possible when traveling to a foreign state to arrest your quarry.
Know the laws of the jurisdiction into which you are traveling and operating.
Every state has its own statutes regarding the legality of bail arrests. Most of the statutes can be found on the internet at either a state website or Lexis-Nexis. They are usually very specific about proper procedures, including any documents, identification, or licenses that the recovery agent must have in order to operate in each state.
In states that also have regulatory agencies governing the bail and bail recovery industry, recovery agents should be familiar with those regulations as well. Printing these statutes and regulations and carrying a copy with you is also advisable, should you be called on to produce them or refer back to them later. Sitting in a parking lot in the middle of the night trying to do internet searches is never a good idea.
Contact the attorney general’s office (or equivalent) of the jurisdiction.
A quick phone call to this office will give you a sense of the state’s attitude toward bail enforcement should you encounter any legal trouble when you arrest your skip. Getting to talk to an assistant DA isn’t usually very difficult, and while they will almost never give you a solid legal position on your question, they’ll usually give you a good idea of the position the state will take if you find yourself on the wrong end of an arrest.
Be advised: They will almost never offer you legal advice, but you should be able to gauge for yourself the legal and political climate you will find yourself in should you be arrested. Remember, this is the office that will prosecute you if you find yourself sitting in jail because your arrest went bad. It’s a good idea to keep the name and phone number of the attorney that you talked to if it becomes necessary to produce this information later. Merely asserting that you spoke with “someone” will be given little or no credibility.
Contact the law enforcement agency at this location.
In many states, you’re legally required to check in with the local law enforcement agency where you will be operating. Even if no such notification is mandated, it’s always a good idea to call ahead and speak with someone at that agency. I would suggest, however, that you at least aim for the supervisor of patrol or the supervisor of the warrants or fugitive divisions. Either of these will be familiar with serving warrants and will be the most likely to have had some prior interaction with bail agents or recovery agents.
In smaller jurisdictions, it’s usually fairly easy to get a chief deputy, assistant chief, or if you’re very lucky, the sheriff himself on the phone. When talking with any of these people, be polite, be professional, and be brief. These are all very busy people and usually don’t have time for chit chat. You should also remember to get their names and their direct lines (if they’re willing), and promise to check in personally and introduce yourself if you do end up in their jurisdiction.
I cannot stress enough that if you find yourself in an adversarial position with an officer later, the fact that you have cleared your actions with one of his supervisors will go a long way toward diffusing a potentially bad situation.
Contact a local bonding company or an agent.
This should be the easiest of contacts to make. A quick Google search of “bail bonds” and the location where you are going will undoubtedly bring up several results for any jurisdiction in commercial bail states. Hopefully, the bonding agent you talk to will be familiar with both the actual laws governing lawful arrests and the attitude of law enforcement, which sometimes is almost as important.
If the bonding company representative isn’t cooperative, seems hesitant about answering your questions, or gives you information that contradicts your research thus far, you might consider calling more than one company. If you do find a company that is helpful to you, you should plan to stop by the office in person and introduce yourself. If nothing else, it will allow you to put a face with a name and give you a valuable contact in the future.
Finishing the job:
After all the phone calls and in-person introductions are done, and after confirming that you have all your ducks in a row, it’s finally time to go in and get your bail jumper. Do it as quickly and quietly as you can, and leave the area as soon as possible. No one will be expecting you to stand around and socialize; and the longer you have a skip in a foreign jurisdiction, the greater the chance that life will begin to imitate reality TV…and not in a good way.
The skip is now your prisoner. Snag him and get him out of there.
This may seem like a lot of preparation for what may be an uneventful “midnight run.” But it’s all those precautions and up-front calls that so often wind up making your arrest relatively easy and drama-free.
Good luck and good hunting!