Yvonne Mason

Go West Young Man Go West:

The Outlaws Did and the Hunters Followed

California is another one of those states that tend to keep the laws and statutes for Bounty Hunters close to their chest so to speak. As I researched this state the pickings were very lean.

However, what I did find was very interesting. For instance a license is required which goes without saying, however, I found that the person must also be at least 18 years old. Which is very strange to me, you can’t be licensed to carry in most states until you are at least 21. They have to complete a 2 hour arrest course. This law also requires that a Bail Enforcement Agent has to notify his intent to apprehend his jumper to law enforcement six hours before he picks him up.

Now, I find that very interesting. The jumper more times than not will be gone in that amount of time. The reasoning behind this part of the law is to keep the hunter from forcibly entering the premises for any purpose except to pick up the jumper.

The hunter must carry certification of completion of required courses and training programs on his person and of course he shall not wear a badge or law enforcement type of apparel. I wonder is this includes bullet proof vest. They can not carry a firearm or weapon except in compliance with state law.

The hunter has 24 hours to deliver the jumper to either the court or the bonding agent if it is an instate pickup. If it is an out of state pick up they have 48 hours to deliver him to California.

Now I did find something very interesting in this state. According to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle there are more than 2.5 million arrest warrants outstanding in the State of California. Many are for misdemeanors, but thousands are for homicide, kidnapping, sexual assault and other very serious crimes, these warrants have remained unserved. The Question is why?

It appears that the state and local law enforcement agencies just sit on them and wait until they are picked up on some other crime. And to add insult injury they are re-released ROR (Released on Own Recognizance).

Also according to this same article it would appear the bonding companies seem to have a higher re-arrest rate than the agencies. Something to think about. The writer of the article thinks the hunters should serve the arrest warrants outstanding and bring those bad boys on in. It sounds like a plan to me.

Now that being said, in 1997 there was an incident where five hunters wearing ski masks( now why would they want to do that) kicked in a front door held children at gunpoint and shot a young couple, they were looking for a jumper.

It appeared the hunters were looking for an out of state jumper who had fled from California to Arizona. The bond on the jumper was $25,000.00 needless to say the bonding company wanted that boy.

The take down went like this. They kicked in the door. A woman and her two children were in one bedroom sleeping. She was held down and tied and hit on the head with a flashlight while two more of the hunters kicked in the door to another bedroom. Bullets flew from both the couple in the room and the hunters. Two hunters were hit but not hurt, they were wearing vests, the young couple was killed.

One hunter was charged with 2nd degree murder. This entire fiasco turned out to be mistaken identity. The hunters were at the wrong house.

It is stories like this which has given us as hunters a bad name and created the strict laws in the different states and has outlawed hunters in others. And of course the news media love this type of news it sells. It also speaks ill of those of us who are truly interested in bringing them in alive and well. It just takes too much red tape the other way and the clean up is murder.

* * *

Lee Lofland on NPR’s Talk of the Nation

Last Friday, legendary FBI criminal profiler, Clint Van Zandt, and I appeared as guests on the NPR radio show Talk Of The Nation. Our discussion was about the aggressive tactics used by police when questioning criminal suspects and witnesses.

Click the link below to listen to the show.


Yvonne Mason

Bounty Hunting in Hawaii

I know that all of you out there are wondering how Dog the Bounty Hunter is able to do his job. So, I did a bit of research on Bounty Hunting laws in Hawaii.

Apparently there are very few restrictions for the great state of Hawaii. There are lobbyists trying to get the legislature to make hunting laws more restrictive. Of course Dog is fighting that.

They can have a felony record, there appears to be no age restriction or any of the other laws on the books in the other 49 states. The way that Hawaii gets by with the hiring of felons in the bonding business is this:

There is a term called “respondeat superior” a key doctrine in the law of agency, which provides that a principal (employer) is responsible for the actions of his agent (employee) in the “course of employment” and this includes the typical independent contractor relationship which most recovery agents have with the client.

Thus, if a bounty hunter causes a liability, the bonding company for which the hunter works will be liable for the injuries as well. When it comes to light in court that the bondsman hired a felon, a jury will crucify everyone involved. It has happened on several occasions in the past.

If anything happens on Dog’s watch his wife Beth will be held liable.

There is a bill being discussed in the legislature would require that a person apply for a hunters license to be at least 21 years old, pass a state examination, have no felony or aggravated misdemeanor arrest record, have no conviction where a dangerous weapon was used and to also submit to a fingerprint and background check.

Duane (Dog) Chapman is fighting this bill. His contention is that even though he has a felony record, he has been on the right side of the law for over 20 years. He has received a pardon. He feels that his record should not prevent him from this line of work and he cites his 7,000 plus recovery record as his grounds. However, he has also stated he would be willing to help draft a bill which would give some restrictions because the current bill as it stands has to many restrictions

According to current state laws, “career criminals” are allowed to break down doors searching for their jumper. This statement was made in the bill which was introduced. But he agrees that before a hunter breaks down a door to a residence he must first have the suspect in sight.

Dog the Bounty Hunter also agreed that Hawaii needed to follow the example of the other states which requires training and identification for their hunters. But he said the law should bar a bonding agent or a hunter from carrying a firearm.

Duane Chapman uses the fact that he does not carry a firearm; he carries and uses mace which in his mind is a better weapon. He contends that if one needs to use a bullet one should call a cop.

Now in theory that is a wonderful idea. However, if a cop is on the scene and they are involved, then the hunter loses his bounty. If the jumper is placed in a squad car and carted off then hunter cannot collect his money.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but if I have to get close enough to spray mace then, I am opening myself up to a lot of potential problems.

If Duane Chapman lived in any of the other forty nine states he would not only not be allowed to carry a weapon, he could not even have one in his home. He could not become a licensed hunter.

Now the strange part of this is that a Bail Bondsman has to meet certain requirements before he can become a bonding agent. He has to be at least 18, not committed any act that is a ground for a licensure sanction, pay the applicable fees, pass a written test within two years of the license for which he has applied.

So the question begs to be asked, if the State of Hawaii has absolutely no restrictions on Hunters, what keeps just any one from trying to make a fast buck? What would keep even more convicted felons from applying at the local bondsman for a job? Or even just free lancing. The answer is nothing.

In order for me to be able to hunt I was checked out by every law enforcement agency out there. My fingerprints are on file with every agency as well.

I am required to carry a concealed weapons permit. And I have to obey the laws of the land in regard to the civil rights of my jumper and those whom I come in contact with.

I believe that some convicted felons can turn their life around and be productive. I have some reservations about felons chasing other felons.

Yvonne Mason

Bounty Hunting in the Great Southern State of North Carolina

This Monday I am discussing the great State of North Carolina’s Laws on Bounty Hunting.

Again I will begin with the statutes of the State. In North Carolina Hunters are called Bail Runners. They must be licensed NC Gen Stat 58-71-40. They must be over 18 years old with no felony convictions and a resident of the state. They must have necessary training and experience.NC Gen Stat 58-17-50. They have to take a mandatory 20 hours of education in order to procure a license. NC Gen Stat 58-71-71. They also must take a written examination NC Gen 58-71-70. They can only work for one bonding company at a time which is the same in Georgia. NC Gen Stat 58-71-65 (1996)

Now here comes the big one. Bondsmen and runners cannot enter the homes of third parties to apprehend a fugitive.

This statute was added because of the case of State v Mathis. 509 S.E. 2d 155 (N.C.1998)

The defendant William Tankersley,III signed a bond in the amount of 1,500.00 with Marie’s Bail Bonding Company. He had been charged with passing bad checks. When Mr. Tankersley failed to appear in court, a warrant was issued for his arrest. Two licensed bail bondsmen, Mathis and Williamson, were employed by Marie’s Bail Bonding Company on December 9, 1995 to find Mr. Tankersley and bring him into the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s office.

The two bondmen went to the sister-in-law of Mr. Tankersley, but he was not there. They then preceeded to his mother’s house which was listed as his place of residency. Tankersley’s mother Mrs. Susan Nelson had co-signed on the bond. Both Mrs. Nelson and her daughter Mrs. Noto had dealings with Marie’s Bail Bonding before.

The bond showed that the defendant Mr. Tankersley drove a white 1990 Mazda MX-6 and that Mrs. Nelson drove a blue 1990 Toyota Camry.

When the agents arrived at the residence they were told by Mrs. Noto that Tankersley was not at home. She alleged he had gone shopping with his mother in the white Mazda. She was asked if she had been contacted by the bonding agency and her reply was no. However, Tankersley had spoken to the bonding co. before he left the house. The house was watched for several hours and at around 6:47pm Mathis and Williamson were called and told that Mrs. Nelson had returned.

This is where it gets ugly. Mathis and Williamson returned to the residence and see the White Mazda in the driveway. Mathis went to the back door and Williamson to the front. When Mathis knocked on the back door Mrs. Nelson answered and stepped outside closing the glass storm door behind her.

Mathis identified himself showed her his license and explained he was there to pick up her son.

Mrs. Nelson stated her son was not home and refused to allow Mathis to enter the house. Mathis told her he knew her son was there because the Mazda was in the driveway. She shot back with the statement that the Mazda was no longer his car and he no longer drove it.

Mathis told Mrs. Nelson that if it would make her feel better she could call the police and that he was going into the residence. “I have a warrant and I am going to leave when I get my man.”

Mrs. Nelson blocked the door. Mathis began to open the door and she began striking him and yelling loudly. Mathis pushed the storm door against Mrs. Nelson pinning her against the exterior wall of the house. As he pushed in one direction she pushed in the other which caused the clips holding the glass in place to pop out damaging the door.

In the meantime Williamson the other runner was able to enter the house. Mrs. Nelson followed them into the house and called the cops. The cops came and ran the runners out of the house and told them as soon as an arrest was made they would call them to pick Tankersley up. No call was made. At 2:00am Mathis and Williamson went back to the house flagged down a cop and the jumper (Tankerlsey) was taken into custody.

Because of this case, Bail bondsmen and Runners can no longer enter the home of a third party. The courts concluded that a bondsman or a Runner cannot enter the home of a third party even if the defendant lives there. Even though Tankersley listed his mother’s house as his place of residency the courts stated that the bondsmen could not enter the house forcefully because the house was the primary residence of Mrs. Nelson and she refused to give permission.

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Yvonne Mason


As promised, here are the bounty hunting laws in the great state of Tennessee.

If one wants to hunt jumpers in Tennessee one must apply and get a copy of their own criminal background and present it to the Department of Insurance. (T.C.A. 40-11-317)

Each year, every professional bondsman who is licensed to do business in Tennessee has to file with the clerk of the circuit court of every county they furnish bonding money- hunt etc. a report of the assets and liabilities no later than July 15th.(T.C.A. 40-11-303)

They will also get 8 hours of continuing education during each twelve month period beginning Jan 1, 1997. (T.C. A. 40-11-401)

Now comes the fun part. The authority of the Bail Agent to arrest:

The bail bondsman/hunter may arrest the defendant on a certified copy of the undertaking, at any place either in or out of the state or may by written authority endorsed on such copy, authorize another person to make the arrest. (T.C.A. 40-11-133)

No person who has been “convicted of a felony” shall serve as a bounty hunter in the State of Tennessee. If one who has been convicted poses as a hunter he can be charged and or convicted of a Class A Misdemeanor.

Now this is where it really gets fun.

Before a hunter takes into custody any person who has failed to appear in court, such bounty hunter shall comply with 40-11-401, they shall make a good faith effort to verify the person’s address and present to the office of the appropriate law enforcement officer of the political subdivision where the taking shall occur.

They must show:

A Certified copy of the underlying criminal process against the defendant; a certified copy of the bond or capias; proper credentials from a professional bondsman in Tennessee or another state verifying that the bounty hunter is an agent of a professional bondsman and a pocket cart certifying that the bounty hunter has completed the training required by this section or if the bounty hunter is from a state other than Tennessee, proof that such bounty hunter successfully completed an equivalent amount of training in the bounty hunter’s home state within the last year.

Failure to present all of the above can cause said hunter to be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor.

Now you all probably are wondering why the states all have laws concerning hunters and why some states won’t even allow hunters. Well, I am glad you asked. I have the answer for you.

United States Supreme Court: Taylor v Taintor 16 Wall, 36

August 1997 was a red letter day and not in a good way. A couple in Phoenix, Ar. was murdered by five intruders who presented themselves as bounty hunters. The national media jumped on this story and reported it as a pick up gone south. By the time it was determined that it was not hunters but instead very bad men the story was shelved.

Even though the fake hunters had three murder convictions and two trials pending, the public and officials were left with the mythical residue of abuses by hunters. The reaction was such a knee jerk reaction that many legislatures response to this brutal murder was to regulate hunters.

In 1998 14 states dropped bills on this topic. In 1999, 26 states proposed legislation. Not every bill passed. Other states carried the debate over into the next year.

While all states have some provision, not every state has laws which make a distinction between the bondsman and the hunter. Ten states added specific provisions for hunters to their codes and 13 states have legislation pending for that purpose.

I remember this case. I remember the media having a field day with this senseless murder. At the time my gut instinct told me it was probably a drug deal gone south. But no one ever heard the results of the trial, the charges, or the fact that it was not hunters who had killed those folks. It was the very ones hunters look for. How sad is that?

Some states are more rigid than others and then there are some such as Florida which says no way are hunters legal. In some states a hunter cannot carry his weapon into that state. He also have to go to the jurisdiction where he feels his jumper is and let law enforcement know he is there to do a pick up. In Tennessee law enforcement goes with the hunter to the location. I guess they want to protect the hunter and the criminal.

Yvonne Mason

Bounty Hunting in Florida – it is a big “No, No.” All jumpers are hunted by the bail bond companies. They lobbied in Tallahassee (which is the Capital of Florida for those of you who have been asleep at the wheel for the last one hundred years) to rid the state of its hunters.

Not only did they lobby against hunters, they made it a 3rd class felony for someone to come into the State to hunt and pick up a jumper from out of state if they are not licensed in the state where the bond is written. Which is not a bad thing. Otherwise there would be all kinds of weirdos running around trying to pick up jumpers.

Any way the law in Florida states that Free Lance Hunters are BANNED – They do not allow Bounty Hunters. Fugitives can only be recovered by those whom they are bonded out by. In other words jumpers can only be recovered by the bonding company who posted the bond.

Florida even kicked it up a notch. It is also illegal to refer to oneself as a Bounty Hunter, bail enforcement agent, fugitive recovery agent, or anything other than “limited surety agent” or a “professional bail bondsman.”

The licensing Requirements for the State of Florida are:

In order to undertake bail in Florida, a person must have a license (AR4-221.001,FS 648.26,648.30) Florida law specifies two kinds of bail bond agent.

1. A limited surety agent, defined as a person appointed by an insurer to execute bail bonds(FS 648.25(5))

2. A Professional bail bond agent, defined as a person who pledges US currency as security for a bail bond (FS 648.25 (7))

Okay now that we have that out of the way for grins and giggles I am going to add the qualifications for a bail bond license just in case any of you might want to become one of the thousands of bail bond agents in Sunny Florida or you might want to write a book using the many thousands of agents in Sunny Florida

One must comply with the provisions of 648.355 and obtain a temporary license- (FS 648.34(2))

One must be at least 18 years old and hold a high school diploma or equivalent (FS 648.34(2)(a))

Be a United States Citizen or legal (note that word) Alien with work authorization (FS 648.34(2)(b))

Be a resident of Florida (FS 648.34(2)(b))

Place of business must be located in Florida where the records will be maintained and open during reasonable business hours. (FS 648.34(2))

Must be vouched for and recommended by three reputable citizens who are residents of the county where the applicant proposes to engage in bail bond business (FS 648.34(2)(d))

Be of good character with no convictions on a felony, crime of moral turpitude, or a crime punishable by 1 year or more (FS648.34(2)(e))

Passage of required examinations (FS 648.34 (2)(f))

Must furnish photo and fingerprints with application (FS 648.34(4))

Must pay for own required credit and background check (FS 648.34(3))

Must complete 14 hours of continuing education courses every two years (FS 648.385)

Professional Bail Bond agents also have to file a detailed financial statement under oath with each application for license or renewal and they also have to file the rating plan proposed for use in writing bail bonds. The plan has to be approved by the office prior to issuance of the license (648.35(2))

By now I am sure you are probably tired of reading the laws by which one can become a bonding agent in the Beautiful State of Florida. So I will dispense with the legalities for a while and tell all of you another one of my stories. This one will cause you to laugh so hard you will spill your coffee or whatever liquid you are drinking.

My partners and I had a failure to appear warrant on a young lady who happened to be Hispanic. She had been arrested for writing a bad check. She was out on a very large bond. The bond was around 30,000. Any way the day was fast approaching that the bonding company was going to have to fork over the entire amount. So we went to work.

We had an address – When we arrived at the house, surprise no one was there. The house was shut up tight as a drum. So we started knocking on doors.

After about the third house we found someone home – actually we found several someones home. This is how it went down.

One of my partner’s the one who was of Hispanic background and I went to the front door. My other partner went to the back door. We knocked on the front door and waited with our breaths held. A young girl answered the door. She of course spoke no English. My partner told her who we were and who we were looking for.

The young mother invited us in. We stood inside the front door. Now here is where I have to describe the scene.

We are standing inside the front door – to my left there was a set of stairs leading to the upper half of the two story house. In front of us was a living room which led into the back part of the house. In the living room a grandmother was sitting in a chair with a small baby in her lap. There were two small children playing on the floor – There were two small dogs on the floor with the children.

As we stood in the doorway, the young mother walks out of the room toward the back part of the house- my partner and I look at each other. We Shrug and wait.

After about five minutes the young mother returns but not alone. Behind her is the tallest man I have ever seen. He weighed in at about 280-290 and he was stocky.

Now, there are three adults in this living room who don’t speak English, three children, two dogs and my partner and I standing at the front door and my other partner at the back door.

My partner who spoke Spanish was rapidly talking to the man and asking about our jumper. There was a lot of head shaking and hand movements. Out of the corner of my eye I see a car pull up in the driveway and park at the back of the house. Much to my surprise, I see an older gentleman walking through the dining room, he had just returned from the market.

In the mean time, I glance up toward the upstairs and two more little dogs start down the stairs, along with another female adult. I am getting a bit nervous. WE now have five adults, four dogs three children all in the living room. My partner is still speaking in rapid Spanish, the tall man is still answering in rapid Spanish and doing extreme arm waving.

My partner who was at the back door in the meantime has walked around to the front and come into the house. So now all three of us are standing just inside the front door. My Spanish speaking partner is in the middle I am on the right of him and my other partner is to his left watching the upstairs.

Again, two more little dogs make their way downstairs followed this time by two females and two males. Now the living room is very crowded and we are a bit on the nervous side. The Spanish is flying back and forth like the wind and the children are watching all of us. The dogs have settled in for the entertainment on the floor and everyone is talking at once.

After about 10 minutes of this and all three of us are getting a bit nervous the dogs are indifferent the children are laughing and playing because they have grown bored and all the other adults are adamant that our jumper is not there.

After about an hour it has been determined that our jumper was not only not in the house or the county – She was not in the country. She had been- are you ready for this- back across the border to Mexico.

Talk about a kick in the teeth.

We gladly vacated the premises willing to wait another day for our quarry.

Stay Tuned there is more where that came from- Next Week I will talk about the great state of Tenn and their laws on hunting.

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Yvonne Mason

Bounty Hunting in the State of Georgia

Okay everyone who has been waiting and biting their fingernails. Now is the time to get down to the nitty gritty of Bounty Hunting.

Since I am from the beautiful state of Georgia and since that is where I got my degree and started my path of finding those who don’t wish to be found, I will start there.

The term used in Georgia for Bounty Hunters is “Bail Recovery Agents”. This title suggests that the person who performs services or takes action for the purpose of apprehending the principal (the jumper) on a bail bond which had been granted in the State of Ga. or the capturing a fugitive who has escaped from bail in Ga. for gratuity, benefit or compensation.

Bail Recovery agents have to take continuing education in order to stay up to date on all the new laws regarding jumpers and warrants. Every January they have to take a class which is monitored by the Bonding Department which is responsible for that jurisdiction.

Now, on to the fun.

Once the jumper fails to make his first appearance to plea his case then the judge forfeits the bond and orders an execution hearing of not sooner than 120 days from that day. Notice of the execution hearing shall be served within 10 days from the failure to appear date. It can be served either by mail or overnight delivery to the bonding company. Once the notice is mailed the clock starts ticking. Time to start looking for the jumper before the bonding company loses all of the bond money. No bonding agency wants to lose thousands of dollars because the defendant doesn’t want to go to court.

As a hunter when I went into a county other than my own, I had to notify the local law enforcement agency that I was there and who I was looking for. I could inform that jurisdiction any way I deemed fit. If an out of state hunter came into town, they had to produce the warrant for “failure to appear” from the city, county or state court which had produced it. They also had to produce the correction documentation showing they were licensed hunters. If the out of state agent doesn’t have to be licensed in his home state he must contact a Ga. hunter and they have to go with the out of state hunter to do the pickup.

Any hunter who fails to register with local enforcement or who is otherwise unqualified – and still tries to do a pick up or succeeds in doing the pickup will be charged with a misdemeanor if he is convicted of the first charge. If unqualified hunters does it again and gets charged he is charged with a felony. He can be sentenced to prison for 1-5 years.

If the bondsman hires an unqualified hunter he also can be charged with a misdemeanor on the first offense Ga. Code 17-6-56 and 17-6-57.

Bounty hunter must be at least 25 years old, must be a U.S. citizen, must obtain a gun permit, and must notify the local police of the intended arrest. Bondsmen must register with the sheriff of the county in which the bondsman is a resident all bail recovery agents that he employs. A bounty hunter must carry identification cards issued by bondsman, which describe the bounty hunter’s physical appearance, and contains the bondsman’s signature. Bounty hunter cannot wear clothing or carry badges suggesting that he is a public employee. An out of state recovery agent must be able to prove that he is licensed in his home state, or hire a Georgia bounty hunter if there is no licensing law in his home state. Ga. Code § 17-6-56 through 17-6-58.

The second conviction will be considered a felony and the bonding agent can also be sentenced to 1-5 years as well as a fine of up to 10,000.

No hunter can carry or display any uniform, badge, shield card or other items with any printing which indicates or eludes the that agent belonging to any state of or federal government. In other words, a hunter can not in any way elude, state of pretend he is with law enforcement. He isn’t! If he does the hunter can be charged and convicted of (you guessed it a felony) and can go directly to jail for 1-5 years plus be charged 10,000 in fines.

Now for the part you all have been waiting for. As Bail Recovery Agents we have to be very careful when we go onto a property which may or may not have the jumper. We have to watch what we say, how we say it and no we can’t kick in doors. If we do cause any damage to the location well guess what- we can be charged with destruction of property. If we try to pick up the wrong person we can be charged with assault and if we draw our weapon we can be charged with assault with a deadly weapon. Personally I don’t want to become the hunted and I really don’t want fork over money in fines.

In the State of Ga. as hunters we can carry a weapon however, we have to have a CWP better known as a concealed weapons permit. We have to abide by the laws of that permit. We cannot carry it into banks, schools etc. We are run through a background check by every known law enforcement agency out there. So nothing is hidden. If a hunter has a felony record, had been admitted to a facility for suicide attempts, has been charged and convicted of spousal or child abuse, or has been other than honorable discharged from the military no permit will be issued. They can still hunt, they just can’t carry a firearm.

If we cause damage to the property or the person we are liable for all costs involved for repairs or medical. We also stand to be charged with civil suits.

So armed with my knowledge, my warrant and my partners we start looking for what is known as cold cases. These are my favorite. They are cases which are getting to the end of the clock. The bonding company is getting ready to sign the check over to the courts.

One of the first cases I worked involved a young man from Jamaica. He should have gone down as one of the stupid jumpers. He should have been given that sign.

Anyway, we got the jacket (case file) and went to work. He had been arrested on a drunk driving charge in downtown Atlanta. His sister had made her way to the bonding agency next door to the jail (how convenient) and signed his bond. When he retrieved his belongings from the desk sergeant he was told he was free to go.

Which is exactly what he did. He went and was not heard from again. That is until the night my partners picked him back up getting out of the car at his sister’s apartment. But I digress.

I got the jacket and we had less the five days to find our boy. So I went to work. I started with his sister who had signed his bond. She pretended that she had no idea where he was or if he was coming back. She played her part very well. And I played mine. I pretended that I believed her. I went to the next name on the list his employer again, they had no clue. I called friends and foe alike. It appeared he had fallen off the face of the earth. But I knew better. They love to hide in plain sight. They think they become invisible. Right!

For three days I called everyone on his list and for those three days I continued to try and find the sister’s address. She had left that information off the paperwork. Silly Girl.

Anyway, through my ability and cunning and power of persuasion I finally found an address for the sister.

I called my partners and told them I had it. I also told them that he would show up at her residence. That was part of his comfort zone. He would show. So being the ever vigilant and believing partners they were they went to the apartment complex and waited. And waited and waited and waited. I am sure they were calling me everything they could think of.

Anyway, about 11:00pm my partners saw a car which resembled the jumper’s – the tag number matched. So it was safe to assume that if was our man.

My partners waited for him to park and get out. They slowly vacated the stakeout car and walked very carefully up to our quarry.

They called out his name and he stopped and turned around to see who was calling him. One of my partners had his cuffs already out and the other one was ready to draw his weapon if needed.

Once it was established that it was indeed our boy, he was shown the failure to appear warrant, cuffed and stuffed into the back of the SUV.

On the way back to downtown Atlanta jail he was asked why he had not shown up in court. Are you ready for this answer? Come on now try to guess, don’t peek.

Okay I will tell you.

His answer was “When the man told me I could go, that I was done, I thought it was finished. I didn’t know I was supposed to go to court.” That my friends- was a direct quote.

When my partners called me and told me they had our boy and what he had said, my response was “Here’s your sign.”

The beauty of being a hunter is we know the criminal is not that bright even though they pretend to be. We know what they are thinking, what they are doing and where they will go before they do. They always go to that comfort zone. They always go back to that place they feel safe. They always contact those who are on the reference list which is in the jacket. They always slip up. It just takes a lot of patience, time and waiting.

Next Monday I will talk about Florida and if a hunter can cross over from another state to pick up a jumper from Ga.

Yvonne Mason

Basics of Hunting

As I promised now I am getting down to the meat of the matter the basics of hunting. Most common folk have this misguided notion that a bounty hunter goes in “with guns blazing.” While on the silver screen it makes for good viewing that is not how it works.

True Bounty Hunting is a series of boring phone calls to various folks listed on the personal information sheet which should have been filled out when the bond was posted. It consists of sitting for long hours in stakeouts waiting for the jumper to show up at any number of his local haunts.

By the time the hunter gets the jacket, aka the folder of the jumper, the jacket has grown cold. In other words, the accused has not shown up for his hearing, a warrant has been issued for failure to appear and the bonding company has exhausted all means of looking. It is time for the hunter to work his magic.

When I hunted I loved cold cases. They were a challenge in more ways than one. Because of my background in criminal justice and my ability to understand the basic human nature of man cold cases were right up my alley.

Human beings are creatures of habit, even those on the run. They can’t help doing some of the things they do. Case in point, when a jumper jumps the first thing he does is return to his comfort zone. We all have one. That zone is about a 35 mile radius. It consists of places and people we know and trust. A place we feel safe to return to. Most of the time in that zone there are people who will cover for us. Those people include of course mom, best friend, wife, ex-wife, girlfriend, ex-girlfriend, grandmother. Maybe dad.

Once I determine the comfort zone. I go to work. I start the call to the most obvious first. The one who signed and put up the 10% for the bond. That is usually a best friend.

When I make the call it is a friendly call like I am just looking for my jumper not as a hunter but as a friend. If the person I am talking to plays stupid, I remain friendly. I don’t want to spook him. I also don’t want him calling the others on the list before I get to them. Next on my calling list is mom. Again I am very friendly. I might or might not tell her who I am and why I am looking for her child. I want it to remain friendly.

The conversation might go something like this:

“Mrs. Jones?”


“Hi, how are you today?”


“Mrs. Jones, my name is ____, I am a friend of your son/daughter. I just got back into town and was trying to get back in touch with _____. Do you know how I can reach them? Do they live with you or have they already moved?”

This keeps mom from just giving me a yes or no question. She has to talk to me. This is very important in the hunt. Yes or no questions will not help you. The hunter is looking for information. So to continue.

“Well, ________, moved out a while back. He/she moved to ______.”

“Really, well do you know if he/she is still working at _______ or did they finally get the job over at _____?”

Again it is not a yes or no question. Mom’s answer will give me more information.

I will keep asking questions until I feel that mom has told me either all she knows or all she is going to give up with this conversation. I will get hard core later.

Before I hang up I ask her what phone number I can reach_______ at. Again she is forced to give me an answer. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. We save the hard core for another day. I politely close the conversation.

My next call is to the wife/ex- wife/girlfriend/ex-girlfriend. Again it is a polite conversation. I don’t want to appear threatening yet. They will become my best friend, especially if my jumper has pissed them off. There is an old adage “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” Let me tell you, I have heard stories. That adage is true. They will roll in a heartbeat. But the hunter has to know when and how to push those buttons. Their first instinct is to protect.

By the time the first phone call is finished I have really gleaned a lot of information. Information which I use when I continue down the list. It becomes like the thread of a tapestry which is becoming unraveled.

These phone calls could continue for several days and with each day I become more aggressive. My favorite line to the person how has gone on the bond when I am not getting co-operation is this:

“My judge doesn’t care what body he gets in front of him, he just wants a body – so be prepared I am on my way to pick you up.” Funny how that works. They don’t know they can be charged with aiding and abetting. More times than not they roll very fast. If they don’t know where my jumper is – they know who does. It is like a dam bursting they can’t talk fast enough. The words tumble out.

Once I get a place on my jumper who thinks he is hiding in plain sight, I usually sit for hours. I have to wait for him to make an appearance.

I worked with two partners. They both were former Marines and both had been cops in NY. They were not nonsense. One had a Hispanic background and the other was Afro-American. I am white, five feet nothing, and weigh maybe 115.

Anyway, we had a jumper I had worked on for several weeks. Time was running out. Our bonding company was going to pay the entire bond to the courts. I was ready to shoot him myself when we found him.

I had begged my partners to let me go into a bad part of town to set up a sting in a drug deal we knew he was dealing in a certain area. They refused. Silly men. After much bickering back and forth and much foot stomping on my part, I pulled myself together and went to plan “B”.

There was one number we had not yet called. That call was to my jumper’s girlfriend’s ex-husband. I have to tell you. We hit the mother lode.

The conversation went something like this.



“My name is Yvonne, I need your help.” See how nicely I asked?

“What do you need” He is really leery.

“Well, I am looking for Jane (the girlfriend) do you happen to know where I can find her or (George)”

Well, it was like the Fourth of July.

“That bitch, he said, she is in jail.”

“Really and why is that?”

“She got caught selling to an undercover cop and she had my eldest son with her. They both are in Henry County jail and that idiot goes to see her every Tuesday.”

See how he just volunteered that wonderful information.

Well, as I smiled gleefully, I thanked him and hung up the phone. I called my partners and told them I would be calling Henry County to see if she was there and if our jumper did indeed visit her on Tues. at 2:00. Sure enough he was on the visitors log and sure enough she was still there.

What could be sweeter. My partners, took off to South Atlanta, to Henry County. They parked the SUV in the lot and waited. The waited until 1:45 no jumper, 1:55 no jumper – they were not happy.

But all was not lost, they were getting ready to leave, they had decided to leave in the next five minutes when much to their surprise who should appear.

It was 2:15 and a male was approaching the steps leading to the jail. He appeared not to be in much of a hurry. My partners causally got out of the SUV and walked slowly up behind him as he continued up the steps. Right before he turned the knob to enter the building they identified themselves and cuffed him.

They told him they had someone who really wanted to talk to him. So they promptly called me.

That was a good day. It was a day which paid off a lot of hard work, which at times seemed hopeless.

No guns were drawn, no one was hurt. But we got our man. He went willingly he knew he was caught.

There is an adage which I was raised on, “When one draws a gun one must be prepared to use it – if one doesn’t one will be dead.”

I know how to handle a gun I am licensed to carry. I use a Smith and Wesson Semi with a clip that holds 12 shots with one in the chamber. I carry a back up a 380 Kel -Tec I was trained very well. However, I never want to have to use it. I never hunt alone. It is too dangerous.

Next Week- I begin the series on the hunting laws in the different states.

Florida’s Most Wanted

Eric John Ritter

Christopher J. Reichstein

Luis Perez Amezcua

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Yvonne Mason

The Graveyard Shift welcomes back author/bounty hunter Yvonne Mason for part two of Bringing ‘Em In Dead or Alive.

Yvonne Mason is the eldest of five children, Yvonne was born May 17, 1951 in Atlanta, Georgia. Raised in East Point, Georgia, she moved to Jackson County, Ga. until 2006 then moved to Port St. Lucie, Florida where she currently makes her home.

Yvonne is a licensed bounty hunter for the state of Georgia.

After a 34 year absence, returned to college in 2004. Graduated with honors in Criminal Justice with an Associate’s degree from Lanier Technical College in 2006.

Nominated for the prestigious GOAL award in 2005 which encompasses all of the technical colleges.

This award is based not only on excellence in academics but also leadership, positive attitude and the willingness to excel in one’s major.

Yvonne is currently the author of several novels, including:

Stan’s Story– the true story of her brother’s accomplishments, it has been compared to the style of Capote, and is currently being rewritten with new information for re-release.

Tangled Minds – a riveting story about a young girl’s bad decision and how it taints everyone’s life around her yet still manages to show that hope is always possible. This novel has been compared to the writing of Steinbeck and is currently being written as a screenplay.

Brilliant Insanity – to be released in July 2008.

Silent Scream – to be released in fall of 2008.

Prelude to Bounty Hunting in the United States

I know I said my second blog would begin the laws in the different states for the legality of Bounty Hunting. However, I felt it was necessary to take a step back and talk about the Eight Amendment. I touched on it briefly in my first blog.

The Eight Amendment deals with protecting three rights of citizens.

That excessive bail shall not be required

That excessive fines shall not be imposed

That cruel and unusual punishment shall not be inflicted.

This amendment has been the center of controversy surrounding the death penalty. But, it also in embroiled in controversy surrounding bail and fines. Some would say that some bails and fines are excessive in relationship to the crime.

So, let’s start at the beginning and then I will leave it to you the reader to draw your own conclusions as to your opinions about bails and fines. Believe me, this is part of the basis for being a good hunter. Knowing the history of the Eighth Amendment and the history of hunters will give one insight as to the bad rep we as hunters have acquired through the years.

In early America the terms of punishment included public humiliation, branding, amputation and other unspeakable crimes against the accused.

Dunking stool

The stocks

Cat-o-four tails

In 1641 the Massachusetts Body of Liberties was enacted. This body provided a right to bail and prohibited cruel and unusual punishment. The idea of being incarcerated in prison for an indefinite length of time without any opportunity for even a temporary release was even abhorrent to those who understood how restrictive government could be.

The Puritans when they founded the Massachusetts Bay colony wanted to eliminate English punishment such as cutting off and burning at the stake. The body of liberties still allowed the death penalty for religious crimes such as blasphemy but would not allow the death penalty for crimes of burglary and robbery which had been capital crimes in England.

So began the Eighth Amendment, beginning with the availability of granting bail.

Bail is both a verb and a noun both dealing with pre-trial release. Bail is the act of pretrial release of the defendant. The defendant promises to return to trial by using some form of collateral, which is most often money. The money is also called bail.

Bail has a dual purpose. It helps to assure the courts that the accused will appear for trial. Secondly, it maintains the presumption of innocence, avoiding the continued incarceration of the accused but yet not convicted of a crime. The granting of bail allows the accused to continue gainful employment while his case is being prepared.

Excessive bail is prohibited by the Constitution. However, bail itself is not guaranteed, not has the 8th Amendment ever been incorporated with the 14th Amendment to apply to the states. The right to bail historically has been assumed through case and statutory law rather than constitutionally being guaranteed.

In other words, the Constitution does not guarantee the right to bail; it only prohibits excessive bail which it doesn’t define.

In the case of Capital Crimes bail may be denied. A couple examples of bail being denied would be murder involving the death penalty.

The amount of bail does not necessarily have to be something the accused can pay. This has created a debate among law makers and enforcement. The poor don’t have access to bail money and therefore they must stay incarcerated until trial. The rich on the other hand have the funds to make bail.

In 1789 the Judiciary Act of 1789 provided bail for non capital crimes. In 1966 the Bail Reform Act was brought into being. This act allowed for indigent accused to have access to bail. The act would assure the defendant would not remain in jail because they couldn’t afford bail and it also required the judges to consider other ways for the accused to guarantee their appearance in court.

This act allowed Judges to consider a defendants background, family ties, prior bad acts, and if the defendant might be a flight risk. With all of these factors considered some defendants were allowed to be ROR’d (released on their own recognizance). This ROR meant the courts believed the defendant would re-appear on their own. No bail money was required to be posted for the release.

In 1984 there was another Bail Reform Act. This act granted the judicial authority to include specific conditions of release. This was for the safety of the community and eliminated a presumption in favor of pretrial release through the bail process. This allowed the prosecution to demonstrate in a hearing the existence of clear and convincing evidence that no conditions placed on the accused would guarantee the safety of the community. In other words the courts could determine that the community would be at risk and the defendant would not re-appear at trial. This was known as preventive detention. It authorized Judges to predict the probability of future criminal conduct by those who had been accused of serious offenses and gave them the authority to deny bail based on those grounds.

This now brings us to the Commercial Bail. In the private bail bonding business a bondsman posts a bond for up to 10% of the bail amount. This is posted to the courts and the court collects the whole amount from the bonding company if the defendant fails to appear. This is called commercial bail. Bonding companies have between 30-45 days to find the defendant if not they lose thousands of dollars.

Bonding companies hate losing their money to the court system. So they do one of two things. They either help the cops look for the defendant or they hire Hunters.

Stay Tuned for the next installment next Monday.

* * *

Crime report of the day

(from actual police reports)

At 1119 hours this Officer responded to _______ Avenue to assist a female subject that had locked herself in a bedroom for two hours and could not get out. This officer instructed her to turn the button on the doorknob. She did and came out.

*Tomorrow, author Hallie Ephron talks about true crime.

Yvonne Mason

Yvonne Mason is the eldest of five children, Yvonne was born May 17, 1951 in Atlanta, Georgia. Raised in East Point, Georgia, she moved to Jackson County, Ga. until 2006 then moved to Port St. Lucie, Florida where she currently makes her home.

Yvonne is a licensed bounty hunter for the state of Georgia.

After a 34 year absence, returned to college in 2004. Graduated with honors in Criminal Justice with an Associate’s degree from Lanier Technical College in 2006.

Nominated for the prestigious GOAL award in 2005 which encompasses all of the technical colleges.

This award is based not only on excellence in academics but also leadership, positive attitude and the willingness to excel in one’s major.

Yvonne is currently the author of several novels, including:

Stan’s Story– the true story of her brother’s accomplishments, it has been compared to the style of Capote, and is currently being rewritten with new information for re-release.

Tangled Minds – a riveting story about a young girl’s bad decision and how it taints everyone’s life around her yet still manages to show that hope is always possible. This novel has been compared to the writing of Steinbeck and is currently being written as a screenplay.

Brilliant Insanity – to be released in July 2008.

Silent Scream – to be released in fall of 2008.

Yvonne Mason:

Since there has been so much interest in the field known as Bounty Hunting, I thought I would take the time to inform and educate those who wish to know.

The art of Bounty Hunting has been around since at least 13th century. It has its origins in England. In the beginning as they say, the bounty was not an amount of money. It was a person.

That person was responsible for making sure the accused appeared in court. If the accused failed to appear the bounty also known as the custodian was taken into custody and hung in the accused place. As you might guess this created some ill feelings amongst the custodians they literally lost their heads over those they became responsible for.

This practice became such a pain both for the custodian and the courts who were hanging innocents that British Parliament decided it would be in the best interest of the courts to make a slight change in the way the bounty was set. In 1679 the British Parliament in their infinite wisdom passed a law which became known as the Habeas Corpus Act. The words Habeas Corpus comes from the Latin which means “You have the body.” The custodian had the body of the accused or at least was supposed to. Sometimes the body had fled to parts unknown.

The law read in part “within two days after the party shall be brought before them, the said Lord Chandler or Lord Keeper… shall discharge the said prisoner from his imprisonment, taking his or their recognizance with one or more sureties, in an sum according to their discretions, having regard to the quality of the prisoner and nature of the offense, for his or their appearance in the court of the King’s bench the term following…”

Parliament took the burden off the custodian as physical payment and changed it to a monetary bill. This assured the courts the accused would show up for his hearing and took the physical burden of the custodian losing his life off his shoulders. However, he was still responsible for making sure the accused appeared. Failure to appear cost the custodian the bond. So instead of losing his life the custodian lost his money. It was a nice swap. The custodian kept his life and forfeited his money. Now it was up to him to go out and either make sure his accused was in court on the appointed day or go find him and bring him in so as not to lose his hard earned coins. America as a babe in the woods took her cue from the British Parliament.

When young America gained her independence and wrote the Constitution the eighth amendment was added. The eighth amendment was taken from the English “Habeas Corpus Act” of 1679.

The eighth amendment states:

“Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

However, there were no terms as to which crimes were allowed bail and which were not. In 1789 the US Judicial Court System was established and they defined the terms of offenses which one could post bail.

The first case which set the precedence for Hunters to go to other states and pick up a jumper and to act as an agent for the bondsman was the case of Taylor v Taintor. The year was 1872.

Taylor left the state after he was released on bail and the hunter went after him. When it was appealed to the Supreme Court the courts agreed that the bondsman or the agent for the bondsman could cross state lines to pick up the jumper.

This case set the yardstick for hunters. That yardstick was no boundaries for hunters. Hunters could pick up jumpers on the Sabbath, break and enter a home, pull the jumper off a job, and any other means to recover the body. Habeas Corpus was abused and used to the advantage of those in politics.

During the civil war President Lincoln suspended the Habeas Corpus law. This created a firestorm of upheaval in the south. Political prisoners who had been rounded up after Lincoln suspended the Habeas Corpus were released. The ruling was that only the Supreme Court had the authority to suspended Habeas Corpus.

Fast Forward to the wild, wild, west. Wanted posters were placed in every sheriff’s office in every town. They couldn’t go out and bring in all the bad guys. Enter the bounty hunter. The post always said “wanted dead or alive.” And the officers in charge meant every word. They didn’t care if the body was recovered dead or alive. The accused could make it light on himself.

Henry Star

The bounty could be the same either way or it could be more if the jumper was brought in alive. This source of employment became a very lucrative business for those who were cunning enough to hunt down the bad guys. It took time and patience. It also took the ability to stay one or two steps ahead of other hunters looking for the same outlaw.

The mentality of anything goes was the only rule of the day. Hunters killed each other to collect the bounty. Hunters would hurt people they felt knew where the quarry was. Bounty Hunting as it was known was not considered a reputable profession. They were hated with a passion and even considered a necessary evil. Hunters were considered professional gun slingers who would drop a bullet on anyone who got in their way. The bounty was the prize.

Billy the Kid

In the early years of the 20th century hunting continued and the reputation always preceded the hunter. It became a job which was hated by those who professed to be in reputable employment. The only rule was there were no rules. The hunters could go anywhere; do anything to bring in their man.

This attitude caused many unnecessary deaths related to the hunt and pick up of the jumper. It also created property damage and extreme ill feelings toward those who were the hunters.

Due to these deaths and the attitude of the hunters states began to set laws to restrict the authority of the hunters. They were required to be licensed and considered professionals in the field. They were no longer considered Hunters the new term became Bail Enforcement Officers. They were the arm behind the bail bond agent.

The next blog will talk about the different laws in the different states in regard to hunting. I will be starting with the state of Georgia.

* * *

Crime Report of the Day

(Taken from actual police reports)

A concerned neighbor called police Sunday about an open front door to a South Walnut Street residence. When police arrived they closed the door.

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