Yvonne Mason: Bounty Hunting In Georgia

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.

18 replies
  1. Dawn Little
    Dawn Little says:

    My name is Dawn little and im trying to find out where i need to go to get my bail recoverys liscence,i already have my weapon permit.i live catersville ga.Can you help.

  2. sarge
    sarge says:

    “(This means licensees are permitted to carry in stores, malls, financial institutions, and other places open to the public)”,direct from the Georgia Law.

  3. sarge
    sarge says:

    Public Gatherings: It is against the law (misdemeanor offense) for a person (licensed or not) to carry to or while at a public gathering any explosive compound, firearm, or knife designed for the purpose of offense or defense (including ANY deadly weapon not listed here). A public gathering is defined and includes, but is not limited too, athletic or sporting events, churches or church functions, political rallies and/or functions, publicly owned or operated buildings(Fed, state, or local government buildings), and establishments at which alcoholic beverages are sold for consumption on the premises and it derives less than 50 percent of their total annual gross food and beverage sales from the sale of prepared meals or food (Basically bars but not restaurants with bars in them. Check their business license if you are not sure as the state license lists what is a restaurant that servers alcohol and what is a bar. Does not apply to stores that sell alcohol for consumption somewhere else, like liquor stores, gas stations, etc.). Nothing in this code section shall otherwise prohibit the carrying of a firearm in any other public place by a person licensed or permitted to do so. (This means licensees are permitted to carry in stores, malls, financial institutions, and other places open to the public) Five areas are specifically defined as public gatherings, but since the definition of a public gathering is not limited to the five areas, what else could be considered a public gathering? Attorney general Mike Bowers issued an opinion that addresses this very issue. In his definition a public gathering is “a place in which the public gathers or will gather for an particular event or function and does not apply to a place (such as a shopping mall, Walmart, grocery store, McDonalds; see State v. Burns), where people may gather even in large numbers when there is no event or function”. So basically a public gathering in addition to the 5 defined areas is an event or function that the general public gathers or will gather for. This may be a parade, music event, free contests, presentation speakers, or any other publicized event that the general public can gather for. Remember however if a public place that is not off limits by the definition of this code section CAN still be defined as a public gathering IF any of the activities defined above are taking place on the premises. i.e. a mall that is hosting a public speaker or a music concert or portions of the mall that hold religious services or portions leased to a government agency.

    Also keep in mind that this prohibition also applies to the grounds that are on or in close proximity of the “public gathering”. i.e. the parking lot of a bar, stadium, church, or the common area of the premises that is hosting a “public gathering”. It is an affirmative defense to violation of this code section if a person notifies any law enforcement officer or security guard employed to provide security for the public gathering, if you are in possession of a deadly weapon while at a public gathering as soon as you learn of it’s presence and you surrender or secure such weapon as directed by the law enforcement officer or security guard providing security for the public gathering. (This does not mean you can carry to a public gathering, this section means that if you are carrying to a public gathering and you realize that you accidentally brought your weapon, then you can come forward to a LEO or security guard and surrender your weapon without risking arrest. This code section is clearly criminal in nature and the burden is on the state to show intent to violate this code section) This law shall not apply to competitors participating in a sport shooting or gun event, law enforcement officers, district attorneys, judges, magistrates, solicitors, persons in the state or US military and more. Please see 16-11-130 for the full list. (16-11-127, Carroll co. probate court, AG opinion U96-22)

  4. Matthew
    Matthew says:

    I to live in Ga, and am very interested in working for and becomeing a Bounty Hunter. Any help or advice would be apreciated. How do I find the current laws and regulations on this?

  5. Yvonne
    Yvonne says:

    Daniel- Since I am not in Ga anymore I can’t help you there- but your best bet would be to contact the bonding companies in your area.

    Marc- Yes it is illegal to carry a fire arm in a bank or any other publice place if you are not law enforcement. – No my information is not out dated. It came with me degree in Criminial Justice

  6. Marc
    Marc says:

    It looks like the information in your original article may be a little dated or simply incorrect in respect to the firearm carry in GA. GA doesn’t have a CWP – it has a GFL (Georgia Firearms License) issued by the local Probate Court judge. Also, there is not law that prohibits the carry (concealed or open) of firearms in a bank (although many people believe that there is).

  7. Daniel
    Daniel says:

    Hello, I’m a 31 year old male, living in Cleveland, Georgia. I am not licensed as a bounty hunter. I am former U.S. Army. I would like to do my part in caputuring fugitives and taking them off the streets. Do you know of anyone who would be willing to take me on their team, train me and let me assist in fugitive recoveries? I look forward to hearing from you. Thank You.

  8. Yvonne
    Yvonne says:

    Becoming a hunter in Ga is getting harder and harder- the best thing would be to go on line and take the courses which are offered.

    You can become someone who works for a hunter without actually hunting, we always are needing someone to make the calls, to find that person via phone. That in itself is an art form. Picking someone up is the easy part, getting folks to let you know where they are is the challenging part. For that you don’t need a license, just a feel for people and getting them to talk to you.

  9. Yvonne Sewell
    Yvonne Sewell says:

    Funny you should mention accounting, My back ground is in credit and collections, which I was also very good at. In fact when one of the companies I workedfor was sold, we had zero bad debt because of the way my collections department was handled. I was the Manager of that dept.
    You are right, one has to make that call convincing. One has to gain the trust of the person on the other end and learn to hear what is not being said as well as what is being said. Sometimes what is not being said is more important than what is being said.
    And of course books and TV want to sell so yes they do take literary lisence with their work, I have done it a time or two my self. However, not so much that it would become unbelievable.
    And again you are right, it is much harder to eat a bullet in front of a friend. Most sucicides are committed alone especially by those in law enforcement.
    Training with a partner is also for safety. Anything can happen on a range. I was on a range one time and was shooting my back up piece which is a Kel Tec 380. It is a small semi automatic which only holds seven rounds. After the first seven round were finished I reloaded to shoot again. It jammed. The reason was it had to be cleaned after the first seven rounds had been fired. I forgot to clean it. It could have been a big mess. Howeve, I had my dad with me who knows guns inside and out. He reminded me of what I had failed to do.
    My Smith and Wesson had a mind of its own and one time at ranged, it also jammed. Again – I had someone with me. Good thing, we tore the gun down to see why it had jammed, there was around stuck in the barrel. It took both of us working to get it out.
    Again, it could have been a big problem.
    I am so glad you are denjoying the post. They bring back alot of fun memories for me. I am so glad that Lee has asked me to do them.
    Any questions you have please ask, I will gladly try to answer them.

  10. SZ
    SZ says:

    Hi Yvonne,

    You always mention back up which is great. Always thinking safety is key.

    When I was in accounting, I would “sell” people on paying me. On your post about the calls you make, you seem to have a general script to start with. That is great. It really worked for me. It would be cool to make those calls you make. Making that “sell” (getting invoices paid, getting the info you need on a jumper . . .) is indeed a rush of sorts.

    The laws that govern you are interesting. Books and television, of course, make it sound so outlaw cool. Once after a post on Lees site, I looked into a shooting range. I have only done skeet shooting and fired a gun on one occasion. They would not allow me a lesson without a partner. Like your laws for firearms above, the thinking is that you are less likely to commit suicide in front of a friend. Makes sense.

    Looking forward to Mondays post !

  11. Yvonne Sewell
    Yvonne Sewell says:

    Thank you for your comment- It means so much to me to know that folks really are reading about my passion. Just by your saying you enjoy it says more than you know.
    Thank you again. Continue to watch there is more to come.

  12. Yvonne Sewell
    Yvonne Sewell says:

    I am glad you enjoy reading this. I have read Janet Evanovich she is fun. The badges that Dog Wears may be legel in the state they are in. Most wear badges which say “Bail Enforcement” or “Bail Recovery Agent” We have to wear something in order to identify ourself. Hunting was not my full time job- I also worked in a small loan office. Sort of the same thing lol
    The hours depended on the case we were working at the time. Since I worked cold cases the hours were a bit longer. Sometimes it could take anywhere from 10 hours to 100 hours. Just depending on how much people were willing to talk to us and how much I had to dig.
    The lisence were renewed yearly.
    The two other guys I worked with were self employed in other endevours as well. Hunting is only a full time job if the cases keep coming.
    Hunting is different. Fun comes into play but it can also be a very dangerous job as with any job when one is dealing with the criminal element. The fun is in the hunt itself. Picking up the criminal is anti- climatic. But it is dangerous one never knows what will happen when one goes to pick them up. What kind of weapon they might have who might be with them etc. A hunter should never go to a pick up alone. They should always have back up.

  13. SZ
    SZ says:

    Oh so late to the party ! I love reading this. I have to admit, the series Janet Evanovich makes it sound fun. It is interesting to read the real thing. And the Dog show has them wearing badges. They say bounty hunter. Do you do this too ?

    If you still check back, I am curious, is this your full time job ? What about the two others you work with ? How many hours a week would you say are strictly related to hunting ?

    Do you renew your licence each year after the yearly class ? Great info !

  14. Yvonne Sewell
    Yvonne Sewell says:

    There were two ways we could go. One we could work directly for the bonding company. If we did that we could only work for one bonding company at a time. We could freelance. If we freelanced we could contract out to as many bonding companies as we wanted to.
    Yes, my skills as a hunter allow me to do more than just hunt. I could do private security, bodyguarding, Private Detective anything along those Lines. In fact since I don’t hunt here in Florida, I do get calls for find people for others. I like it because it keeps m skills honed.
    Being a former PO you have heard it all. Even some that hasn’t been thought up yet.
    As you can see as hunters we are regulated. In fact there are states I can not carry my weapon. As I get into the other states I will expound on that –
    Lee tells me all of you are enjoying this blog. I appreicate it more than you know. It is my first love and a passion that is hard to explain
    Thanks so much for allowing me to talk about it.

  15. Elena
    Elena says:

    His answer makes perfect sense to me, but then I was a City of Atlanta probation officer for a while 🙂

    The use of the word “agent” in the title makes me wonder – it implies to me that the hunter is legally an agent of the bailbondsman, which the ordinances you quote would support. Did you always work for the same bailbondsman, or were y’all contract employees, or some other arangement?

    And, is there any sort of moonlighting that your skills as a hunter would work for? Such as cops doing private security jobs.

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