Yvonne Mason: Bounty Hunting in Hawaii

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.

15 replies
  1. Yvonne
    Yvonne says:

    Bobby I don’t know how much longer it is going to take Hawaii to make a law that prevents felons from hunting. It is sort of like an Oxy Moran.

    James- Thank you for you comment to this article. I hate you have a record- there are not enough people out there who understand the need for people to have a clean background in order to keep the peace and hunt those who don’t. I am go honored that both of you enjoyed the piece. It is my passion

  2. James W.
    James W. says:

    Thank You for this helpful Articile on Bounty Hunting. Bounty Hunting Has peeked my intrest for many years as so has Law Enfocement. I’m a convicted felon Whos life Changed after my convition back in 2004, I know I’m not a Violent felon and since my convition I turned my life around. I have been a law abiding prodictive person in my comunity. I agree with the laws the other 48 states have to bar people with a felony from being bounty hunters beacuse it should only be people who have never recived a record of criminal activity the right to hunt the offenders of the laws we all respect and count on to protect us from Danger. Thank you once agian James W.

  3. Bobby
    Bobby says:

    I am so glad you did this blog, me being a police officer in Texas watching the show Dog the Bounty Hunter upsets me,not to mention gives the public the wrong idea about the law. I went school to get the license to do my job, I couldn’t have any felonies on my record let alone the fact that he’s a murderer regaurdless of the pardon he still took that life.So why should he be able to get a license, kick a door in or make arrests like a real police officer? Even we as police have rules on entering someones house, to me when I see that show I watch to see how many laws Dog breaks and every show there’s at least two. My quwestion to you Yvonne is how much longer before the bill goes through to regulate the Bounty Hunters in Hawaii? Also keep up the great work…..

  4. Yvonne
    Yvonne says:

    That is one of the many reasons I don’t watch the show. It has given all of us as hunters a bad name. I know it is staged however, that being said, it still makes us look very bad. A Hunter doesn’t have to kick in doors or anything else. By the time we get to them they are pretty well resigned to the fact they are going back to jail.
    It is all in the attitude.

  5. Pete
    Pete says:

    Yyonne–Great job on your expose. I think that Chapman & Family violate so many civil and criminal laws that a Hawaii lawyer could earn a great living just by suing the Chapmans for all the plaintiffs whose persoanl and property rights are routinely violated. They trespass, destroy property, threaten innocent people with “aiding and abetting” and arrest, etc. They have even assaulted innocent people who have nothing to do with the fugitive they are seeking. I remember one episode at a Colorado motel where the hotel owner lawfully demanded the Chapmans get off his property and then the son, Leland beat the poort guy up. They should have has them all arrested for trespass and Leland fore assault and then sued their pants off (in Beth’s case a sizeable pair of pants) for civil assault and trespass. The show is sooooooo stupid I find it entertaining!

  6. Yvonne Sewell
    Yvonne Sewell says:

    Lee and SZ,
    I am blushing. And this is really one of the few times I am without words. I am very humbled and grateful to be able to contribute to such a fine site. I am very honored that the readers are able to glean information to help them in their quest. I call it paying it froward.
    All of you make my week thank you so very much.
    Humbly yours
    PS Working on NJ as we speak

  7. SZ
    SZ says:

    Lee ! Please oh please keep em coming !

    I am sure everyone loves these too Yvonne. I think it was Elena that pointed out how thorough you are on these.

    Hey, when you have done all 50 states, you will have the a chunk of your own “guide for writers”. I have Lees book. It is written very well. Not straight dry information. The personal experiences he and you write of is what helps you understand and get a feel for it while learning.

  8. Yvonne Sewell
    Yvonne Sewell says:

    Just for you I will do New Jersey next. I am so honored that you love this series. Then behind this I will do California and then New York. I will keep them coming as long as Lee will let me. lol

  9. SZ
    SZ says:

    I just love this blog ! When are you going to do California ? And New York ? New Jersey especially for those of us following the Plum series.

    I need to start researching again. Do you google certain words or use specific sites to get the info for state to state ?

    Keep those blogs coming !

  10. Yvonne Sewell
    Yvonne Sewell says:

    My apologies, I misread- I don’t know if he was given a full pardon or not. I have not kept up with him much either. But it might be something to check.

  11. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Yvonne – I’m pretty much aware of the laws regarding pardons and sentence commutations. I was asking if Chapman was given a full pardon, and did he have his rights restored? I’ve not kept up with Dog’s career.

    Here’s the Florida statute in brief:

    Florida Pardon: A Pardon is a constitutionally authorized process that provides the means through which convicted felons may seek restoration of their civil rights and may be considered for relief from punishment. The restoration of voting rights and other civil rights, pardons, commutation of sentence, relief from fines and forfeitures, and restoration of firearm authority will be granted.

    In Florida, requests for a pardon may only be filed under the following circumstances:

    10 years following completion of sentence.

    A waiver (for the required 10 year waiting period) is available for non violent offenders after 5 years of being free of criminal activity.

  12. Yvonne Sewell
    Yvonne Sewell says:

    Duane in some states even if he is pardoned, his rights to carry are not restored. Florida is one of those states which have just now changed that- however they have to apply.
    Elana, Thank you for that insite. As you can see Bounty Hunting is very skewed and in a big need of overhaul. Sad but true. I am so glad that you are loving this blog- it is fun to do and I hope educational.

  13. Elena
    Elena says:

    Hi Yvonne – another great visit to the bonding world. Thank you.

    I am so glad you brought up the law of agency. Real estate agents, for example, are legally ‘agents’ of the broker who employs them. Not the people who use their services. It’s always useful to know “who’s on first”.

    Just a little thing – it’s at least 48 states, not 49. Wisconsin does not allow bonding companies, so there is no legal recognition of the existence of bounty hunters.

    I have found that a few PI’s include bail enforcement on the laundry list of what services they offer, but they are only bound by the very minimal requirements to become a PI, and the much longer list of what constitutes legal-ethical behavior.

  14. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Yvonne – I’m curious about the statement you made about Duane not being able to carry a gun, or even have one in his home. Has he received a full pardon? If so, were his rights to own and carry a gun restored when the pardon was granted. Or, was his pardon conditional?

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