How do bail agents operate in Florida?

Dog the Bounty Hunter appeared at Brian Laundrie’s parents’ house on Saturday.
Dog the Bounty Hunter appeared at Brian Laundrie’s parents’ house on Saturday.
Published: Sep. 26, 2021 at 2:40 PM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - The sight of TV reality show star Duane Lee Chapman, also known as Dog the Bounty Hunter, knocking on the door of Brian Laundrie’s parents is raising some eyebrows.

With the arrival of Chapman offering to assist in the search for Brian Laundrie, ABC7 decided to find out how -- and if -- bounty hunters are allowed to operate in Florida.

It’s not as simple as lacing up your shoes and following your nose. The State of Florida has a lot of rules for people who want to go after fugitives.

Calling yourself a bounty hunter is illegal in Florida. To become a licensed bail agent, you’ll need to meet a few requirements.

You’ll have to be an adult Florida resident, have at least a high school diploma and you cannot have been ever convicted of a felony, or any crime penalized by a year or more in jail.

If you meet those standards, it’s onto the tests.

First, you’d have to pass the bail bond licensing exam, Then, you’re able to take the bail bond agent exam and provide a few references who can vouch for your character.

Once licensed, bail agents are only allowed to pursue and arrest fugitives who have skipped bail provided by the company they work for.

While they don’t need to get a warrant like the police do, the agent will have to have documents relevant to that case when they apprehend someone, as well paperwork identifying themselves as a licensed agent.

According to the website of Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, who’s office regulates these things, out of state agents, like Chapman, have very limited powers in Florida. A bail bond agent may enter another state to locate a defendant who was released on a bail bond written by that bail bond agent. If the bail bond agent did not write the bail bond, then they are not authorized to make an arrest.

Conducting your own manhunts without the proper licenses is class-three felony.

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