The short answer is yes, however in Florida, you cannot legally refer to them as bounty hunters. The state does not allow the term ‘bounty hunter’ to be used nor does it allow freelance fugitive recovery agents like some other states do to specifically hunt bail jumpers.
In Florida, bounty hunters are licensed bail bondsmen. Bail bondsmen have the authority to recover a defendant who has missed their court date or skips bail.
Who Enforces Bail Bonds in Florida?
Just because Florida doesn’t allow bounty hunting that doesn’t mean that someone can skip bail without consequences. If you missed your court date, you will be apprehended and returned to custody by the bail agent who arranged your release from jail. They are authorized by the state to pursue and apprehend defendants who the bail bondsman issued a surety bond for.
What Will The Bond Company Do If I Skip Bail?
Your bail was paid by the bail bondsman on the condition that you’d be in court for your scheduled court appearance(s). If you fail to appear, the bail agent is notified by the courts that your bail bond is now in default.
The courts allow a limited time for your return before an arrest warrant is issued. During that time, the bail bond company you worked with will start the process to find the defendant. When they are found, the person is returned back to the local jail where they will be booked.
Can My Bail Bond Agent Hire a Bounty Hunter?
In the state of Florida, marketing yourself or operating as a freelance bounty hunter is illegal. Using the terms ‘bounty hunter’, ‘bail enforcement agent’ or a similar title is not allowed.
Instead, bail bond agents are authorized to track down defendants who missed court or violated the terms of their release. They may also assign another licensed bail agent in the state of Florida to locate the defendant. This agent can legally take the defendant into custody as long as they are named on the original surety bond.
What Can I Do If I Missed My Court Date But I’m Not Skipping Bail?
If you’ve missed your court date, it is always in your best interest to contact your bail bondsman directly before a failure to appear arrest warrant (FTA) is issued.
In the time your bail bondsman is notified by the courts of your failure to appear, they usually are limited on time to help you. The sooner you contact your bail bond agent, the better their chances are of negotiating your return with the possibility of avoiding incarceration.
Return of A Criminal Defendant in Florida
Just because the state of Florida does not allow for professional bounty hunters, don’t assume that bail jumpers are not located by their bail bond agent and returned to law enforcement custody. It is always in the defendant’s best interest to attend all court dates and maintain communication with the posting bail agent. This allows for the best chance of negotiating a new court date without serving jail time for failure to appear.
As a condition of release from jail, the surety bond is an agreement with the bail bondsman and the defendant so they will show up for all of their court dates and comply with all conditions set by the judge.