Bounty Hunters Follow Strict State Guidelines

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Nationwide, almost anyone can become a bounty hunter but here in Nevada, bounty hunters must be licensed by the state.

There are only twelve licensed hunters in the Silver State and those twelve men and women keep a very low profile.

I wanted to find out just how bounty hunting works here in Nevada and went to speak a long-time local bail-bond agent, Mike Jack.

The twelve licensed bounty hunters in Nevada are regulated by the Nevada State Division of Insurance. They must take 80 hours criminal justice training, in addition to gun and medical classes. They also have to undergo extensive background checks.

Mike Jack, of Mac's Bail Bonds, has been in the bail bond business for nearly 40 years and he spent more than half of those years working as a bounty hunter. He says people have the wrong perception about his industry.

"The primary court decision that they base their actions on is the United States Supreme Court decision from the 1870's that allows the shirting, the bondsman, to go himself or appoint somebody to go cross state lines to break the sabbath and to arrest folks at will wherever they may be," Jack said.

Here's how it works.

A friend or relative comes into the bail bond shop and pays 10% of the bond and a $40 court fee. That person then cosigns that the person they are bailing out will make all necessary court appearances.

If the person flees, then the bail bond shop receives a letter that says they have 180 days to produce either the money or the person.

"Nationwide in the bail industry is we return over 80% of our skips. My rate here at Mac's, we return 90% of our skips. We have that rule that everybody comes home and home is right across the street," said Jack.

Bounty hunters do most of their work by computer before they hit the streets.. When they do hit the streets, they carry more than $50,000 worth of non-lethal equipment - including a taser, leg irons and handcuffs.

They do carry guns but by law, if they are going to make a forceable entry, they must first notify police.

"The normal bounty rate has gone up. I pay my hunters anywhere from 15-25% of the face amount of the bond," Jack said. "So if Little Johnny's got a $1,000 bond then I'm going to pay him $250 to bring him back."

Each Nevada bounty hunter has an active case load of between 40 - 50 people. And it's interesting to note that the two hunters who work for Mike Jack haven't had to use a gun during a capture in nearly five years.