Considering that reality TELEVISION has found its way into American houses, programs such as "Pet dog the Bounty Seeker," and National Geographic’s "Bounty Hunter," have actually filled living rooms with with tough-as-nails characters, vibrant stories, and scenes of breaking down doors and taking on fugitives. Pet the Bounty Seeker has actually become a family name. However while these programs produce good entertainment, they barely reveal whatever life is like for genuine bondsman. While bail bondsmen seize bail skippers each day, conflicts as dramatic as those revealed on TV are few and far in between. Still, seizing unpredictable fugitives must be a dangerous job, and bail bondsmen have to take correct safety measures.
When a defendant is arrested and is unable to afford the bail amount set by the judge, he usually gives a bail bondsman a call. After collateral is agreed upon and the paperwork is signed, the bail bondsman provides the bail money and the defendant goes free. The bondsman then ensures that the defendant shows up in court. Most of the time, everything goes as planned; however, there are also times when the defendant skips out on bail hearings, and the bail bondsman must apprehend the "skip" and take him back to jail. Though these confrontations usually aren’t violent, some bail bondsmen carry guns as an extra precaution.
A common question asked of experienced bail bondsmen is whether becoming a bondsman guarantees you get to carry a gun. What many people don’t realize is that bail bondsmen are subject to the same rules and regulations as regular citizens. They are not allowed carry guns unless they have a proper license issued by the state in which they live. Bail Bondsmen are required to take courses specific to the firearms they will carry, and the courses must be administered by organizations approved by the Criminal Investigations and Technical Services Division.
The guidelines and laws regarding weapons vary from state to state. For this reason, it is essential for anybody wanting to become a bondsman to be knowledgeable about the policies certain to the state in which they lives, including rules relating to brandishing and releasing guns in public. Though bondsman are allowed to hold weapons and are permitted to capture suspects, they still have to comply with the same guns statutes that routine citizens are anticipated to follow.
In addition to going through certification and training in order to carry a gun, bail bondsmen must pass criminal background checks. If they have prior convictions, they are not allowed to carry guns. Recently, a bail bondsman in Maryland was arrested for having a.38 caliber revolver in his possession. Because of a prior theft conviction, he was prohibited from carrying a handgun.
A bondsman must recognize not just the laws regarding weapons, but with laws concerning arrest and detention of suspects as well. If a bail bondsman utilizes unnecessary, excessive force when nabbing a defendant, or arrests the wrong individual, he faces prospective claims and even criminal charges. Though the circumstances are couple of, there are times when bail bondsmen encounter harmful "skips" who do not wish to be apprehended. In such scenarios, when a bail bondman’s life is on the line, the question emerges: When is it fine for a bail bondsman to fire a weapon in defense?
In 2008, a Washington man who skipped bail on several outstanding criminal charges was confronted by four bonds agents. The suspect backed his car into one of the agents and the agent, fearing for his life, fatally shot the man. In a separate incident in 2012, it was two California bail bondsmen on the receiving end of the fatal shot, killed while trying to apprehend a defendant who had skipped bail on a drug possession charge. Bail bondsmen have to be prepared for anything. They know that backup is essential, as even one violent incident with a skip can be one too many.
David Viele, a 10-year bail bonds veteran, says that although he carries a gun, he’s never had to use it, because in most cases, the suspect surrenders. So while the jobs of real bail bondsmen aren’t the drama played out on reality TV, a bail bondsman’s job can be dangerous and unpredictable. This is why some choose to carry guns. However, bail bondsmen know they are subject to the same gun laws as regular citizens. For this reason, they are required to go through firearms training prior to becoming a bail bondsman, and they are held accountable for the way they use their guns.