This new law, “An Act to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 40, Chapter 11, relative to bail,” probably did not come up in many cocktail party conversations before it became active on June 1, 2021. That’s probably because SB219 is an omnibus bill. Although it says it is “relative to bail,” such provisions usually contain a number of unrelated mandates. In fact, the original version of SB219 included some rules on paying for transdermal monitoring devices. We are not sure what, if anything, that issue has to do directly with bail bonds in Clarksville, TN but they certainly are an important part of some bail requirements.
Most of its provisions concern bounty hunter qualifications and activities in Tennessee. Currently, the qualifications and regulations are not quite as lenient as they are in Heimlich County, but they are not necessarily very strict either. Essentially, a bonding company is like an insurance company, and bounty hunters are like insurance adjusters. Bounty hunters prevent financial losses when things with a bail bond client go sideways. Thus, they can help lower overall bail costs.
SB219 popped up on our radar at Fizer Bonding Company because our Montgomery County bail bonds office keeps a close eye on local and national legal developments that affect both our company and clients. As mentioned, politicians can be known to cram all sorts of things into omnibus laws, in the hopes that they will easily pass. But if a law could possibly affect bail bond availability, we look into it. To us, there’s nothing more important than getting our bail bond clients out of jail quickly and cheaply so they can take full advantage of their day in court.
Bail Bonds and Bounty Hunters in Tennessee: A Primer
Before we talk about the role of bounty hunters, let’s briefly discuss the bail bonds process in Tennessee. Bail bonds are often the only alternative to pretrial release, which is only available in some cases, and cash bonds, which are usually too expensive for most people to afford.
As mentioned, Fizer Bonding Company (bail bond near me) is a lot like an insurance agency. The company writes policies that ensure that the defendant will appear at trial. Most companies charge about a 15 percent premium for this service. Other conditions usually apply to bail bonds as well.
The conditions which we often attach to bail bonds, like checking in with our office and remaining within the county, might seem like pointless restrictions. But, they are actually preventative measures which, in many cases, make bounty hunters unnecessary. Monthly check-ins are a good illustration. If we are able to keep regular check-ins with our clients, then we are there to quickly help resolve any issues that may arise with keeping check-in times and conditions. These limits apply to everyone.
In most situations, if you have an issue with a bail condition, we can usually resolve the dispute, as long as we know there is a problem and you let us know before it becomes a problem that jeopardizes your bail contact. For example, many of our clients live in one county and work in another one. So, an order requiring them to remain in Montgomery County obviously doesn’t work.
When we do have a need for bounty hunters, they usually do not carry rifles or pistols. They normally carry phones or computers.
Life happens, and sometimes we are unable to keep our obligations. We forget things like meeting times and court dates. Sometimes, a simple reminder phone call is enough to set things right.
If the defendant has actually “skipped bail” and left the jurisdiction, many bounty hunters run skip traces. With personal information in hand, bounty hunters can check credit reports, job applications, credit card activity, utility bill payments, and a myriad of other activities and often locate people without much of a problem. Then, since the defendant has violated a court order, the bounty hunter contacts local law enforcement, who usually arrest the defendant.
Revised Bounty Hunter Qualifications
Pretty much anyone can call themselves “bounty hunters” in Tennessee. The only real requirements, which SB219 altered, are a (relatively) clean criminal history and eight hours a year of continuing education accredited by the State of Tennessee.
Under the new law, if you have two or more misdemeanor convictions within the past five years, you cannot be a bounty hunter in the Volunteer State. Furthermore, at least five of the eight hours must be focused specifically on bail bond and bounty hunter issues. The other seven hours are usually general criminal law seminars.
State law imposes a few other requirements as well. For example, bounty hunters must make a good faith effort to validate addresses of bail-skippers and must also provide certified companies of certain documents to local law enforcement agencies if they are requested.
Being a professional bounty hunter, however, is a very different matter. Most bonding companies have very strict requirements in this area. At Fizer Bonding Company, our standards are even higher. We reject about 90 percent of the bounty hunter applications we review. On the rare occasions that we hire someone, we closely supervise the contract and show zero tolerance for any behavior that falls short of our standards.
More Regulations for Bounty Hunters
As mentioned, at Fizer, we have very high standards regarding bounty hunters. Unfortunately, some other bonding companies do not share this commitment. They might look the other way when a bounty hunter impersonates a law enforcement official, or implies that he/she has this authority. Sometimes, the company even encourages such behavior. SB 219 puts the brakes on practices like this.
We also mentioned the arrest procedure above. However, that’s not always the way it goes down. Especially for misdemeanors, many foreign law enforcement agencies do not make arrests in these cases. They do not want to spend the money or expose themselves to possible liability. Transporting a prisoner, especially transporting prisoners across state lines, is a risky proposition.
So, bounty hunters must occasionally detain wayward defendants. These confrontations are almost always completely non-violent. However, they are sometimes necessary, and the new law gives bounty hunters the power to detain suspects in these cases.
For more information about how Fizer Bonding Company (bail bond near me) can “Get your tail outta jail!” 24/7 in Montgomery and Robertson Counties Tennessee contact us today 24/7 at (615) 667-1109 for a FREE bail bond consultation. Our professional, courteous, and understanding bonding agents are ready to help you get out of jail fast and cheap!!! Fizer Bonding Company is a proud member of the Tennessee Association of Professional Bail Agents. For more info about Fizer Bonding Company bail bonds, click here.
“We’ll get your tail outta jail!”
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