Imagine that you are a criminal defendant in North Carolina. You’ve managed to find a bail bondsman willing to trust you, and by paying 15 percent of the court-ordered bail you have secured your freedom.
Even if you are innocent of the charges you face, you naturally are tempted to get on a bus, heading… well, anywhere out of state, actually. You don’t really trust the criminal justice system to get the right answer. You recognize that life as a fugitive might not be much fun, but you think it has to be better than being unjustly convicted and maybe imprisoned.
Wow, it’s amazing how wrong—how dangerously wrong—that line of thinking is. First of all, you’re giving too little credit to your North Carolina criminal defense lawyers. Your legal team can expose the weaknesses of the prosecution’s case, minimizing the risk that you will be convicted of a crime you did not commit. You can also expect skillful attorneys to negotiate with the prosecutor to get you the best available plea bargain. Most of the time, the justice system gets the right answer.
But where you go wildly wrong is by underestimating the trouble you will face by violating your deal with the bail bondsman.
Your civil rights under a bail bond
In order to get out of jail, you signed a contract with the bail bondsman. That contract specifies the rules that will apply between you and the bondsman if you leave the area without permission or miss a scheduled court date. Not only does the bondsman get to keep any collateral you pledged to secure the deal, the bondsman also is allowed to hire bounty hunters to return you to the court’s jurisdiction. After all, if you don’t return, the bondsman will have to pay the court 100 percent of your bail amount, so he definitely has a financial incentive to return you to custody.
In North Carolina, bounty hunters—sometimes called “bail enforcement agents”—are licensed professionals who are exclusively employed by a single bail bondsman. They are usually paid 10 to 20 percent of the fugitive’s bail bond fee for each person returned to custody—and they claim a success rate of about 90 percent.
In 1873, the U.S. Supreme Court considered a case, Taylor v. Taintor, that defined the limits of what a bail bond holder or his agent could do to recover an escaped prisoner. That case remains a precedent today, and it allows the bounty hunter great freedom to use trickery or physical force to capture a fugitive. Additionally, the criminal defendant will have signed a bail bond contract that waives most of his civil and constitutional rights. He can be arrested by the bondsman or his hired agent and taken back to North Carolina without consideration of kidnapping laws, state extradition rules, or Fourth Amendment protections. The bounty hunter doesn’t need a warrant and doesn’t need to honor his Miranda rights.
If you are a fugitive pursued by a bounty hunter, you almost certainly will be caught. After that:
- You will be brought back to North Carolina and turned over to the police.
- You will face additional criminal charges for skipping bail.
- Your bail for the original charge will be revoked. You can ask for bail again, but it’s unlikely that it will be granted—and if it is, the amount will be much, much higher.
- If the court offers a bail amount, you will have a very hard time finding a bail bondsman willing to trust you.
Are you in a difficult position? Speaks Law Firm may be able to help
At Speaks Law Firm, our criminal defense lawyers in Wilmington have extensive experience helping clients whose bail errors have complicated their North Carolina felony or misdemeanor cases. We can be reached toll-free at 877-593-4233.
- Call us if you have panicked and skipped out on bail.
- Call us when you need someone to help you negotiate conditions for turning yourself in.
- Call us when you know the bounty hunters are closing in.
- Call us if you need legal representation for any criminal case in the Wilmington area. We represent defendants in federal court as well as North Carolina criminal courts in New Hanover County, Brunswick County, Columbus County, Pender County, and Robeson County.
Your time is running low. Call us today.