Some people may think that Oklahoma is the “wild, wild west” as far as our outlook on searching for, and apprehending, fugitives that have failed to appear in court is concerned.
“Bounty Hunters” as they are often called were, for the most part, unregulated until recently. For most of its history, Oklahoma has even allowed convicted felons to work as bounty hunters. Pretty surprising, considering that anyone who has a felony conviction knows how hard it is to find any job.
However, it looks as though that will no longer be the case with the passage of Oklahoma’s new Bail Enforcement Act. The Bail Enforcement Act has been passed in the wake of a recent shootout on October 28, 2014 in south Oklahoma City. Three of the men involved in the shoot-out were acting in the capacity of bail enforcement agents while attempting to apprehend Anthony Clark Bruce.
The fallout will surely bring the new “Oklahoma Bounty Hunter” laws to light.
The three bail enforcement agents are under investigation for bounty hunting illegally, due to allegations that they did not have the proper permits. SB1013. Bail Enforcement and Licensing Act; modifying provisions relating to licensing and regulation,requires that “On and after July 1, 2014, no person shall act or engage in, solicit or offer services, or represent himself or herself, as a bail enforcer as defined by the Bail Enforcement and Licensing Act without first having been issued a valid license by the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training (CLEET).” If convicted of falsely representing themselves as bail enforcers without the valid licenses, the three men could face up to $5,000.00 in fines or an additional term of imprisonment up to three (3) years, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
Along with passing CLEET certification, Licensed Bail Enforcers also must pass an advanced background check designed to insure that they do not have a former felony conviction or a conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude. There is also a psychological test that must be passed as well.
Other than working as a Licensed Bail Enforcer, there are only two other scenarios in which a person may apprehend and surrender fugitives from the law. First, according to Oklahoma Statutes Title 59 Chapter 33 Subsection 1311.4, a licensed bondsman in the state of Oklahoma may seek assistance from, or provide assistance to, another licensed bondsman in this state or another state for the purposes of apprehension and surrender of the defendant client whose undertaking or bail contract was written by the licensed bondsman or a bondsman appointed insurer doing business in Oklahoma; provided, the bondsman have a continuously valid license for five (5) or more years beginning the effective date of the act. The bondsman licensed in this state is required to maintain proof of the other bondsman’s valid license duration requirement prior to permitting such person to engage in any act (any bail enforcement activities) requiring a license in Oklahoma.
The only other option for bounty hunting in Oklahoma is available to an individual who is a sheriff, police officer, or officer of the law, not on duty, who assists in the apprehension of a defendant.
If you have any questions about bounty hunting or Posting Bond and the Oklahoma Bail Process, please call Frank DeLozier with Thunder Bail Bonds at 405.235.0002.