2021 Tennessee Code
Title 40 - Criminal Procedure
Chapter 11 - Bail
Part 3 - Professional Bondsmen
§ 40-11-318. Bounty Hunting

Universal Citation: TN Code § 40-11-318 (2021)
  1. “Bounty hunting” means a person who acts as an agent of a professional bondsman who attempts to or takes into custody a person who has failed to appear in court and whose bond has been forfeited, for a fee, the payment of which is contingent upon the taking of a person into custody and returning the person to the custody of the professional bondsman for whom the bounty hunter works; provided, that “bounty hunting” does not include the taking into custody of a person by a professional bondsman.

  2. No person who has been convicted of a felony shall serve as a bounty hunter in this state. Persons having been convicted of a felony who perform the services of a bounty hunter as defined in this section commit a criminal offense, punishable as a Class A misdemeanor.

  3. Before a bounty hunter takes into custody any person who has failed to appear in court, the bounty hunter shall comply with § 40-11-401, make a good faith effort to verify the person's address, and present to the office of the appropriate law enforcement officer of the political subdivision where the taking will occur:

    1. A certified copy of the underlying criminal process against the defendant;

    2. A certified copy of the bond or capias;

    3. Proper credentials from a professional bondsman in Tennessee verifying that the bounty hunter is an agent of a professional bondsman; and

    4. A pocket card, with identifying photo, certifying that the bounty hunter has completed the training required by § 40-11-401.

  4. Failure to present all of the proper credentials as specified in this section to the office of the appropriate law enforcement officer prior to taking any person into custody shall be punishable as a Class A misdemeanor.

  5. A professional bondsman, who knowingly employs a convicted felon to act as an agent of the bondsman for purposes of taking into custody a person who failed to appear in court, commits a Class A misdemeanor.

  6. Any resident of this state who is a United States citizen and who intends to perform the functions of a bounty hunter as defined in subsection (a), shall submit to a criminal history background check as provided by § 38-6-109 at the sheriff's office at the county of the person's permanent residence. The person requesting the criminal history background check shall be responsible for any fees associated with the background check. The criminal background check shall include fingerprint checks against state and federal criminal records maintained by the Tennessee bureau of investigation (TBI) and the federal bureau of investigation (FBI). The sheriff's office shall maintain files in their respective counties on bounty hunters requesting a criminal history background check. A sheriff may charge a fee of not more than two hundred dollars ($200) for each background check performed pursuant to this subsection (f) and in addition to the background check fees payable to the TBI, the FBI and any designated vendor.

  7. No bounty hunter shall wear, carry, or display any uniform, badge, shield, card, or other item with any printing, insignia, or emblem that purports to indicate or copies or resembles an item that indicates that such bounty hunter is an employee, officer, or agent of any local, state, or federal government or any political subdivision of any local, state, or federal government. Any time a bounty hunter is engaged in the functions of bounty hunting, the bounty hunter shall wear clothing that clearly identifies the person as a bounty hunter and prominently displays the words “bounty hunter”.

  8. Nothing in this section gives a bounty hunter legal defense or privilege to violate any traffic laws or criminal statutes.
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