Tennessee – New Bounty Hunter Law

June 20, 2018


On July 1, 2018 the Tennessee bail industry will have some new laws to follow. Badge & Bail Magazine contacted Tyler Butler of Bust out Bail Bonds in Clarksville to learn about the new rules and regulations for the recovery side of bail bonding. Until now the bail recovery side of bonding was widely unregulated through legislation which has led to some concerns from law makers and law enforcement officials.

According to a public release by the Tennessee Association of Professional Bail Agents (TAPBA), “As you are no doubt aware, there were some unfortunate incidents that have received lots of attention in the media. As a result of those incidents, whether justified or not, there were several bills proposed this last year will have serious consequences for the industry”. The TAPBA jumped into action when they learned about the bills, 826 and 885, being introduced they started to contact legislators. Through a long process the TABA was able to secure some changes in the language of the bills that were beneficial to all parties and had to make a few concessions as well. The final bills passed and will now become law starting July 1.

Here is a look at some of the new laws.

Code 40-11-318 has some changes in the language that now specifically addresses certain activities and job title.

Tennessee legislators have given a formal title to people that conduct bail recoveries. Now that the title of “Bounty Hunter” has been determined, any use of other terms or phrases is a violation:

  • “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”.
  • Bounty Hunters must now carry an Id – Section 2 “A pocket card, with identifying photo, certifying that the bounty hunter has completed the training required by 40-11-401”.
  • Bounty Hunters are now required to follow outward appearance regulations – Section 4 “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.
  • Bounty Hunters are not exempt from following the laws – Section 5 “Nothing in this section gives a bounty hunter legal defense or privilege to violate any traffic laws or criminal statutes”.

Having an active and strong state association is extremely important to any industry or profession, but in today’s climate with the justice system under attack and the current bail reform movement, it is even more important. The TAPBA identified an issue that could have been disastrous and turned it into a positive for the State of Tennessee. With their input and guidance the lawmakers were able to better understand the nuances of the bail industry.

Each of the new laws will go into effect July 1, 2018 so industry professionals must be prepared to be in compliance prior to that date.

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