Category Archives: Fugitive

Defendants who are being sought by a court of law.

It’s All Fun and Games…

Jeff Downer  It’s all fun and games until the local wildlife shows up.  Another lesson in how truth is stranger than fiction

It seems a Virginia bail agent located a bond jumper in a parking lot resulting in the fugitive ramming the agent’s car and running into a nearby woods.  The agent followed whereupon the fugitive beat the tar out of him with a stick.

A police K-9 unit  arrived next on the scene and was promptly …wait…not yet…wait…here it comes…bitten by a rabid groundhog!  Bettcha didn’t see that one coming.

After having its handler shoot the demented rodent the undeterred K-9 unit relentlessly pursued its prey out onto Interstate 95 where the the fugitive was hit by a car.  Miraculously the fugitive survived playing on the freeway and was eventually booked into the local jail.

I don’t know about you, but my thinking here is that the only winner here was the dog and that’s only if his shots were up to date.  In any case I think there is a movie in this story.  Perhaps a tear jerker family film about tragedy striking gentle woodland creatures.  Call it something like Groundbi.  Maybe a horror flick would be better.  They could call that one: Groundhog Apocalypse:  They Can See Your Shadow!.

Via: WUSA9

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Posted in Bail, Bondsman, Fugitive, Law Enforcement, Smiles. Tagged with , .

Airport Arrest on Warrant Issued in 1979

Jeff Downer  The Cook County Sheriff’s Department arrested fugitive Ata Yousef El Ammouri at O’Hare International Airport recently on a warrant charging him with murder.

Ammouri was originally arrested and charged in 1979 for the slaying of Joe Harris after Harris allegedly stole a can of Miller Lite from Ammouri’s neighborhood store.  After posting a $100,000 bail bond, Ammouri then fled the the country resulting the court issuing a failure to appear warrant.

Flash forward 34 years to the present when Ammouri, traveling from Jordan to Tennessee to attend a graduation ceremony, is arrested while changing planes in Chicago by Cook County Sheriff’s Deputies  It was no coincidence they were there when he got off the plane.  They knew he was coming.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart credited local and federal cooperation in sharing knowledge and making the apprehension possible.  The federal agencies who had been working with the Sheriff”s personnel included the State Department and Homeland Security.

This story resonated with me because I so often encounter questions about traveling with outstanding warrants.  In a post 9/11 world full databases and lists designed to raise red flags of course there is a very real chance of being arrested on a warrant.   Even if the fugitive has been half a world away and 34 years distant.

There is one more thing.  This time Ammouri was held without bond.

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Posted in Bail Bonds, Fugitive, International, Law Enforcement, Warrant. Tagged with , .

Interstate Extradition Bonds

Jeff Downer  When an arrest warrant is issued there are instances when the defendant is arrested on the warrant while in another state.  The process of transferring the defendant to the state which issued the warrant is called extradition.

The extradition procedure is governed by the Uniform Extradition Act (UEC) and is recognized by all 50 states.  The defendant may waive going through the procedure or as part of due process the defendant may also challenge being extradited.   If the extradition is challenged the court will set a hearing to hear arguments as to why the defendant should not be extradited.  The setting of the hearing date must allow the defendant time to adequately prepare.

Per the UEC, while awaiting any hearing or extradition surrender date the defendant must be permitted to post bail:

Unless the offense with which the prisoner is charged is shown to be an offense punishable by death or life imprisonment under the laws of the state in which it was committed, the judge must admit the person arrested to bail by bond or undertaking, with sufficient sureties, and in such sum as he deems proper, for his appearance before him at a time specified in such bond or undertaking, and for his surrender, to be arrested upon the warrant of the governor of this state.

Note that an extradition bond is meant only to insure appearances during the extradition process.  Once a defendant is extradited, another bail bond may be required for release while awaiting trial for the underlying case.

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Posted in Bail, Fugitive, National, Warrant. Tagged with , , .

Can Bail Be Posted on Out of County Holds?

Jeff Downer  There are instances when when someone is arrested in one county on a warrant issued by another county.  After such arrests the defendant is transported to the local jail to await transfer to the jurisdiction which issued the warrant.  This scenario is described as being held on an out of county hold.

One of the first questions always asked is whether a bail bond can be posted immediately or must the defendant be transferred before bail may be made.  The answer is the defendant must be transferred to the county from which the warrant is issued before any bail bond may be posted.

That is not to say that occasionally a county may decline to come fetch the defendant or the underlying reason for the warrant cannot be addressed resulting in the release of the defendant prior to any transfer.  An example of this circumstance could be the defendant has unpaid financial obligations to the court such as fines and costs.  It may be possible in this situation to pay the fines and costs and have the warrant recalled.

The bottom line is that when a person is arrested on an out of county hold, be prepared to for a wait of several days before the defendant will be eligible to be released on bail.

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Posted in Bail, Bail Bonds, Fugitive, Jail. Tagged with , .

Do Failure to Appear Warrants Expire?

Jeff Downer  A question often arises as to whether warrants issued for failure to appear in court will expire after a certain period of time.  The answer is no.

A wishful thinking defendant may hope that by failing to appear and remaining in a fugitive status for a long enough period of time will create some type of statute of limitations scenario where their case will magically disappear, and they will become immune from further prosecution on the matter.

Indiana failure to appear law is quite clear on this subject.  Any warrant issued for failing to appear in court (whether the case be a misdemeanor or a felony) does not come with an expiration date.  The warrant will remain in effect until the defendant is returned to face the court.

IC 35-33-2-4 Expiration; reissuance      Sec. 4. A warrant of arrest for a misdemeanor expires one hundred eighty (180) days after it is issued. A warrant of arrest for a felony and a rearrest warrant for any offense do not expire. A sheriff who has an expired warrant shall make a return on the warrant stating that it has expired and shall return it to the clerk of the court that issued it. The clerk shall enter the fact that the warrant has expired in his records and shall notify the prosecuting attorney of the county that the warrant has expired. Upon request of the prosecuting attorney, the court shall issue another warrant.

Failing to appear on a criminal case may buy some time on the run living as a fugitive, but it will not purchase a resolution to the case.

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Posted in Bail, Fugitive, Law. Tagged with , , .

Is Failure to Appear a Crime?

Jeff Downer  Is a defendant’s failure to appear on a criminal case considered a separate criminal offense in it’s own right?  In most states and jurisdictions the answer is yes.

What this means is that not only will a failure to appear warrant be issued for current case, an entirely new criminal charge of failure to appear can be pursued against the defendant.  Commonly, the seriousness of the new failure to appear charge will depend upon the charge levels in the originating case.

In Indiana, this is how the failure to appear charge levels are determined:

  •  If the the original case consisted of misdemeanor charges then the failure to appear would be charged  as a Class A misdemeanor.
  • If the the original charges were felonies then the new failure to appear charge would be pursued as a Class D felony.

The key takeaway here is that failing to appear not only risks incurring the ill will of the court but also running the risk facing even more criminal charges.

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Posted in Bail, Fugitive, Law. Tagged with , , .

Posting a Bail Bond After a Failure to Appear

Jeff Downer  Defendants who fail to appear (FTA) and become fugitives are a fact of life.  Since the insuring a defendant’s risk of failing to appear is the basis of the commercial bail industry, posting the bail of someone who has chosen to become a fugitive and subsequently been returned to court can be problematic.

While considering the effects of bonding someone out of custody after a FTA, think of a car insurance.  A car insurer assumes financial responsibility for damages caused in automobile accidents.  The occurrence of car accidents is going to change the dynamics of the relationship between the car owner and the insurance company.  Things are going to be different after an accident and may include:

  • The cost of insurance can increase.
  • The deductible may become larger
  • The policy can be cancelled.

In bail bonding a FTA, like a car accident, is going to change the dynamics of the bail bondsman and defendant relationship:

  • More premium may be required for a new and larger court ordered bond amount.
  • Cash collateral may now be expected.
  • Additional co-signers could be necessary.
  • Real property could be required to secure the bail bond with a mortgage.
  • Conditions such as check ins and electronic monitoring may be put in place.
  • The bonding company may decline to post any further bail for the defendant.

Keep in mind the court is going to have final say in the matter and is under no obligation to let the defendant out on bond again.  If the judge permits another bail bond, amounts can be increased and the court may impose additional conditions of its own.

All the above is not to say on occasions such as being hit by a bus on the way to court can’t result in the judge and the bonding company agreeing to adhere to the original bond and conditions, but it is important to remember that will take place at their option and not the defendant’s.

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Posted in Bail, Business, Fugitive. Tagged with , .

Using Someone Else’s Name When Arrested

Jeff Downer  There are those who believe there is some benefit to using someone else’s name or an alias when being arrested. The fact is that any benefit is short lived at best and creates even more long term problems in this age of extensive integrated automated fingerprint identification (IAFIS) database networks and post 9/11 diligence.

How?  The most important thing to bear in mind is that within the criminal justice system, people are literally numbers, not names.  These numbers are associated with fingerprints, pictures and other unique physical identifiers of the person actually arrested and become part of nationwide computer databases.  Whatever alias name or names that are used simply become notations attached to those identifying numbers.

Using multiple names is no different than changing one’s hairstyle or getting a new tattoo.  Besides, having more than one legitimate name is hardly unusual within the criminal justice system, consider those folks who have maiden and married names.  Their identification number still doesn’t change when they marry.

Then there are the long term problems that arise with using different folk’s identities.  Now the system can earmark that person as deceptive and, as such, untrustworthy.   This earmark can have negative repercussions when setting bail and determination of a sentence.  This stigma can remain beyond the initial instance of using an alias.  Also there are the hassles which must be sorted out for any friend or family member whose name may have been used (usually by obtaining a certified document they not the individual associated with that case).

The fact is you cannot escape yourself by using an alias.

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Posted in Bail, Fugitive, Law Enforcement. Tagged with , .

Heartthrob Arrested for Missed Court Date

Jeff Downer

Rick Springfield Arrested for Missed Court Date

-Rolling Stone

There is no truth to the rumor that Mr. Springfield was apprehended in a shopping mall after being cornered by a mob of screaming and fainting women of a certain age.

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Posted in Bail, Fugitive, Smiles.

How to Become a Bounty Hunter (First Hint: The Correct Term is Recovery Agent)

Jeff Downer  There seems to be a great deal of interest from people about becoming a bounty hunter.  It is not as simple a process as some may believe and the nature of the job is often misunderstood.  What follows is a description of the process here in Indiana and some thoughts about pursuing this type of work.

Perhaps the the first thing to understand is that within the commercial bail industry the term “Bounty Hunter” is discouraged.  The use of “Recovery Agent” is preferred and recognized as the professional designation for those who locate and apprehend fugitives for bail bond companies.

It should not be surprising that recovery agents and their activities are strictly regulated.  The work can at times be dangerous for the agent, the fugitive as well as the public. Almost every state mandates recovery agents to be licensed and the licensing requirements can vary greatly from state to state.  Below are the  licensing requirements per the Indiana Department of Insurance (IDOI):

All applications must include:

  1. A recent digital full face photograph and your signature on the specimen sheet to be included on your license.  If you prefer, pictures can be taken in our office by appointment only.
  2. Certified fingerprint card from local law enforcement, or a receipt from L-1 Identify Solutions showing that you have been fingerprinted.
  3. Recent Credit Bureau Report (Free): http://www.annualcreditreport.com/
  4. Criminal History Check completed by Indiana State Police.
  5. Photo copies of other Professional Licenses that you hold.
  6. Application fee of $650 (check or money order).
  7. Completion Certificate for 12 credit hours of Pre-Licensing Education.
  8. Passing test results.

In addition there is a $100 testing fee.

After meeting all of the requirements and assuming no disqualifying conditions exist, a license will be awarded.  For application forms and further information on recovery agent licensing, here is the link to the IDOI Recovery Agent licensing web page.  The Indiana recovery agent license must be renewed every two years by completing continuing education requirements and paying a $300 renewal fee.

Acquiring the license is just the first step.  Getting work comes next.  Any and all fugitives are not fair game for every recovery agent.  Agreements need to be made with the bonding companies seeking any particular fugitive.  Competition for these agreements can be fierce.  An aspiring agent needs to understand what the bonding companies are looking for in a recovery agent in order to develop working relationships with them.

Recovery is all about locating and apprehending fugitives, not confrontation and intimidation.  Bonding companies want recovery agents who understand concepts like:

  •   The importance of qualities like interpersonal skills and diligence instead of kicking in doors.
  •   High tech skills mean effective online skip tracing and not utilizing the latest in laser gun sights.
  •   Weapons and personal protection gear are intended to provide agent safety and are not a green light for aggressive high risk behavior.

Bottom line is bonding companies want agents who can work with law enforcement instead of being arrested by them.  Avoiding lawsuits is a best practice as well.

There is one final item bonding companies value and it is the most important: experience.  Gaining experience may not as difficult as it sounds.  Recovery work is often a team activity, allowing newly minted agents opportunities to find and work with proven recovery agents out in the field.

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Posted in Bail, Bounty Hunter, Fugitive, Recovery Agent. Tagged with .