Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones Applauds Passage of AB 2029 by Senate Public Safety Committee
News: 2012 Press Release
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones today announced that the Senate Public Safety Committee has passed AB 2029, authored by Assembly Public Safety Chairman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), by a vote of 5 to 1. The bill re-establishes the "Bail Fugitive Recovery Persons Act" (Act), which requires that all bail fugitive recovery persons meet specified education, notice, and conduct requirements. The act expired on January 1, 2010.
"I am very pleased that the Senate Public Safety Committee has passed this important legislation regarding the re-establishment of important requirements for the bounty hunter profession," Commissioner Jones said. "This legislation will give my Department oversight of this profession in an effort to create much-needed safety and due process mechanisms for law enforcement and consumers and their families."
Bail fugitive recovery persons, commonly known as bounty hunters, earn their living by tracking down bail fugitives. If an accused person out on bail fails to appear at his or her court date, the bail agent who posted the bond for the accused may contract with a bounty hunter to retrieve the person. However, since the sunset of the Act, California Department of Insurance (CDI) Investigation Division has experienced a significant amount of cases in which some bounty hunters have overstepped appropriate, if not legal, boundaries in their apprehension of bail fugitives. CDI has responded to complaints ranging from some bounty hunters forcibly entering homes wearing uniforms and badges that could easily mistake them as law enforcement, to some bounty hunters using extortion and kidnapping-like tactics to procure bail bond payments. When bounty hunters exceed the scope of their intended authority, there is an increased likelihood that innocent Californians and their families will be unnecessarily injured and unjustly detained against their will.
Specifically, the Act would provide:
- Specified age, background, training and education and documentation requirements for persons acting as a bail fugitive recovery person;
- That a bail fugitive recovery person may apprehend, detain, or arrest a bail fugitive only if working under the expressed written authorization of a licensed bail agent;
- That no bail fugitive recovery person shall wear a uniform or carry a badge that could imply that person works for a governmental agency or public safety task force; and,
- That the bail fugitive recovery person is to provide a local police or sheriff's department with at least a six-hour advance notice of his or her intent to apprehend a bail fugitive, except for in exigent situations, among other provisions.
The bill will now head to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.
The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California. Insurers collect $310 billion in premiums annually in California. Since 2011 the California Department of Insurance received more than 1,000,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $469 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance website at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.4357. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.