1. Ryan Elder
    Offline

    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    1,613
    Likes Received:
    78

    What are the U.S. laws on bounty hunting in this case?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Ryan Elder, Jun 23, 2016.

    I was watching the movie Ransom (1996), and in that movie...

    SPOILER

    Mel Gibson's character's son is kidnapped. He knows that his son will not be returned alive likely, so he puts out a 4 million dollar bounty on the kidnappers (dead or alive as he says it), rather than pay the ransom.

    This gives me an idea for story premise I have, but I was wondering, under what laws can you put a dead or a alive bounty on a criminal, or in this case a criminal suspect, since people are innocent till proven guilty, in the law?

    Like if someone is suspected of kidnapping or murder, can you put the bounty out then? Does a person's life have to be at risk for it be legal? If not, does the criminal already have to proven of something serious like murder, and maybe the police just haven't found him yet? The movie is set in modern times so I am guessing not much has changed since the 90s?
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2016
  2. IlaridaArch
    Offline

    IlaridaArch Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2014
    Messages:
    197
    Likes Received:
    170
    Every single part of me say that it is 100% illegal, but being outside of US, can't promise that. Criminal committing a crime has not been sentenced, so by logic, there's no chance he has been found quilty by justice. And no individual can take justice to his/her own hands.

    If that is not illegal, then one more reason to think US has lot to fix within itself.
     
  3. newjerseyrunner
    Offline

    newjerseyrunner Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2016
    Messages:
    301
    Likes Received:
    230
    Bounty hunters are normal citizens, they have no rights other than that. They can only fire a weapon if they feel threatened, they have to follow all traffic laws, and they can only detain someone as outlined by a citizen's arrest. Usually bounty hunters are used on people who have already been found guilty and skip a court or probation appearance.

    Bounty hunters do exist as part of a shady underbelly, but nothing about it is legal. You can never take a bounty out on someone's murder, that would be conspiracy to commit murder. The US government can issue dead or alive bounties for people already found guilty, or non-american citizens, but it usually prefers shadier means.
     
    Vagrant Tale likes this.
  4. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,098
    Likes Received:
    5,311
    Location:
    California, US
    @newjerseyrunner yes, could be conspiracy, and solicitation as well, which is usually also illegal.

    However, in the U.S. bounty hunters can licensed by some States. They're not per se illegal. But you can never hire someone to go kill someone else.
     
  5. KPMay
    Offline

    KPMay Member

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2016
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    24
    "Bounty hunting" nowadays is just putting people under citizen's arrest, not taken dead or alive. Anything else would just be a hit by way of a hitman, without the 'or alive' part. Which is very illegal :p
     
  6. Ryan Elder
    Offline

    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    1,613
    Likes Received:
    78
    Okay then, thanks for the advice. In the movie Ransom then, how was the character able to put out a dead or alive bounty on a mystery kidnapper, who has not been proven guilty in court or convicted yet... since the movie was set in 90s New York and all?
     
  7. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,098
    Likes Received:
    5,311
    Location:
    California, US
    Mel Gibson's character was able to do it because it's a movie, and in fact that was basically the premise of the movie as I recall. The screenwriters weren't worried about realism or the legality of it. I don't remember if they even addressed the latter in passing.
     
  8. Ryan Elder
    Offline

    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    1,613
    Likes Received:
    78
    Okay then thanks. Well in the movie....

    SPOILER

    One of the kidnappers kills the rest. He is a cop, so he pretends that he stumbled upon the kidnapping while on police duty. So he kills the others and saves Gibson's son. Gibson then writes him a 4 million dollar check and the bank actually takes it, and the bank wants to make a public media spectacle out of it, and take pictures for the papers. So it seemed pretty legal in the movie I guess.

    However, he was a cop, who fooled everyone to thinking he killed the kidnappers in self defense while on police duty.

    If a private citizen killed all the kidnappers, saved the son, and tried to collect, perhaps there would be more legal opposition?

    Or perhaps what Gibson's character did in the movie was illegal, but no one was willing to arrest him for it, and prevent him from paying a reward cause it would mean a little boy would be murdered, and the courts do not want that to happen and it would mean serious public relations damage?
     
  9. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,098
    Likes Received:
    5,311
    Location:
    California, US
    I think for purposes of the movie, they just made it come out how they wanted to. Thrillers and action movies disregard so much about law, procedure, and the like that it's generally rather unrealistic. Story trumps those other concerns. I think there wasn't any legal opposition because the screenwriters didn't want there to be, and that's probably as far as the analysis got.
     
  10. Ryan Elder
    Offline

    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    1,613
    Likes Received:
    78
    Okay thanks. It's good to know how all these laws work when it comes to writing a story. One thing I have learned on here, in realistic court, a lot of judges make decisions that would be negative in public relations and go against public opinion. Like for example, a lot of questions I asked before, I was told that evidence would be inadmissible for several reasons, or the law could not go along with any circumventions, in order to bring killers to justice.

    I was wondering, since judges are appointed by the state governor, if a judge sets a killer free, especially one with high media attention, would the governor be worried about not being elected for another term? Wouldn't governors want to pick judges who would let certain evidence slide, or would they be worried about that? It seems to me that if a lot of by the book judges risk getting the governor not elected again. But is that true?
     
  11. X Equestris
    Offline

    X Equestris Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2015
    Messages:
    519
    Likes Received:
    307
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    This is more along the lines of hiring a hitman. Modern bounty hunting basically consists of tracking down people who got out of jail on bail and then skipped their court date. They won't be killing anyone if they can help it. Killing people is bad for their business.
     
  12. Ryan Elder
    Offline

    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    1,613
    Likes Received:
    78
    Yeah that's true. So in Gibson's case, even though he said dead or alive, I guess in a situation like that, as long as the person didn't murder the suspect but just turned him in with reasonable force, then bounties on kidnapping suspects are legal?
     
  13. X Equestris
    Offline

    X Equestris Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2015
    Messages:
    519
    Likes Received:
    307
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    I'm doubtful about that. Even in their heyday (the Western era), legal bounty hunting involved tracking down and capturing/killing criminals who had bounties posted by the government, not by private citizens. Today you might see private citizens post rewards for info leading to an arrest, but that's not really the same thing.

    Modern American "bounty hunters" are these guys:

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bail_bondsman

    They come into play after someone has been arrested.
     
    Vagrant Tale likes this.

Share This Page