OH7: Bounty hunters have no license to enter as police officers do under state statute

While LEOs have the authority to break and enter to arrest a fugitive when they have an arrest warrant, state law grants no such power to bondsman. Conviction for criminal damaging affirmed for kicking in two doors, and the fugitive wasn’t there. State v. Chappell, 2017-Ohio-5712, 2017 Ohio App. LEXIS 2743 (7th Dist. June 21, 2017):

[*P11] In Mota v. Gruszczynski, 197 Ohio App 3d. 750, 2012-Ohio-275, 968, 968 N.E.2d 631 (8th Dist.) the court observed,”no Ohio court has interpreted R.C. 2713.22 as providing carte blanche authority to a bounty hunter in pursuit of a fugitive to enter the dwelling of a third party who is not a party to the bail contract.” Id. at ¶ 15. The statutory language at issue here is straightforward. It merely authorizes bail bondsmen to arrest a fugitive; it does not authorize them to ignore Fourth Amendment protections when doing so. To interpret R.C. 2713.22 as argued by Chappell and Morgan would grant bail bondsmen greater authority to enter the private dwellings of nonconsenting third parties than that vested in law enforcement officers. See Steagald v. United States, 451 U.S. 204, 101 S.Ct. 1642, 68 L.Ed.2d 38 (1981) (absent exigent circumstances or consent, law enforcement officers may not constitutionally search for the subject of an arrest warrant in the home of a third party without first obtaining a search warrant).

[*P12] Here, Chappell and Morgan did not have consent of the home owner or the occupant, and they do not argue that they did. Further, the bond agreement did not provide them with consent. Had Chappell and Morgan been police officers, they would have been required to get a warrant and execute it in conformity with statutory and constitutional constraints. The plain language of R.C. 2713.22 does not give bail bondsmen the unfettered authority to enter the residence of a third party in order to arrest a fugitive.

Compare from two days ago: ND: Entry by bail bond bounty hunters with police at perimeter declining to help was a private search. If the fugitive or contraband was inside, however, the police would have been more than happy to take credit for the seizure.

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