Bail bondsmen and use of force

Bail bondsmen are not peace officers; they are private citizens and have to abide by the law just like any other private citizen. Bail bondsmen are, however, allowed to use force under certain circumstances. Bail bondsmen can force entry into a defendant’s or cosigner’s home because the bail bond contract allows them to do so.  Depending on the state (and sometimes county) that they work in, they are allowed to carry handcuffs, tasers, pepper spray, zip ties, batons, and firearms. Bail bondsmen are allowed to use all force up to and including lethal force. Because they are private citizens and do have to abide by state law, if their state requires private citizens to have a concealed carry permit or license, then bail bondsmen have to have that same credential. Ideally bail bondmen do not want to have to use any use of force at all, however, if a defendant is being non-compliant then the bondsman is allowed to use force as needed to get control of the situation. Typically, a bail bondsman will first try to “talk a defendant down” and use words to subdue a defendant into calming down and surrendering. If the situation escalates to the point where physical restraint is needed the next use of force is putting the defendant in handcuffs or zip ties. If wrist restraints are insufficient to control a combative defendant or cannot be applied, then bail bondsmen may need to use a baton or a taser to restrain a combative person. The last resort is the use of a firearm. Bail bondsmen hope that the threat of a gun is enough to capture and subdue a violent person, however, it may be necessary to fire shots. In certain circumstances, a firearm may be used as a first choice if the defendant has a very violent past or has violent charges pending.

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